Assassination That Triggered Ministers to Take Oath Naked at Kenyatta's Home

  • Kenya's first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. Citizen Digital
  • When former Economic Planning and Development Minister Tom Mboya was assassinated outside a chemist in Nairobi (1969), President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's close friends made the Cabinet take a loyalty oath naked at his Gatundu homestead. 

    As written in the late Njenga Karume's memoir; Beyond Expectations: From Charcoal to Gold, Mbiyu Koinange, and Arthur Wanyoike (Kenyatta's trusted bodyguard) suggested that government officials and Mzee's close friends commit themselves to President Kenyatta. 

    Karume who also served in the government narrated how he as well as Kenyatta's ministers, were duped into going to Gatundu for a meeting with the president.

    Former Defence Minister Njenga Karume in the company of military bosses

    "Once inside, I realised that something was terribly wrong. First Kenyatta was nowhere to be seen," recounted Karume. 

    Inside the pitch black room, Njenga could see an old friend, Kaniu Kinyanjui and others holding machetes.

    "Muthoniwa ruta nguo (Remove your clothes, my in-law)," he was directed by Kinyanjui.

    "I immediately realised that this was an oathing session. I was furious that I had been tricked into the situation in such a manner, right in Kenyatta's home," Njenga stated.

    As the other ministers and government officials before him had done, he stripped, chewed the mucky stuff he was handed and pledged his loyalty to the president. 

    By way of demonstrations and protests in the city, the Opposition had accused Kenyatta of being behind Mboya's murder and the oath was supposed to solidify Kenyatta's defence in case of an onslaught against him. 

    Njenga, however, believed that the oath was unnecessary because Kenyatta was equally shocked by Mboya's killing so he couldn't have arranged it. 

    He argued that the Economics minister was more useful to Kenyatta alive and the president had groomed Mboya himself. 

    Despite Njenga's disgust with the manner in which the oathing was conducted, he never brought it to the attention of Kenyatta.

    Mboya's assassination is a mystery that still remains unsolved since even after the killer was hanged, it was not revealed who ordered the hit.

    Mboya's murderer convict, Nahashon Isaac Njenga Njoroge went to his death without ever explaining what he had meant by asking the court, "Why don’t you go after the big man?”

    The late Njenga Karume hosts Royal Media Chairman S.K Macharia