Meaning Behind Njonjo's Uncanny Gift To Uhuru During Presidential Campaigns

  • Former Attorney-General Charles Njonjo (Left) and President Uhuru Kenyatta. File
  • In the run-up to 2002 elections, President Daniel Moi fronted a young Uhuru Kenyatta as the candidate set to take the reins of the country as he sought to relinquish his long stay at the helm.

    His decision to front the 'relatively inexperienced' Kenyatta caused a split among Kanu members, led by Raila Odinga and other errant political stalwarts who saw that their political ambitions were set to die a natural death under the new regime.

    Kenyatta's close aide Duncan Ndegwa, in his memoir Walking in Kenyatta's Struggle, narrated that on the day that the embattled Uhuru was commemorating the 24th anniversary of his father's demise, Kenyatta's trusted aide Charles Njonjo came to him with an unlikely gift.

    Former attorney general Charles Njonjo during an interview with Daily Nation at his Westlands office on May 15, 2015
    Former attorney general Charles Njonjo during an interview with Daily Nation at his Westlands office on May 15, 2015

    "Njonjo accosted Uhuru after the memorial service, took Jomo Kenyatta's cap out of the paper bag and handed it to him in a gesture that was highly calculated to be symbolic," Ndegwa wrote.

    The reason for the cap has been alleged to have been a call that it was time to build bridges between him and the rebel Raila Odinga to rekindle the relationship that their fathers had and lost.

    Ndegwa stated that there was a general surprise amongst some individuals present at the commemoration who were old enough to recognize the cap since it had not been seen in public for 36 straight years since Kenyatta had taken it off.

    He explained that there had been an acrimonious fallout between President Jomo Kenyatta and Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in 1966, where Oginga Odinga resigned from his vice president's post after accusing Kenyatta of betrayal.

    Ndegwa wrote that there had been a bitter exchange between the two, with Odinga accusing Kenyatta of replacing him with his new favorite Tom Mboya.

    "His eyes were red and bulging with rage, and when he spoke, it was a hysterical weeping saying 'you have done it! You have made Tom Mboya the man behind the throne! Why have you done it?" Ndegwa quoted Odinga in his book.

    Kenyatta and Jaramogi wearing similar hats in an undated photo. After their bitter fallout in 1966, Kenyatta never wore the cap and it disappeared for 36 years.
    Kenyatta and Jaramogi wearing similar hats in an undated photo. After their bitter fallout in 1966, Kenyatta never wore the cap and it disappeared for 36 years.

    He stated that immediately after the exchange, Kenyatta, in apparent anger, took off the Luo cap similar to Oginga's, never to wear it again.

    It was only seen in public 24 years after his demise.