Kenya’s first Prime Minister in 1963 and later the founding President of the brand new republic from 1964, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, was a man who dedicated himself to the struggle for independence and was in the early years sent abroad as a representative of the Kenya African Union (Kau), the precursor to the Kenya African National Union (Kanu). He was a revered public personality as the people’s leader, but he also relished his private life.
As the President of Kenya, he even had a private residence in Bamburi on the North Coast, which he used to “run to” for a quiet moment while staying at the official residence, State House, Mombasa.
Whenever he visited the coast, Mzee Kenyatta liked to fully relax and often enjoyed walking along the beach wearing shorts, and a shirt that his youngest wife, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, had bought him, and sandals, but at times he removed them and his minders would carry them behind him as he swung his bakora (walking stick), barefoot.
Though the country had several official residences for the Head of State, Mzee Kenyatta preferred the Mombasa State House, enjoying the warm climate and Indian Ocean breeze.
To date, however, very little is known about Mzee Kenyatta’s private Bamburi home.
Mzee Kenyatta, who died in office at State House, Mombasa, in 1978, would while on a working holiday to the coast, relax at the Bamburi beach cottage and enjoy the serene environment with his friends and minimal security around him.
LitKenya.com’s check into the archives has revealed that Mzee Kenyatta’s goat herdsman was once left to take care of the President’s new swimming pool at the coast.
But by the time Mzee returned to the coast, he found that the water had turned green with algae.
It would later emerge that the herdsman only turned on the water circulation system whenever he heard that Mzee Kenyatta was on the way to Mombasa!
The swimming pool issue would lead to some war of words between the then Defence Minister, Dr Njoroge Mungai, and Kenyatta’s private secretary, Eliud Mathu.
This was after Dr Mungai had decided, apparently without consulting Mr Mathu, to order some lime from Smith Mackenzie & Company to clean the pool.
Our continued check into Mzee Kenyatta’s private life led us to a rare and amazing photo of Mzee taken on the Mombasa beach alongside his friends, and colleagues (Dr Njoroge Mungai (left), Muinga Chokwe (second right), the Speaker of the Senate from 1963 to 1966, and Tom Mboya (right), popularly known as TJ, the mercurial Cabinet Minister and former trade union leader and Kamkunji MP, who was assassinated in July 1969).
Here is the photo;