List of Kenya’s First Cabinet Ministers
Kenya’s first cabinet was a star-studded team that included highly educated Kenyans. Save for three, all members of Kenya’s first cabinet went through coveted national schools.
Nine out of fifteen members attended Alliance High School, with others being alumni of Mang’u High and Maseno School.
This pointed to founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s admiration for competence and expertise. Here are the first members of Kenya’s first-ever cabinet;
1. Jomo Kenyatta
- Jomo Kenyatta constituted and led the cabinet from 1963 as the Prime Minister of Kenya.
- Kenya attained internal rule on June 1st, 1963 which meant Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was presiding over the internal affairs of the country.
- The external affairs of the country were under Governor General Malcolm McDonald who held the position until 1964.
- Kenya’s ministers were Mzee Kenyatta’s associates who worked with him in Kenya’s independent process.
2. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
- Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was a member of Kenya’s first cabinet as the minister for home affairs.
- Jaramogi was a political supremo from Kenya’s Nyanza province and a close collaborator of Kenyatta.
- Prior to his entry to the cabinet, Jaramogi had been at the center of a struggle to get Kenyatta out of colonial prison.
- Kenyatta and his friends in the independence struggle had been imprisoned by Governor Sir. Evylin Baring.
- Jaramogi, whose son is Raila Amolo Odinga, later fell out with Jomo Kenyatta in a bitter, messy, and grueling fashion.
- Jaramogi’s legacy and brand of politics have been effectively carried on by his son Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, who is also a former Kenyan Prime Minister.
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3. James Gichuru
- James Gichuru was named to Kenya’s first cabinet as finance minister.
- A graduate of Makerere University and Alliance High alumni, James Gichuru was tasked with formulating Kenya’s first fiscal plans.
- James Gichuru was a key leader of Kenya’s independence party Kenya National African Union (KANU).
- He had acted as chairman in Jomo Kenyatta’s absence as the latter battled his way out of prison.
- Before coming to the cabinet, James Gichuru was teaching at Alliance High School, having been employed as one of the first African teachers there.
4. Joseph Murumbi
- Joseph Murumbi was a Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office.
- Mr. Murumbi is one of the three cabinet members who did not attend Kenya’s national school, but he was equally well educated.
- Having been educated in India, Murumbi proceeded to become Kenya’s vice president.
- Other than the Joseph Murumbi Memorial Park in Nairobi, Murumbi’s legacy is in ruins.
- His mega mansion in Transmara is destitute while his Muthaiga house was long vandalized.
- Some of his art collection has been preserved at the memorial park along Nairobi’s Kenyatta avenue.
- The most famous occupier of the Minister of State docket was Kenyatta’s kinsman Mbiyu Koinange who became the most powerful man after the head of state.
- A son of Senior Chief Koinange wa Mbiyu, Mr. Koinange was the first Kenyan African to obtain a master’s degree.
- As Minister of State in the President’s office, Mbiyu was so powerful that he was nicknamed ‘Kissinger’ after the American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
5. Julius Kiano
- Julius Kiano was Kenya’s first Minister for Commerce and Industry.
- The ministry has been in existence since then whilst tweaking the names.
- The current holder under the new constitution is Moses Kuria who is the Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade & Industry.
- Also an alumnus of Alliance High School, Dr. Kiano was the first Kenyan to attain a doctorate degree.
6. Kyale Mwendwa
- Kyale Mwendwa was Kenya’s first minister of labor, appointed by Jomo Kenyatta in the 1963 cabinet.
- Mwendwa got to cabinet after stints at the Alliance High School and Kagumo Teachers’ Training College.
- As minister for labor, he is credited for his efforts in founding the National Social Security Fund, as well as the National Youth Service.
7. Bruce Mackenzie
- Bruce Mackenzie was a unique member of Kenya’s first cabinet because he was white.
- Bruce Mackenzie was born and educated in South Africa before coming to Kenya.
- He was named Minister of Agriculture in 1963.
- Though he led the agriculture docket, Mackenzie played an important role in Kenya’s foreign policy.
- He engaged the British and Israeli governments as they fought for economic projects in young Kenya.
- Bruce was at some points accused of being a spy for multiple western intelligence services.
8. Lawrence Sagini
- Lawrence Sagini was the Minister of Education in Kenya’s first cabinet.
- Sagini came from the Kisii region of Kenya, which is coincidentally where the current Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu comes from.
- The immediate former Kisii county Sam Ongeri is also a former Minister of Education.
- Another leader from the region, Dr. Fred Matiang’i also served as Education cabinet secretary under President Uhuru Kenyatta.
9. Dawson Mwanyumba
- Dawson Mwanyumba was named Kenya’s first Minister for Public Works, Communications, and Power.
- The ministry has grown to be a lucrative one in government due to Kenya’s huge infrastructure deficit.
- Road contracts, dams, and other infrastructure projects remain in high demand in Kenya up to date.
- Dawson Mwanyumba apparently got the cabinet job without having his prior employment records checked.
- A story is told of how he ‘disciplined” a district officer in Taita Taveta for frustrating his education scholarship.
- Dawson Mwanyumba quit his job as a teacher after the incident which left him dejected.
10. Tom Mboya
- Tom Mboya is one of the most celebrated politicians in Kenya.
- He was a close associate of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who named him Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs in June 1963.
- Up until his assassination in 1969 Mboya had helped in a big way in developing Kenya’s foundation.
- He had, for instance, taking a number of Kenyans to study in the US and other countries abroad under the Airlift program.
- Beneficiaries of the program included Professor Wangari Maathai and Barack Obama Senior, the father to the 44th President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama.
11. Jackson Harvester Angaine
- Jackson Harvester Angaine was Kenya’s first Minister of Lands.
- Popularly known as the “King of Meru” Angaine was at the center of the resettlement of Kenyans who were displaced by colonialists.
- He went on to serve as lands minister throughout the reign of Mzee Kenyatta.
- Mr. Angaine did not survive controversy as he was accused of illegally acquiring a slice of Mt. Kenya forest under the pretext of settling Kenyans.
12. Joseph Daniel Otiende
- J.D. Otiende was among the first 15 ministers of Kenya.
- His policy and sessional papers are credited for bringing improvements in the following sectors in Kenya:
- Otiende died in March 2017 at the Avenue Hospital in Kisumu. He was 99 years old.
13. Samuel Ayodo
- At only 33 years old, Samuel Ayodo was the youngest minister in Kenya’s first cabinet.
- Samuel Ayodo was the Minister for Local Government in the 1963 cabinet.
14. Njoroge Mungai
- Njoroge Mungai was Kenya’s first Minster of Foreign Affairs.
- Mungai was Kenya’s first American-trained physician.
- Like former Attorney General Charles Njonjo, Njoroge Mungai was also a long-time bachelor.
15.Peter Mbiyu Koinange
- Peter Mbiyu Koinange was in Kenya’s first cabinet as Minister of State for Pan-African Affairs.
- He however served for the most part of the Kenyatta I government as Minister of State in the Office of the President from 1966.