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President Uhuru Does Away With His Father, Jomo Kenyatta Memorial 41 Years Later

Simba Watkins

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This year marked the 41st commemoration of the death of first President Jomo Kenyatta as well as the last time the event is held publicly. President Uhuru Kenyatta, Jomo Kenyatta’s son has said after consultations with the Kenyatta family, they have decided to abolish the yearly activity.

“As President, I have consulted with the family of Mzee Kenyatta. We have agreed together that this is going to be the last celebration of 41 years of Mzee in this manner,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said at Holy Family Basilica, during the 41st commemoration of Kenyatta’s death.

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The founding father, Jomo Kenyatta died of heart attack on 22nd August 1978 after a short duration of illness. Mzee Kenyatta, an anti colonial activist and politician, is remembered for his leading role in the struggle for Kenya’s independence.

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For many years, Kenyatta had suffered health problems. He had a mild stroke in 1966, and a second in May 1968. He suffered from  gout  and heart problems, all of which he sought to keep hidden from the public. By 1970, he was increasingly feeble and senile, and by 1975 Kenyatta had—according to Maloba—”in effect ceased to actively govern”. Four Kikuyu politicians—Koinange, James Gichuru, Njoroge Muigai, and Charles Njonjo—formed his inner circle of associates, and he was rarely seen in public without one of them present.

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 This clique faced opposition from KANU back-benchers spearheaded by Kariuki; in March 1975, he was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered, and his body dumped in the Nandi Hills. After Kariuku’s murder, Maloba noted, there was a “noticeable erosion” of support for Kenyatta and his government. Thenceforth, when the president spoke to crowds, they no longer applauded his statements.

In 1977, Kenyatta had several further strokes or heart attacks. On 22 August 1978, he died of a heart attack at State House, Mombasa.

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