Kenya’s first Attorney General Charles Njonjo, popularly known as the ‘The Duke of Kabeteshire’ celebrates his 100th birthday today in Nairobi. The former government lawyer who hails from Kabete, Kiambu County, is the only surviving member of Kenya’s first cabinet that was formed by founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
Njonjo’s name goes down in the annals of Kenya’s history as a powerful force within the power corridors during the sunrise years of Kenya’s independence. He is particularly famous for his conspicuous British mannerisms, deep reverence for the English culture and flawless eloquence in the Queen’s language. He is also widely known for his striped suits that are purchased exclusively in London, worn together with a signature red rosebud in the lapel.
In the early years of Kenya’s self-rule, Njonjo wielded so much power and influence that he had unfettered access to President Jomo Kenyatta and even rode in the Presidential limousine occasionally. Born to a Senior chief Josiah Njonjo in 1920, Njonjo’s life has been marked by affluence.
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Njonjo was a key player in the succession politics preceding Kenyatta’s death and was highly instrumental in the ascension of Daniel Moi to the top sit after a section of Mt. Kenya power brokers close to Kenyatta attempted to block Moi from succeeding his boss. He, however, broke ranks with Moi in 1983 when Moi accused him, among others, of scheming the infamous 1982 coup.
Njonjo is a self-declared workaholic saying he got married late, at age 52, due to his untilted focus and concentration on work. His ungraceful exit from the power stage was authored by former President Daniel Moi who viewed him as a threat to his rule.