Meet Cobbler Who Had Access to State House

  • Jomo Kenyatta donning sandals Facebook fa
  • Kamau Wa Gathara who was born in 1920 in Tetu, Nyeri. His personal relationship with Kenya’s founding father goes back to the early 1950s.

    Kamau would board a lorry to Maralal from Nakuru for Ksh12. While in Maralal, Kamau visited fellow cobbler, Wanyiri Kimomori who also owned a popular shoe shop. Kenyatta frequented Kimomori’s shop and it was there that Kamau and Kenyatta first met.

    “He (Kenyatta) preferred black size 10 leather sandals. I had the shoes delivered to Kimomori’s shop when I was not travelling to Maralal,” the retired cobbler narrated to the Kenya Yearbook in 2017.

    Kamau Wa Gathara in 2018
    Kamau Wa Gathara in 2018

    Kamau relayed messages from Kenyatta in Maralal to other political figures in Nakuru. This was after Jomo Kenyatta and other detainees had been released from Kapenguria.

    “I remember how Kenyatta would pass through Nakuru on his way to Molo and other parts of Rift Valley for political rallies. Every time he was in town he would stay at Ngamini Hotel, which I also frequented,” Kamau recalled in an interview with the Kenya Yearbook.

    Kamau recounts that it was in this Hotel in Nakuru that Kenyatta and his close confidants like Njenga Karume discussed Kenyan’s political future.

    “During these sessions, we at times took tea as beer drinking was strictly regulated; we did not want drunkards to carelessly give away the secrets of these serious deliberations. We discussed matters of utmost secrecy," Kamau is quoted in the government publication.

    The president was so pleased with his work that Kamau attended to all his shoe emergencies. This gave him access to the president’s residence in State House and home in Ichaweri.

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    “The PC, the DC and members of the Presidential Escort brought the size 10 sandal to my shop. It had been made in England and the PC had strict instructions that nobody else was to touch it except me,” Kamau recounted.

    After independence Kamau took over the Nakuru outlest African Boot, a leading leather shoe retailer at the time. He has since retired and lives in Ahiti, Nyahururu.