President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday, January 2, announced the demise of the veteran politician Charles Mugane Njonjo. “It is with a heavy heart that I have this morning, Sunday 2nd January 2022, received the sad and heartbreaking news of the passing away of Hon. Charles Mugane Njonjo.
Njonjo, was the only surviving member of Kenya’s independence Cabinet, passed away peacefully at 5am sunday morning at the age of 101 years.
The passing away of Hon. Njonjo is a big blow not only to his immediate family, friends and relatives but to all Kenyans and indeed, the entire African continent because of his leading role in the founding of the Kenyan nation at independence,” the President stated.
The Head of State went on to thank the politician for his selfless contribution towards the post independence era. Njonjo served as the first Attorney General between 1963 and 1979.
He added that the country will be indebted to Njonjo and his generation for setting the pace in the country’s politics. “As a nation, we owe a debt of gratitude to Hon. Njonjo and his generation of independence era leaders for their selfless contribution to the laying of the solid foundation upon which our country continues to thrive.
“Kenya’s progressive constitutional and legal regime owes its robustness to Hon. Njonjo’s splendid work when he served as the country’s first post-independence Attorney General between 1963 and 1979, and as Constitutional Affairs Minister between 1980 and 1983. “On behalf of the Kenyan nation, my family and on my own behalf, I send deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and relatives of Hon. Njonjo, and indeed all Kenyans.
“May God the Almighty grant each one of us grace and fortitude as we mourn and come to terms with the passing away of Hon. Charles Mugane Njonjo who was not only our national hero but an icon of Kenya’s progress through the years,” the President pointed out.
It is often said that real power is held by people outside politics and behind the scenes who dictate how the country is run. If at all such people exist, Charles Njonjo would be one of them. The man’s contribution to the country has outlived him, and he has lived to enjoy the fruits of his work. He is a pillar to the judicial system as much as he is criticized in equal measure for some of his controversial decisions while he was attorney general. Well, a man is not a man without his mistakes. At 101 years, there are many good and other not so good things that will blow your mind.
At the dawn of independence in Kenya, not so many people were privileged to have had the kind of education Charles Njonjo had. That’s why it was no problem for him to navigate in key government positions such as attorney general, cabinet minister and Member of Parliament. Since then he has been a relevant figure in the political spheres of the Kikuyu community and the country at large.
We celebrate his life with some interesting facts about him:
100 years and was still going strong
Top on Charles Njonjo facts is his age. Sir Charles Njonjo was born on the 23rd of January in 1920, which makes him more than a century old this year. He celebrated his 100 birthday ion 2020, and surprisingly he was still strong as if he was in his youth. Many would imagine that at 100 years, an individual’s health would be compromised and senses such as sight and hearing would be failing. Looking at Njonjo, people will have to reevaluate their lives and establish what they can do to live that long. It cannot be luck only.
He was the only surviving member of Kenya’s first cabinet Charles Njonjo happens to be the only one alive amongst individuals who constituted Kenya’s first cabinet in 1963. Just a young lawyer at the time, Mr Njonjo had aligned himself as an ally of the first president Jomo Kenyatta. At that time he was probably younger than his peers in the cabinet which might explain why he is the only one remaining.
He was Kenya’s attorney general from 1963 until 1979 when he stepped down. Apart from aligning himself with the first president, he had proven that he could maintain stability by maintaining some of the policies that had been put in place by the whites. He did not leave public service as he was appointed the minister for Constitutional Affairs the following year and he served up to 1983.
Charles Njonjo was a family man, but many would be surprised to learn that he did not marry until his 50s. Many wonder why he chose to remain single, considering he was rich and powerful his entire life. Some have argued that the first president Mr Jomo Kenyatta is the one who forced him into marriage because the president did not like the idea of having a bachelor as an attorney general. Njonjo was waiting to settle down until he could find the woman he would spend the rest of his life with. He finally found a woman named Margaret Bryson Njonjo and the two had three children. His children are Emma Njonjo, Mary Njonjo and Josiah David. If you come along Charles Njonjo family photos, you will appreciate his beautiful family and the love they have for one another.
His Three-piece suit. Behind it is a funny story that earned him the titles Sir Charles Njonjo and the “Duke of Kabeteshire.” This is because he became famous for loving all things British. It included pinstripe suits with a red label that became the trademark of his dressing. He has made it known that he buys his suits only from London. He has had an impact on many Kenyans when it comes to dressing, and it is not surprising seeing politicians and even media personalities dressing the same. The only difference is that he has been consistent from the beginning.
Resigned from AG position to become MP. It is speculated that Charles Njonjo was aiming for a hire seat from the start. To begin with, his father was getting old, and he had pressured him to succeed Mzee Kenyatta. On the other hand, he was powerful enough as attorney general, but that wouldn’t get him to the statehouse. When the time was ripe, he stepped down to run for a parliamentary seat. Unfortunately for him, President Moi had other ideas, and out of office, Njonjo became a soft target to take the blame for the 1982 failed coup. He would later be pardoned by Moi, but his rise to the top would never come to pass.
Opposed multiparty democracy. In his wisdom, Njonjo was not a supporter of multiparty democracy. For beginners, he did not even attempt to repeal oppressive laws such as the Public Order Act that put restrictions on Kenyans from assembling. Media freedom was also restricted with those speaking against the government of the day getting it rough. Political dissenters were locked up without trial for minor offences, and thus Kenya became a single-party dictatorship.
He Was not in favor of African constituted judiciary. Njonjo did not like the idea of African judges in the judiciary. He ensured that the colonial and conservative constitution passed to Kenyans remained the same. He believed that the nation was young and perhaps informed by cases on the continent where dictators had risen and led their countries to war. He decided Kenya was worth leaving the way it was. 9. Wealth. In Kenya, politics is synonymous with riches. Even though Njonjo came from a wealthy family in the precolonial era, his various positions in government have earned him a real fortune. He is said to be among the richest men in Kenya worth billions. It is not easy to pin down Charles Njonjo net worth, but some of his properties include the Sankara Hotel, a mall in Runda, shares at CFC Holdings among many other houses, and cars. Although not many have found their way into Charles Njonjo house, it is no secret that he has a taste for fine things and he lives like a king.
Eating healthy and keeping fit. Many might question how Charles Njonjo has managed to remain healthy even at his advanced age. Crowds would be surprised to see him driving himself to the office even at 100 years old. So, what’s the secret? Word is, he would swim regularly, ride a bike and also spends some time on a treadmill. In addition to that, he stuck to a lot of vegetables and no “nyama choma” in his diet
The son of a colonial paramount chief, Charles Njonjo went on to soar in heights, not even his father Josiah Njonjo would have imagined. He went to good schools, including Alliance High School and the University of Fort Hare. Immediately he came back, he put his law education into use, and it wasn’t long before the country had the first black attorney general in Charles Njonjo. The rest is a story worth putting in a book, but Njonjo insisted that he will take his story to the grave with him. Other than that, he is celebrated for his accomplishments both as a family man and public figure in this country.