Charles Njonjo served the Kenyan people as attorney general from 1963 to 1980 and was a trusted political adviser to President Moi in the 1980s.
Today, he reaches the milestone age of 100 years old. To mark this landmark achievement, we are going to honour the ‘Duke of Kabeteshire’ with an article about his life.
He is known as the ‘Duke of Kabeteshire’ because of his English mannerisms.
Those of you who have watched Njonjo’s recent message to the Kenyan people will have instantly noticed the immaculate three-piece, pin-striped suit with the thick tie and rose pin. An iconic look from an iconic man. If you haven’t seen it, follow this link.
Njonjo studied at Gray’s Inn in London after he completed his education in Kenya and South Africa. He adopted the British way of life whilst studying at the prestigious society of barristers.
In an interview with Jeff Koinange in 2012, Njonjo advised Koinange to go to Savile Row in London to attain the quintessential gentlemanly look. There is a rumour that the Queen even referred to him as Sir Charles Njonjo.
Charles Njonjo convinced Jomo Kenyatta to appoint Moi as Vice-President.
Joseph Murumbi resigned as Vice-President in 1966 due to disagreements with Kenyatta over the direction of the government. During a limousine ride from the Rift Valley, Kenyatta wondered aloud who he should appoint as the next VP.
Njonjo was the man to recommend Daniel Arap Moi for the role. Moi went on to become Kenya’s second president and this casual conversation is a pivotal moment in Kenya’s history.
Njonjo is the only surviving member of Kenya’s first cabinet.
There are not many people who reach the age of 100 and this is definitely the case when it comes to Njonjo’s old colleagues. None of the other figures who served in Kenya’s first cabinet are around today.
This includes big names such as Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, James Gichuru and Joseph Murumbi.
Charles Njonjo did not get married until he was 52.
It wasn’t until 1972 when Njonjo decided it was time to get married. The reasons he gave for not marrying sooner are understandable and show his dedication to the Kenyan government. Njonjo loved his job as Attorney-General and he often worked long hours which would have been unfair on a spouse.
Eventually, he married a British lady called Margaret Bryson, who he met at the All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi.
Charles Njonjo’s father, Josiah Njonjo, was one of the foremost mediators between Kenyans and the British in pre-Independence Kenya.
Josiah Njonjo was a colonial paramount chief and was friends with many prominent British families.
As a young boy, Charles Njonjo rode to his primary school in Lower Kabete on horseback accompanied by his servant. It wasn’t until he attended the prestigious Alliance High School in Kikuyu that Njonjo tasted ugali for the first time.
Happy 100th Birthday to this great, great man!
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