90 Facts About Mwai Kibaki on His 90th Birthday

Former President Mwai Kibaki (right) enjoys a piece of cake during a past celebration.
Former President Mwai Kibaki (right) enjoys a piece of cake during a past celebration.

Update: Former President Mwai Kibaki passed away on Friday, April 22, 2022. President Uhuru Kenyatta announced. 

Kenya's third President Mwai Kibaki on Monday, November 15, celebrated his 90th birthday albeit privately as he continued to enjoy a quiet retirement. 

Kibaki occupied a special place in Kenyan history, not just as its third president, but also one of the most influential figures in African history.

Kenyans.co.ke compiled a list of interesting facts about the retired president. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and his predecessor Mwai Kibaki.
President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and his predecessor Mwai Kibaki.
  1. Kibaki was born on November 15, 1931, to peasant parents - Kibaki Githinji and Teresia Wanjiku - in Gatuyaini village, Othaya Constituency
  2. He was the last born of Teresia Wanjiku's offsprings - but has younger siblings from his father's second wife
  3. He is an alumnus of six schools, Gatuyaini Primary School, Karima Mission School, Nyeri High School, Mangu School, Makerere University, and the London School of Economics.
  4. His childhood ambition was to become a soldier
  5. When in his final year at Mangu (1950), the government banned members of the Gikuyu, Embu, and Meru communities from joining the army due to instability linked to Mau Mau oaths
  6. He is a staunch Catholic who mostly attended catholic schools in his formative years
  7. He was baptised Emilio Stanley Mwai Kibaki
  8. Although he maintains the first two names in his legal name, he is known to dislike them and prefers to introduce himself as Mwai
  9. Favourite subject while schooling was mathematics. A classmate at Karima Mission School gave an interview in 2006, where he recalled that Kibaki shocked classmates after he cried for failing only one sum from a test administered while in Class four. They later learnt that it was the first time he had failed to get a mathematics question right.
  10. While at Karima Mission School, he also learnt carpentry and masonry as the missionaries believed African students were more likely to end up taking up jobs in the informal sector.
  11. While on holiday breaks at Nyeri High School, Kibaki moonlighted as a bus conductor for vehicles operated by the Othaya African Bus Union.
  12. He was the best student in his class at Karima, Nyeri High, Mangu, and Makerere
  13. In 1955, he graduated with a First Class Honours Degree (BA) in Economics
  14. His first job after university was in Uganda as an assistant manager at Shell East Africa
  15. In 1957, he became the first African to graduate with a first-class degree from the London School of Economics
  16. He got married at the age of 30 in 1961 to Lucy Muthoni Kagai (later First Lady Lucy Kibaki).
  17. He has four children - Judy, Jimmy, Tony and David
  18. He has several grandchildren - most famous being model and photographer Sean Andrew
  19. Of his offsprings, only Jimmy who has shown interest in politics (he recently became deputy party leader of The New Democrats party)
  20. He is the only one of his siblings to get a full formal education, an opportunity he got after his elder brother Philip Muriithi passed it to him
  21. Kibaki played a critical role in educating Philip's son, Ndiritu Muriithi, who attended some of the best schools in Kenya and abroad. The former president's nephew is now Laikipia Governor
  22. In 2018, former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura told Parliament that Kibaki, while serving as President, directed his grandchildren be given Ksh20 million scholarships
  23. He was married to Lucy for 55 years, until her passing on in 2016
  24. His father, Kibaki Githinji, lost his life in 1983 at the hands of a trusted farmhand who was sentenced to life in prison. Kibaki was Vice President at the time of the incident
  25. The retired President, in his active and retirement, has been known for his dislike for petty politics and gossip of any form
  26. His close friends admired his ability to take lots of beer without getting disorderly - as narrated by the late Cabinet Minister Njenga Karume, in his autobiography - From Charcol to Gold
  27. Those who have worked and schooled with him describe Kibaki as an avid reader and media consumer
  28. In his active years, he was a regular golf player - a sport he discovered at Mangu High School
  29. Among his lifelong friends are his former Mangu schoolmates including John Michuki, George Muhoho, Moody Awori, among others
  30. He once had a job offer to work at East African Breweries where his friend Njenga Karume was the largest distributor. He turned it down to work in politics
  31. He joined politics in 1960 after he was given a job as Kanu's Executive Director. This was after being head-hunted by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga from Uganda where he had been teaching at Makerere.
  32. He was Tom Mboya’s assistant minister in the Ministry of Economic Planning when they wrote the historic Sessional Paper 10 of 1965
  33. Despite his brilliance, insiders note that Kibaki did not ascend the Kenyatta kitchen cabinet in the early 1960s due to his closeness to Tom Mboya whose life was later terminated in 1969
  34. Mboya’s passing on left him politically vulnerable and nearly lost the 1969 election to Jael Mbogo
  35. Kibaki relocated to Othaya after the 1969 election and served as MP from 1974 to 2013
  36. He is a close family friend to current President Uhuru Kenyatta whom he run against in 2002
  37. 1961, he suggested Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's first son with Mama Ngina Kenyatta be given the baptismal name Uhuru 
  38. He was also Uhuru's godfather during baptism
  39. He is the longest-serving MP in Kenyan history (1963-2013)
  40. Kibaki was first elected MP in Nairobi’s Donholm Constituency (currently Makadara)
  41. In 1974, Time magazine rated him among the top 100 people in the world who had the potential to lead
  42. Has headed 4 ministries - Commerce, Finance, Home Affairs, and Health
  43. He has been a Cabinet Minister for 35 years (1966-1991)
  44. Vice President for 10 years (1978-1988)
  45. Leader of Official Opposition for five years (1997-2002)
  46. He seconded a motion to make Kenya a one-party state in 1982
  47. He coined the famous phrase that trying to bring multiparty democracy was akin to cutting down a mugumo tree with a razor blade
  48. He was one of the first beneficiaries of multipartyism in 1991 when he formed DP
  49. Kibaki had been rigged out in the 1988 mlolongo elections. In anger, he protested with the famous words "even rigging requires some little intelligence"
  50. He was in a wheelchair when he was sworn in as Kenya’s third president on December 30, 2002
    Undated image Former President Mwai Kibaki's son Jimmy (left) speaking to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
    Undated image Former President Mwai Kibaki's son Jimmy (left) speaking to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
  51. His known nicknames include Obako and General Kiguoya (nicknamed by Ken Matiba over his failure to confront Moi on multipartyism)
  52. He is known for his love of nyama choma goat ribs. According to Karume, Kibaki would often join the team serving the roast meat at social occasions where he would cheekily start the feast as his colleagues awaited their portions
  53. He is known for his love of Mercedes sedans - even in his retirement
  54. Known to be a car collector. His private garage in Muthaiga has most of the cars he has ever owned. 
  55. He has survived three strokes - 1983, 2003, and in 2016. 
  56. As President, he still consisted himself as Minister of Finance and required the relevant minister to brief him on all developments in the docket
  57. He was the only minister who attended JM Kariuki's funeral in 1975
  58. Known for his tough negotiation skills
  59. His first experience with teargas was in May 1997 when he joined civil rights groups and opposition leaders in a protest calling for election reforms
  60. He never made a public address in his mother tongue during the ten years he was president
  61. A longtime resident of Muthaiga where he has two homes 
  62. Member of Muthaiga and Nyeri Golf Clubs
  63. Belonged to four political parties - Kanu, DP, Narc, and PNU
  64. Mwai Kibaki Road in Dar es Salaam is named in his honour
  65. Mwai Kibaki Road in Nairobi was named in his honour - after he left office
  66. He made only 33 foreign trips for the ten years he was president
  67. As President, he declined multiple requests to have roads, universities, or schools was named after him
  68. His portrait does not appear on the face of currency notes 
  69. The only exemption was the commemorative 40 bob coin
  70. Kenya's third president oversaw the upgrade of Thika Road into an 8-lane highway. The road cost Ksh32 billion and stretches 56 kilometres from Nairobi to Kenol
  71. In 2010, he became a victim of Kenya’s fraudulent land deals after he bought a beach plot that had multiple title deeds irregularly assigned to purported owners
  72. In 2016, Kibaki and other shareholders of Mathingira Wholesalers Limited moved to court to wrestle control of a small building in Nyeri town
  73. In 2009 addressed a presser with lucy Kibaki where he clarified that he had only one wife 
  74. In 1998, Kibaki paid fees for Mwangi Kiunjuri to get a law degree which he has never completed
  75. In January 2013, he signed a law that gave him a Ksh25 million lumpsum retirement package
  76. The retirement perks also included a Ksh400 million retirement home in Mweiga which came with multiple servants and a petrol station for his vehicles
  77. Known for his dislike of harambees, Kibaki enacted the Public Officer Ethics Act 2003, which prohibits public officials from presiding over fundraisers
  78. He is the highest-paid individual among serving and retired public servants as of 2021
  79. He earns a pension of about Ksh2.86 million per month compared to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s monthly salary of Ksh1.44 million
  80. Oversaw the promulgation of the 2010 constitution - praised as one of the most progressive in the world
  81. Made Kenya’s official declaration of war against Al Shabab in 2011, resulting in KDF’s 10-year stay in Somalia
  82. Oversaw the re-introduction free primary education in 2003
  83. Led Kenya’s adoption of technology under the Vision 2030 flagship. This saw the introduction of fibre cable into Kenya, design of smart cities such as Konza, among others
  84. Has been criticised by allies and foes alike over the controversial 2007 elections and upheaval that followed his 6 pm swearing-in as president
  85. He is the only Kenyan president who never publicly dressed in military regalia 
  86. He has interests at the International Life House where the late Chris Kirubi was a majority shareholder
  87. Only Kenyan President who publicly reprimanded allies who asked him to extend his term
  88. One of the largest landowners in Kenya with farms in Nanyuki, Mweiga, Rimuruti, Bahati
  89. Despite having many upcountry homes, he prefers the quiet life in Nairobi's Muthaiga suburbs where he has spent the majority of his retirement days
  90. Kibaki has Seven honorary degrees
    Retired President Mwai Kibaki with ODM leader Raila Odinga
    Retired President Mwai Kibaki with ODM leader Raila Odinga