Jomo Kenyatta, maker of modern Kenya, and its President for the past 14 years, died early today (22 August) in his sleep at his residence in Mombasa.
Jomo Kenyatta, maker of modern Kenya, and its President for the past 14 years, died early today (22 August) in his sleep at his residence in Mombasa. His exact age has never been known, but he was in his late 80s. Kenyatta was not only independent Kenya's first Prime Minister and first President. He was the man who had led the Kenyan people in their struggle for freedom from British colonial rule.
SYNOPSIS: Kenyatta spent nine years in prison, or under restriction, before he was released in 1961. He had been charged by the British with leading Mau Mau, the violent secret society active in Kenya's colonial days. But he insisted that he and his political movement had nothing to do with it.
On December 12th, 1963, Prince Philip, representing Queen Elizabeth, handed over the formal instruments of Kenya's independence to Jomo Kenyatta as Prime Minister. Half a life-time of effort had been rewarded. He described it as "the happiest day of my life".
Kenya went on to become a republic-- with Kenyatta becoming President. He received congratulations from his ministers on his first re-election, unopposed. He has held the office ever since.
But his presidency has not been entirely smooth. The murder of a popular Cabinet minister, Tom Mboya, in 1969 brought public feeling to the boil among Mr. Mboya's Luo fellow-tribesmen. There were riots in Nairobi on the day of the funeral, through which President Kenyatta had to pass on his way to the service.
When President Obote was ousted by General Amin, President Kenyatta did his best to mend the rift this caused between Tanzania and Uganda.
The President in genial mood -- welcoming home the Kenyan team from the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970. He always encouraged and identified himself with successes of Kenyans abroad, particularly the young people.
The tenth anniversary of Kenya's independence: President Kenyatta, magnificent in leopard-skin cloak, celebrated with his people in style. There was a full-scale march-past of the armed forces, and the president spoke with pride about Kenya's stability and economic achievements, and its respect for the rule of law.
In 1975, when Angola was moving towards independence, President Kenyatta made tow attempts to bring the warring leaders together. Twice, he got them to the point of agreement in Nairobi -- only for it to break down when they returned home.
He had no bitterness left towards the British. Last year, he welcomed the Prince of Wales, heir to the throne.
The last pictures of President Kenyatta -- two months ago, at Nakuru agricultural show. He spoke on a theme near his heart: "In the land", he said, "lies our salvation and survival". His last public engagement was only yesterday, when he gave a lunch to Kenya's ambassadors.
His people called the President "Mzee" -- a Swahili word meaning "the old man". It expressed all the respect and affection they had for the founder and father of his country.