How Kenyatta Embarrassed Ex-Airforce Boss' Wife at State House

  • A Kenya Airforce plane in mid-flight.
    A Kenya Airforce plane in mid-flight.
  • Maj Gen (Rtd) Dedan Gichuru's story is one fresh out of a fairy tale, having been plucked from Kangemi where he was born and raised and flown to Israel and trained to be among the first five pilots in the country.

    According to an interview with the Majeshi Yetu, an annual Kenya Defence Forces issue magazine, Gichuru and Jomo Kenyatta were close friends, having been appointed the head of the Kenya Airforce (KAF).

    Mzee Kenyatta at one point invited Gichuru and his wife to State House, Nakuru, for a meal after witnessing an army pass out parade.

    "One time after a pass out event at Nakuru, we were hosted by the president to a  luncheon.  My wife had accompanied me on this day and Mzee was very pleased to meet her. He was really amazed and pleased to find out she was from Gatundu," Major Gichuru recalled.

    Former President Jomo Kenyatta. In the late 1930's he once worked at a night club in Manchester.
    Former President Jomo Kenyatta. In the late 1930's he once worked at a night club in Manchester.
    Daily Nation

    Gichuru recounted that the welcoming Kenyatta sat with them on the same table and began carving meat from the bone and serving it to Gichuru's wife.

    With time, however, she could not take any more of the meat and resorted to throwing the pieces in her handbag whenever she thought Mzee was not looking.

    According to Gichuru, she did it to the extent that the bag was almost full and still couldn't tell Mzee Kenyatta that she had had enough until he finally asked.

    "Mzee asked her whether she had finished, and before she could answer, he turned to tell her “or the bag is full?!” That was an interesting moment.," Gichuru recounted.

    Gichuru, who often described Mzee Kenyatta as more than a father to him, had several encounters with him first during the Entebbe Raid and also during the famous military fly-by in 1975.

    This fly-by was conducted after the Laikipia Airbase was finally completed and the Kenya Airforce pilots were to fly from Nairobi to the new airbase.

    "The pilots requested to do a fly-by, over Nairobi to bid the city goodbye. Mzee called to inquire what the low-flying was about and when I told him it was a farewell to Nairobi, he got excited.

    Kenya Airforce choppers in action.
    Kenya Airforce choppers in action.

    "Immediately he called the Chief of the General Staff and the Army Commander and asked them to have troops march across the streets. The surprise was when Mzee Jomo Kenyatta joined in the procession to take his salute at Kenya cinema.

    "The country was shocked (this happened to be the same time JM Kariuki was killed and there had been tension in the country) and many wondered if the military had taken over, only to realise that this was an opportunity to show our force," he recalled during the 2017 interview.

    Maj Gen (Rtd) Dedan Gichuru served as Kenya Air Force Commander from 1973 to 1980 June after which Major General PM Kariuki took over.