President Jomo Kenyatta -- the 83-year-old Kenyan leader -- while considered a moderating force in African politics, has been campaigning for African rights and unity for most of his life.
President Jomo Kenyatta -- the 83-year-old Kenyan leader -- while considered a moderating force in African politics, has been campaigning for African rights and unity for most of his life. Most recently President Kenyatta met with Secretary General Enzo Ekangaki of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), and with other African leaders to discuss the conflict between Tanzania and Uganda -- two countries that border Kenya.
Kenyatta was born at Ichaweri, in the Kikuyu Reserve in 1889. He was active in Kikuyu politics from 1920 and rose to power in the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA), Kenya's first nationalist movement. By 1928 he was the Association's General Secretary and editor of its newspaper, in which he formulated the African case against the European occupation of the Kenyan Highlands.
Beginning in 1931, Kenyatta spent fifteen years in Britain studying and furthering his campaign for African rights.
He returned to Kenya in 1946 and soon after became President of the new African political movement, the Kenya African Union (KAU). The movement, and Kenyatta's influence, expanded rapidly until 1948, when white settlers began pressing for his deportation.
In 1950 after outbreaks of violence attributed to the Mau Mau - the secret society was branded illegal. Kenyatta always denied Mau Mau was working through the K.A.U. After further trouble, a state of emergency was declared in 1952, Kenyatta was arrested and a month later was charged with managing Mau Mau. After his arrest, more violence swept across the country between Mau Mau guerrilla bands and security forces.
Kenyatta was convicted by the British Colonial Government in April or 1953, and was sentenced to seven years in prison with restriction of movement after his release. He was released in 1959 but indefinitely restricted to Lodwar, in the remote Northern Province.
In August of 1961 he again was permitted to return to Nairobi, where he took up the Presidency of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), new party to which he had been elected president 'in absentia' during his detention. At that time the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) was in office. In March of 1962 Kenyatta became Minister of State when a coalition was formed between KANU and KADU.
KANU won an overall majority in the 1963 elections and Kenyatta became Prime Minister. When Kenya became a Republic within the Commonwealth, in 1964, Kenyatta was the unanimous choice for President.
Since that time, President Kenyatta has continued to press for complete African unity. He has called upon all the different ethnic and religious groups within his country to "identify themselves with the aspirations of the African people."
The only incident which has marred that unity, was the assassination of Tom Mboya, in 1969. Mboya was an opposition leader and minister in Kenyatte's Government. He was also a Luo Tribesman, and his assassination brought some violent reactions from members of the Luo tribe.
In 1971, United States Vice-President Spiro Agnew, on a visit to Kenya, praised the harmony in Kenya's multi-racial society. And, earlier this year, the man who had spent seven years in jail under British rule, was made a Knight of the Order of St. John -- an honour given by direction of Queen Elizabeth.