Many available Jomo Kenyatta biography articles and book chapters as well as books omit some fascinating and yet embarrassing aspects concerning Kenya’s founding father.
This is hardly surprising because in creating the powerful office of the presidency in Kenya (to replace that of Prime Minister), Kenyatta’s handlers literally altered and re-wrote history to best suite their political purposes. After the Kenyatta spin doctors were done younger Kenyans grew up believing that the old man was the radical leader of the Mau mau who violently fought for independence. The Kenyan version of Nelson Mandela so to speak. Kenya’s first president himself used every opportunity in speeches and off the cuff remarks everywhere to remind Kenyans that independence was fought for using violent means and saying that he himself was at the forefront of that violent struggle for Kenya’s independence from colonialism. Nothing could be further from the truth because Jomo Kenyatta was a moderate who some even considered to be an outright coward.
His moderate reconciliatory stance caused him to run into trouble with the Mau mau several times and they even threatened to assassinate him for denouncing their violent ways and for his approach which was too reconciliatory.
It is fascinating that instead of this stance endearing him to the colonialists, Jomo Kenyatta made some very powerful enemies in the then colonial government and this culminated in his being charged on tramped up charges of belonging to the Mau mau terror group. One of the reasons for this was his love for all things traditional and his open love for Kikuyu tradition which many whites abhorred and found distasteful especially customs like the circumcision of young girls.
The truth is that Kenyatta became the president of Kenya by sheer chance. A political accident that caused the chips to fall dramatically in his favour caused him to be president. Indeed he was a compromise candidate who had the presidency handed over to him on a silver platter because two political rivals Tom Mboya and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga hated each other’s guts so much that neither would stand seeing the other ascending to the highest office in the land. The older Oginga in frustration at being on the losing end of that battle, suddenly started demanding for the release of Kenyatta before independence simply because he knew Mboya’s political stronghold in Nairobi was amongst the Gikuyu tribe the same tribe Kenyatta belonged to.
Kenyatta himself must have been bewildered and amazed at how quickly his political star rose bringing him out of detention and oblivion to become Kenya’s founding father and president.