Minister Who Opened Fire to Save President Kenyatta

  • On October 25, 1969, in Kisumu, the late Defence Minister Njoroge Mungai was forced to use his firearm to rescue Kenya's founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta from an unruly crowd.

    In an article by The Standard in October 2014, Kenyatta arrived in the lakeside city of Kisumu to open a Russian-built hospital, only to be faced by angry residents who read the government’s involvement in the death of Tom Mboya which had happened four months prior.

    When Kenyatta rose to speak, a bitter altercation ensued between him and his Vice President Jaramogi Oginga, leading to the chanting of pro-Oginga calls from the crowd while others called out Mboya’s name.

    Dr Njoroge Mungai at his home in Kikuyu, Kiambu, in 2008

    Mungai, who was also Kenyatta’s personal physician, to fire into the crowd after assessing that the scuffle put the president’s life in jeopardy.

    The chaos that ensued, later referred to as the ‘Kisumu Massacre’,left 11 people dead and scores injured.

    After the incident, Kenyatta never visited Kisumu again until his death on August 22, 1978.

    Odinga and his lieutenants were taken to exile, commonly known as political Siberia, where they were subjected to punitive measures for an attempt to attack Mzee Kenyatta.

    Daily Nation indicated that Mungai began his service to Kenyatta soon after the State of Emergency was declared in 1952.

    When Kenyatta was arrested he served as his personal doctor, a role he took until the president's death. 

    President Uhuru Kenyatta and other pallbearers during the burial of Dr.Njoroge Mungai in Kiambu on August 2014

    Dr.Mungai is also remembered for being part of the Kenyan team that negotiated independence from Britain at the Lancaster House Conferences in the 1960s.

    In the same year, Mungai became the founding national secretary of the Kenya African National Union (KANU) and was later appointed as the first Minister for Health in 1963.

    Due to his closeness to the president, he would later be appointed as Minister for Defence until 1969, when he was appointed as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

    Mungai died on August 16, 2014, at the age of 88 years.