Uhuru Kenyatta Biography - The Fourth President of Kenya
Mr. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta normally known by his two names, Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of the founding father of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
He was born in the year 1961, October 26, two years before Kenya gained independence from her colonialist, Britain.
‘Uhuru’ is a Kiswahili word which means ‘freedom.’ Jomo Kenyatta, one of the freedom fighters for the realization of independence in Kenya from the oppressive hands of the British rule called his son by that name to signify that expectation.
Despite the fact his father was the president of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru spent less time in the State House. In fact, during the reign of his father as the president, Uhuru spent his growing years in his father’s hometown, Gatundu.
The only birthday Uhuru ever to celebrate in State House was when he was seven years-old in the year 1968.
Mr. Kenyatta began his education from kindergarten to standard two at Loreto Convent, Nirobi from 1965-1968. From 1969 to 1980 he attended the Roman Catholic school, St. Mary’s in Nairobi. As a student in this school, Uhuru played his favorite sport rugby as a winger for Saint Mary’s Nairobi Rugby team.
Sadly, his father died when he was seventeen years-old while still studying at St. Mary’s on August 22, 1978.
After completing his studies at St. Mary’s, Uhuru attended Amherst College, Massachusetts, United States, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics in the year 1985.
Uhuru Kenyatta’s Political Career
Before entering into politics, Uhuru worked as a bank teller at the Kenya Commercial Bank, Nairobi from 1978-1980; thereafter, in the year 1981 he founded his own first company, Wilham Kenya Ltd which dealt with exportation of horticultural products. In 1994, he sold his company as he wanted to concentrate in politics.
Uhuru Kenyatta met his best friend, Margaret in 1978 in Mombasa, later proposing to her in Karen in Nairobi. In 1989 they got married. They are blessed with three children, two sons and one daughter. The sons are Jaba and Jomo Kenyatta, the daughter is Ngina Kenyatta.
His political career started in the early 1990s. During this time, the then second president of Kenya, Daniel Torotich Arap Moi did not allow the freedom of political pluralism. His political party, KANU was the only political party functioning.
Therefore, in the mid-1990 among other political leaders ‘fighting’ for political pluralism, Uhuru Kenyatta together with other four young Kenyans joined the ‘fight’ requesting for the freedom of forming political parties. Mr. Kenyatta together with his friends were in their late 20s. The four young Kenyans including Uhuru were Mr. Argwings Ceaser Kodhek, Mr. Peter Mboya, Mr. Alfred Gitonga and Mr. Francis Michuki.
Finally, when president Moi allowed multi-party elections in 1992, Uhuru Kenyatta campaigned for Keneth Matiba in the position of presidency.
Before the General Election was to be held on December 1997, Uhuru Kenyatta had built enough foundation of supporters, sure of a win as a member of parliament for Gatundu South. He lost the seat of Gatundu South to Moses Muhia.
However, in 1999 he was appointed by the then president, the second president, Daniel Moi as the new chairman of the Kenya Tourism Board. In 2001 he was nominated to parliament by the same president and appointed Minister for Local Government.
In the year 2002, Uhuru contested for presidency on a KANU ticket (after President Moi gave a thumb Uhuru would be his successor) during the General Election but was defeated by Mwai Kibaki. He came at second place. The reason for the defeat is as a result of different political parties that joined together and formed a coalition known as NARC, of which Mwai Kibaki was contesting for presidency on NARC ticket.
In 2005, Uhuru leading his team of KANU which teamed up with Liberal Democratic Movement (LDP) wing of NARC campaigned against the draft constitution which Kenyans were to vote for or against it. The opposition prevailed. The LDP members had decamped from the NARC coalition as they alleged that the Memorandum of Understanding they had agreed on with Mwai Kibaki before the General Election was never fulfilled.
In a twist of events, Mr. Kenyatta backed Mwai Kibaki whom he was strongly against for a second term as president during the General Election on December, 2007. He withdrew from contending the seat of presidency instead contending for the seat of Gatundu South, a constituency which he had lost in 1997. Nevertheless, he won the Gatundu South seat.
Despite the fact the General Election was smooth during the voting day, the results were not comforting. There were so many irregularities as it was later found out the election was rigged. The two principals, Mwai Kibaki and his opponent Raila Odinga were blamed for contributing to the violence that ensued.
It was noted both sides were involved in rigging of votes as the results of the votes from different regions were exaggerated. When president Kibaki was declared the winner for a second term, it led to violence. The violence claimed over 1000 lives, over 350,000 displaced and damage of properties worth millions of shillings.
Uhuru Kenyatta was named Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade. This happened after the former UN chairman Kofi Annan brokered peace negotiations between the above principals, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga. This resulted to formation of Grand Coalition whereby Mwai Kibaki remained the president while Raila Odinga the Prime Minister. William Ruto was also named the Deputy Prime Minister. The Kofi Annan-led talks ended the post-election violence.
Later, Uhuru Kenyatta was named Finance Minister in 2009 but in January 2012 he resigned due to pressure from the opposition leaders. This was as a result of Uhuru Kenyatta named as one of the masterminds of post-election violence together with William Ruto. He was named as a suspect of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on December 15, 2010.
He was charged of the crimes against humanity by ICC along six others.
Currently, only three are facing the crimes against humanity linked to the 2008 post-election violence – Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy president, William Ruto and former local radio presenter.
On March 2013, Uhuru was declared the winner in the hotly contested seat of presidency during the General Election. He was vying for the seat of presidency on the ticket of JUBILEE coalition. His opponent, Raila Odinga filed a petition case at the Supreme Court on March 11th citing there was rigging during the election and he had evidence to prove.
The Supreme Court at the end of hearing ruled Uhuru Kenyatta was legally the winner.
UPDATE: The prosecutors withdrew the charges against the three starting with Uhuru Kenyatta on December 5, 2014; the others following months later. As of date there are no new charges against any of the three.
Talk Africa:Live interview with President Uhuru Kenyatta
His Memorable Quotes
The following are some of the quotes that were uttered by Uhuru Kenyatta during his reign as president during his first term in the office. The quotes have been extracted from Nation, BornRich, and MukuriMax.
1) We need to appreciate that we can have different shades of opinion.
2) As large parts of the world age, Africa grows younger by the day. The youthful sons and daughters of Africa are our incredible source.
3) We go into politics for leadership. Politics is not about making enemies, but respecting choices.
4) This country, this continent, does not claim perfection - but we can claim progress.
5) Kenya is aligned to neither East or West; we are, firmly and irreversibly aligned to progress.
6) The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.
7) Let us walk together to grow the economy. The government, although willing, cannot achieve everything at once.
© 2013 Alianess Benny Njuguna
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