The Koinanges: Blue Eyed Family That Has Held Power for Over 100 Yrs

  • Attorney General Paul Kihara (L), the late Mbiu Koinange and media personality Jeff Koinange.
    Attorney General Paul Kihara (L), the late Mbiu Koinange and media personality Jeff Koinange.
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  • William Shakespeare, the legendary English playwright once quipped that some people are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon. In Kenya, to be born a Koinange is almost a sure way to greatness if history is anything to go by. 

    For as long as Kenya has existed, the Koinanges have been a critical part of its history, occupying positions of power in government and in the private sector. 

    The family is one that has managed to stay in power for over 100 years since the days of Senior Chief Koinange, an administrator in the colonial government.

    The late cabinet Minister Mbiu Koinange (L) and president Jomo Kenyatta in a past photo
    The late cabinet Minister Mbiu Koinange (L) and president Jomo Kenyatta in a past photo
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    The story begins with Koinange Wa Mbiyu who was appointed as headman in 1921 by the colonial government. It was just a year after Kenya had been declared a British colony with headmen being some of the most powerful officials. 

    17 years later, he was appointed as the Senior chief before serving as an adviser on African affairs to the DC until 1949 when he retired.

    In 1952, however, he was detained by the colonial government for exploitation of land in the Central Province of Kenya and was only released in 1960. At this time, however, his health had deteriorated and died shortly at the age of 95.

    He was the patriarch of the Koinange family. He had six wives and a number of children. One of his daughters, Grace Wanjiku, got married to Kenya's first President Jomo Kenyatta in 1946, becoming the third wife.

    Wanjiku, however, died while giving birth to Jeni Wambui in 1951. Her daughter, Jeni Wambui survived and was adopted by Kenyatta's fourth wife, Mama Ngina.

    Wambui is the mother to Soiya, Nana and Jomo Gecaga. Nana and Jomo are currently serving in President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration in senior government positions. 

    The KICC Managing Director Nana Gecaga goes about her daily activities in her office.
    The KICC Managing Director Nana Gecaga goes about her daily activities in her office.
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    Nana is the CEO of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), a building owned by the government of Kenya. The building hosts conferences, concerts and exhibitions.

    On the other hand, Jomo Gecaga is the president's private secretary.

    Also serving in Uhuru's administration is Attorney General Paul Kariuki. He is the son of Lilian Wairimu, a daughter of senior chief Koinange.

    Senior chief Koinange's son Mbiyu Koinange served in first president Jomo Kenyatta's administration as his right-hand man and in government for 16 years. 

    During this time, he served as the Minister of State for Education, External Affairs, Pan-African Affairs, and Minister of State in the Office of the President. He was the first Kenyan to get a bachelor's degree. He also served as MP for Kiambaa constituency. 

    At his height, Mbiyu was so powerful that he is reported to have refused to sleep in the same room with any of his wives out to fear that he would reveal state secrets in his sleep

    Mbiyu Koinange (R) who served as a minister in first president Jomo Kenyatta's government.
    Mbiyu Koinange (R) who served as a minister in first president Jomo Kenyatta's government.
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    Another of Senior Chief Koinange's son is Fred Mbiyu Koinange, who was the first Kenyan of African descent to own a petrol station. He was the father of media personality Jeff Koinange. Jeff has been a heavyweight in the Kenyan media industry for two decades.

    In 2013, the media personality confirmed that the late Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange was part of the senior chief family after he informed that they were cousins. Paul was the son of John Karuga Koinange (Senior Chief's son) who served as Kiambaa Senator between 1963 and 1966. 

    Wilfred Koinange, a powerful Finance PS in President Daniel arap Moi's government, was also a member of the Koinange family. He was the son of Noah Karuga, another of the Senior Chief's sons who stood trial for allegedly aiding the Mau Mau in the 1950s.

    The family has continued to build ties with other powerful families. For instance, Mama Ngina's brother, George Muhoho, married Jeni Njeri Koinange, daughter of Senator John Koinange - cementing ties to the powerful family of Senior Chief Muhoho as well as that of the Kenyatta clan. 

    The late Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange speaking during a past Kenya Police Service event
    The late Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange speaking during a past Kenya Police Service event
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