10 Facts on Jomo Kenyatta

10 Facts on Jomo Kenyatta

(1890- 22nd August 1978)

  • He was born in Ngenda, East Africa in what is predicted to be 1890. His parents were farmers and his father was wealthy enough to have several wives. He was raised according to the traditional Kikuyu customs and beliefs. His father died when he was young and according to the laws of their tradition, his mother married his uncle (father’s younger brother).
  • His uncle treated him and his brother unfairly and he later moved in with his grandfather who was a medicine man. In 1909 he enrolled as a pupil at the Church of Scotland mission. He was in a boarding school where he learnt to read and write and was taught stories from the Bible. He began undergoing Catechism in 1912. His brother joined him in the boarding school even though many of their peers resented the way the missionaries treated them.
  • When he was baptised he chose the name John stone that is a combination of John and Peter (meaning stone) in the Bible. This is because he had to be given an English name. He was a skilled carpenter but he was not allowed by the missionaries to undergo his training as a stonemason.
  • In 1920 he got married to a woman called Grace under his native customs but the Church elders ordered him to get married before a European magistrate. On the 20th of November his first son, Peter was born and he later married his wife under the church rights in 1922.

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  • He became interested in politics and joined the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA) in 1924 and in 1928 became the general secretary. In 1929 he was sent to London as a lobbyist and he published letters and articles to the Manchester Guardian and the times. From 1932- 1933 he studied economics in Moscow.
  • He left Russia when they withdrew their support for the anti-colonialist movement against Britain and France in Africa. In 1935 he enrolled in UCL to learn social anthropology. In England, he joined Pan- Africanist organisations and published articles.

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  • He returned to Kenya after 15 years, in 1947 was elected president of the Kenyan African Union. His third wife died in childbirth in 1950 and he married another wife who will later be his first lady. He was imprisoned in 1953 for 7 years after evidence tied him to the Mau Mau rebellion. Petitions were signed for his release.
  • From 1961-1963 he led the KANU to negotiate the Kenyan independence from British Colonial rule. On the 1st of June 1963, he became the prime minister of independent Kenya. The role of prime minister was later changed to president. In 1968 he published his autobiography, suffering without bitterness.
  • He remained president until his death in 1978 at 86 years of age. His health had been degenerating since his heart attack in 1966. He is credited for leading Kenya to her independence. He is often criticised for ruling mostly through his tribe, the Kikuyu’s. These people as a result formed a group of aristocrats in Kenya. He is also criticised for grabbing large portions of land.
  • Kenyatta had 8 children and was married 4 times. His son Uhuru Kenyatta was elected as the 4th president of Kenya in 2013.
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