JOMO KENYATTA

Jomo Kenyatta was born in 1893 at Nsenda near Nairobi. He was a Kikuyu by tribe.

His first name was Kamau, but between 1909 and 1914 he attended a Presbyterian Mission school where he was baptised Johnstone Kamau Wa' Ngenyi.

Between 1922 and 1928 Kenyatta worked for the Nairobi Municipality as a water inspector of water supply.

During this period, he was an active member of a Kikuyu political organisation. He became the voice of the workers demanding better wages and housing facilities. Its here that he changed his name to Kenyatta (Kenya's light) due to political awakening.

In 1928, he was elected Secretary General of the Kikuyu Central Association. The main aim of this organisation was to recover lands lost to the White settlers.

During the same period, he became the Editor of the Kikuyu Language Journal - “Muigi Thania" (unity).

In 1929, he went to London as a representative of the Kikuyu Central Association and pleaded the

African loss of land to the Colonial Secretary. He stayed there for one year and returned in 1930.

In 1931, he again left for England to widen his education and political experience. He studied

Anthropology at the London School of Economics.

In 1939, while in London he wrote a book titled "Facing Mount Kenya". One of the first reliable books on African anthropology.

In 1945, while still in London, he organized the 1945 Manchester Pan African Congress with Kwame

Nkrumah, George Pad more and others.

The following year (1946) he returned to Kenya and was given an arousing welcome by his own people

- the Kikuyu.

In July 1946, he replaced James Gichuru as the leader of the Kenya African Union (KAU), a newly formed political movement that demanded for more African representation on the Legco and more recognition from the government.

He became an active member of a clandestine (underground or guerrilla) movement called Mau - Mau. With General China, Dedan Kimathi and Tom Mboya, they provided leadership for this movement.

During the same time, Kenyatta became the Principal of Githunguri Teacher Training College. His stay at the college was however short-lived. He was sacked by the-colonial government that was now worried by his growing popularity.

Many KAU members were not happy with Kenyatta's leaning towards the extremist Mau - Mau group.

They thus demanded a split in the party (between the moderates and extremists) and by 1951 the split

was inevitable.

Kenyatta stayed with the moderates. Because of the high respect he had earned himself, the Mau - Mau fighters too, stayed in contact with him.

The same year (1951), he presented a memorandum to the Colonial Secretary Griffith, containing

African demand for self - rule,

In 1953, he was arrested on suspicion that he was the real power behind the Mau - Mau guerrilla activities.

He was arrested with other leaders and sentenced to seven years in prison.

By 1959, most of the leaders of the movement had been arrested. Gen. China for example was captured in January 1954. Kimathi who had continued with the guerrilla activities was arrested in October 1956.

Despite the fact that the threats of the movement were over by 1960, people continued with the demand for the release of Kenyatta.

In 1960, a new political party called Kenya African National Union (KANU) was formed by African

leaders in the Legco.

Kenyatta was elected President of this new party while still in prison but assumed its leadership in

August 1961 after his release.

However, some people accused KANU of being too town - centred, radical and a tribal grouping of only the Kikuyu and Luo. These later formed their own party called Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU).

As independence drew near, Kenyatta tried to reconcile KADU and KANU but his attempts failed.

In January 1962, Kenyatta was elected to the Legco and during the general elections his KANU party won the elections with an overwhelming majority. However, its interim Chairman, James Gichuru refused to form a government unless Kenyatta was released.

In February 1962, Kenyatta attended the Second Lancaster House Conference that was called to draw

up a constitution for Kenya.

In the May 1963 elections, he steered his KANU party to a resounding victory. The party got eighty- three seats and their rivals the KADU got fourty-one.

On 1st June 1963, When Kenya attained self - rule, Kenyatta became the Prime minister. He chose his

ministers from all the races and always stressed African unity.

On 12th December 1963, Kenya achieved total independence at Uhuru stadium, Prince Philip "handed" the reigns of power to Jomo Kenyatta. He therefore, became the first President of Kenya.

In 1978, Kenyatta who was highly revered as the father of the nation and was popularly known as

"Mzee" a Swahili word for grand old man died.

Power was then passed on to his Vice President Daniel arap Moi who ruled until recently when he lost in the general elections to Mwai Kibaki of the National Rainbow Coalition.