When Mzee Jomo Kenyatta became Prime Minister in June 1963, he promised to fight poverty, ignorance and disease. In his first year in power, Kenyatta realized that he required at least £56 million for health, education and many other sectors. But only £2.5 million was available locally through taxation. The rest was to come from outside sources and economic management had to be apt. Kenyatta took power at a time of political uncertainty for industry and agriculture, both dominated by whites. These investors were nervous that the Kenyatta government might not protect their investments and markets. Many were ready to leave.

Some three years after independence, the country was plunged into an economic crisis after the breakup of the dollar exchange system followed by a global monetary disorder. In 1973, the oil crisis wiped out the gains made by the coffee boom. All these challenges faced Kenyatta in his attempt to lay fine foundation of a new nation.

Before 1963, the colonial government had regulated the expansion of African merchant capital. The existing colonial business regulation was crafted to prevent excessive competition among indigenous traders. The number of retail outlets in the African reserves was limited and this had been one of the contentious points during the clamour for independence.

With few Africans engaged in business, Kenyatta was forced to Kenyanise the retail sector by ring-fencing registration. Only indigenous Africans were allowed to operate retail trade.

Another problem that faced Kenyatta was that the independence constitution had set up regional (majimbo) governments while he was for a unitary state under a central government.

Kenyatta asserted full administrative control of the country through the civil service rather than political officials. He later abandoned the division of services espoused in the majimbo constitution and ministries undertook activities within the regions. To keep tabs on the administration of the provinces, he put the provincial administration under the Office of the President.

This enabled him to control development and have a tight hold on the district affairs.

The developmental challenge was whether to continue with and augment the colonial institutions or scrap them and start afresh.

In the first decade of independence, the official development policy was termed “African socialism”, as outlined in Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965. The policy called for a mixed economy and its Kenyanisation, although the framework was undoubtedly capitalist.

The State not only encouraged domestic and foreign private enterprise but also created large public sector corporations and invested heavily in the physical and social infrastructure. The growth rates were high, averaging 6.6 per cent between 1963 and 1973. But by the early 1970s it had become clear that growth by itself was not a panacea for intricate problems of economic development, as evidence mounted that regional and social inequalities, poverty and unemployment persisted and, in fact, were deepening. In the eastern Africa region and within the Organization of African Unity, Kenyatta was highly respected.

Despite his minimal travel abroad, he was constantly consulted to broker peace. Kenyatta managed to run the country through various political and economic upheavals and is best remembered for laying the solid foundation on which the Kenyan nation stands.

The Harambee Spirit

The term Harambee was popularized by Kenyatta to rally the nation to “pull together” resources for development, shortly after he was named the Prime Minister.

Harambee replaced the previous slogan, Uhuru, which had been used as the rallying call for independence.

One of the most successful of these efforts Was the harambee schools initiative, in which politicians led their constituents in building schools and later on, health centers and other voluntary community self—help projects.

As a mobilizing slogan, haram— bee managed to rally the nation together at a time when the Government was under pressure from disillusioned freedom fighters who were demanding free land while the government resources to carry out infrastructural developments was inadequate. The idea was to pool resources together at the community level for a common purpose.

The idea was embraced by the political elite and those looking for leadership positions and was over the years the single most important barometer for leadership.

During such ceremonies, a chief guest was selected to give his donation to supplement what had been pooled together by the local community.

Through these efforts, the government ensured many community development projects were started in the rural areas, with some of the most notable ones being Murang’a College of Technology, the Ukamba Agricultural Institute (now South Eastern University College), Kiambu Institute of Technology (KIST), Kimathi Institute of Technology in Nyeri, Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology, Western College of Applied Sciences (now Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology) and Ramogi Institute of Science and Technology (RIAT)

While Harambee later became an instrument of extortion, with chiefs invoking the Chief’s Act to extort money from the community and intimidate traders to forcefully contribute, the Harambee spirit has remained grounded in the African value of solidarity.

But there have been efforts to streamline contributions and check its abuse.

The harambee spirit, however, remains one of the single largest achievements of Jomo Kenyatta.

Economic Development


Agriculture has been the bedrock of the Kenyan economy even before independence. For continuity and to reassure the white settlers that they could eke a living alongside new African farmers, Kenyatta reappointed a former colonial Agriculture Minister Bruce McKenzie to the same docket. The reassurance came from Kenyatta in an August 13, 1963, meeting organized for white settlers in the Nakuru Town Hall by Lord Delamere, the Kenya National Farmers Union chairman. Kenyatta agreed to stop stock theft and party youth wing activities that were the source of fear among the remaining settlers. He also assured the farmers that the sanctity of land ownership would be respected.


To grow the export economy through a stable African-backed agricultural enterprise, the Government set up new institutions, such as the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), and the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) to protect the incoming African large-scale farmers.

Marketing boards previously serving the White settlers became a mix of expatriate manpower and locals and were backed by external funds and government budgetary allocations.

Throughout his presidency, Kenyatta pursued an agricultural policy that made export production the basis of economic development as part of a government policy to eradicate poverty and create employment.

He also encouraged smallholder growers, especially in tea, coffee and sugar.

For instance, the smallholder tea growers saw the Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) emerge as a powerful institution that provided extension services to the farmers and encouraged them to grow tea in large numbers.

The mandate of KTDA (now the Kenya Tea Development Agency) is to help small-scale tea farmers to build and manage tea-processing factories, improve farm husbandry and ensure the export of high quality teas to the global market.

KTDA also maintains roads in the small—scale tea growing areas to ensure leaf collection from farms to the factories is done efficiently.

Today, Kenya is the largest exporter of black tea in the world, with the smallholder farmers accounting for more than 60 per cent of the export. Tea has also become a top foreign exchange earner for Kenya, sharing position 1-2-3 over the years with horticulture and tourism. Tea has also been the key driver of rural industrialization throughout the country, spurring economic and social development in tea growing regions. In horticultural, the Government established the Horticultural Crop Development Authority (HCDA) in 1967 to develop the sector. The HCDA has been able to help farmers in an advisory and regulatory capacity over the years and today the country is a major exporter of horticultural produce.

Agricultural subsidy, financial aid Institutions that helped agricultural growth with the provision of inputs were set up. Organizations such as the Kenya Farmers Association were encouraged to thrive and import farm inputs at subsidized rates. The Government also set up the Settlement Trustee Fund to enable the new African farmers to access capital to buy farms, dairy animals and farm inputs for those who were resettled in the new schemes.

Dairy farmers were provided with loans to acquire land, grade dairy animals and fencing facilities. The credit facilities were long-term and attracted low interests rates. Farmers training institutes, which introduced modern methods of animal husbandry, were also established.

During the Kenyatta presidency, the Government subsidized agricultural fertilizers and diesel to enable farmers to break even. The thinking then was that agriculture was the panacea for rural growth. The State also controlled the prices of commodities such as maize, wheat and rice, but this state involvement was viewed as unsustainable, costly and responsible for the market distortion in the mid~80s. As a result, the IMF and World Bank forced many countries, including Kenya, to abandon this policy.

Kenyatta continued with the thinking adopted in the Swynnerton Plan of 1954 that laid out the roadmap towards modernizing agriculture in the former African reserves. This included developing infrastructure in the agricultural. Potential areas to boost production and the economy.

One of the highlights of this policy was the setting up of irrigation schemes and the establishment of the National Irrigation Board in 1966.

Foreign Direct Investments

One of the hallmarks of the Kenyatta presidency was industrial development. From the 1960s to the mid-70s, Kenya enjoyed a high growth rate with the manufacturing growing steadily. By encouraging industrial development, the Government hoped to create employment and ground for capital required for long-term industrialization, and bring in needed skills and technical expertise.

The government in 1968 set up an interdepartmental committee to review applications from multinational companies wishing to invest in Kenya. The committee brought together officers from the Treasury, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation ICDC), the Development Finance Company of Kenya (DFCK) and the ministries of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Following the 1973 oil crisis, the government deliberately started encouraging establishment of heavy industries.

Sometime in March, 1974, Kenyatta met Lord Stokes, the chairman of British Leyland. Shortly after that meeting, the government announced that a million-pound vehicle assembly plant would be built in Thika.

Tie plant was to assemble Land-Rovers, Leyland trucks and Volkswagens for the local market. The enterprise – a joint venture between the Government, CMC Cooper Motors and British Leyland — was to fill the gap left by the 1971 closure of the short-lived Leyland Albion (East Africa) plant.

Kenyatta’s government — and especially the Ministry of Commerce and Industry under Dr Julius Gikonyo Kiano – was always looking for such companies to invest in Kenya to create employment and save the country foreign exchange. One of the highlights of the above project was the training of local technical and managerial staff. Soon the Volkswagen micro-buses became the face of the tourist industry. Land-Rovers continued to be the official government ministry vehicles. The Leyland trucks were the backbone of Kenya’s transport business. Previously, all these had to be imported, using up foreign exchange reserves at an alarming rate.

Another big industry established in 19705 was the Dawa Pharmaceuticals, which saw the imports of many pharmaceutical products stopped and drug shortages eased. This was a joint venture with ICDC and the Pharmaceutical Works of Yugoslavia. While only three such firms were operating in Kenya by 1963, other new entrants included Wellcome Ltd, Asia Pharmaceuticals, Boots of India, Switzerland’s Ciba—Geigy and Mac’s Pharmaceuticals, and the Dutch, Howse and McGeorge. Others were Bayer Chemicals and Cosmos.

It was one of the efforts that Kenyatta made to encourage investments in Kenya and to save dwindling foreign exchange. Other industries competed for a share of the textile market. They included Raymond, which was exporting blankets to Europe and competing with government-owned Rift Valley Textiles, which had dominated the Kanga market in East Africa, and Kisumu Cotton Mills (KICOMI).

These firms employed thousands of people and were part of the overall strategy to eradicate poverty

Organized Labour Movement

Kenya had a vibrant labour movement, which had emerged during the colonial days. Some of its notable leaders included Tom Mboya, Clement Lubembe, Chege Kibachia, Denis Akumu, Arthur Ochwada and Pio Gama Pinto.

The most notable Workers organizations were the Kenya Federation of Labour led by Mboya until 1963 when he quit as secretary— general to take up a ministerial position, and Akumu’s Kenya African Workers Congress.

Mboya was also Kanu secretary’ general, a position that made him the only trade unionist close to Kenyatta.  But a split within the labour movement and incessant strikes shortly after independence caused an industrial scare, which could have disrupted Kenyatta’s vision of ending poverty and growing the economy.

The Government decided to take firm control of the labour movement and appointed a nine-member committee comprising cabinet ministers, including Mboya, to address three issues:

  • Review the trade union situation;
  • To make recommendations on the policy contained in page 56 of Sessional Paper No. 10. African Socialism and its Application to Planning in Kenya, which calls for “one central organization for trade unions in the country”; and
  • To protect the workers and advance the interests of the nation as a whole.

The bitter rivalry between members of KFL and Kenya African Workers Congress in 1965 forced the committee to recommend the deregistration of the two organizations.

The Kenya Federation of Labour and Kenya African Workers Congress were required to cancel all affiliations outside Kenya within the next four weeks and then cease to exist. All their assets were passed to the new body, the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu), whose secretary—general, Clement Lubembe, was appointed through a presidential decree.

The Presidential committee said in its report that “distinct personality clashes” were the main problem between and within the two unions. Actually, the battle was more or less between two political factions, one led by Mboya and another by Odinga. While Mboya’s political faction controlled the Kenya Federation of Labour, the Odinga faction (whose face was Denis Akumu) supported the Kenya African Workers Congress. It also noted that local trade unions were influenced by foreign bodies, with KFL mostly allied to the Western bloc labour unions while KAWC was allied to Eastern unions. Announcing the new measures to streamline the labour movement, Kenyatta said the recommendations of the committee were not a matter for debate or argument.

“There has been enough quarrelling in the past,” he said. “Kenya must have industrial peace. I have studied the recommendations of the committee and I am sure that these proposals will promote that peace we all want – with fairness to all parties.”

The Joint Disputes Committee had become the Industrial Court in 1964 to enforce industrial relations and restrain wage conflicts. Kenyatta also muted industrial action and slowed down the activism within the labour movement to give industrial development a chance. With COTU leadership supporting the Government’s policy on the need for industrial growth to create employment, the number of strikes dwindled and the movement was affiliated to the ruling party, Kanu. Its leaders were constantly sanctioned by the State.


Kenyatta inherited an education system with an underdeveloped teaching profession. With slightly over 21,000 teachers in the primary schools, there was a big exodus after independence of white teachers, leaving many institutions lacking adequate staff. But by 1972, the Ministry of Education had reached the national goal of one teacher for every 40 students. There was also employment of untrained teachers from 1974.

During Kenyatta’s reign, the enrolment at the primary level increased by 23.3 per cent between 1964 and 1968, from 980,849 to 1,209,680. This rose even further such that by 1978 nearly 93 per cent of school-age pupils were enrolled, up from less than 60 per cent in 1963. Enrollment in 1978 stood at 4 million pupils. The highest rates of growth were witnessed between 1970 and 1974 following the announcement that school fees had been abolished, first in semi—arid areas and for needy cases throughout the country, and second, for the first four years in 1974 throughout the country.

When the East African Community was functioning, the three leaders, Kenyatta, Obote and Nyerere, wanted a common education system. The only university then was the University Of East Africa at Makerere in Uganda. Admission had to be based on some agreed uniform or equivalent years of primary and secondary education. To deal with this problem, Nyerere, Kenyatta and Obote called for a common seven-year primary education cycle.

Consequently, in 1964, Kenyatta scrapped the Standard IV examination and the primary and intermediate courses were replaced by one consolidated seven-year primary course that was fully implemented in 1966.

This resulted in a rapid increase in the number of children sitting the Kenya Preliminary Examination (KPE), taken at the end of the primary cycle, from 62,000 in 1964 to 133,000 in 1966. KPE was renamed Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) after independence.

Uganda also introduced changes leading to the merging of the six – year primary education and the two-year junior secondary into one seven-year primary education system by 1967. This had a significant impact on access because “formerly only about one out of three or four primary – school pupils obtained places”. At independence in 1963, there were only 31 Kenyan students training as secondary school teachers at Makerere University College. In 1968, the Teachers Service Commission was established to register teachers, regulate the profession, and recruit and employ qualified teacher.

Kenyatta’s achievement in education was impressive. Adult illiteracy, which at independence stood at 50 per cent of the population, fell steadily. Gross secondary school enrolment grew from two per cent in 1960 to a peak of 28 per cent of secondary school age children in 1991. The first university, the University of Nairobi, was established m 1970. Kenyatta also encouraged the churches to continue playing an important role in the development of education. Churches introduced vocational training institutions, commonly called village polytechnics. The Church also established badly—needed special schools, such as schools for the blind, the deaf and the physically handicapped.

Strong Fiscal Policy

On September 14, 1966, Kenyatta launched Kenya’s own currency to replace the East African shilling. Also on the same day, Kenyatta opened a new Central Bank of Kenya, which had followed the enactment of the Central Bank of Kenya Act on March 24, 1966. One Kenyan shilling was equivalent to one East African shilling, which was still a legal tender as the mopping up continued.

By then only the Kenyan notes were in circulation, in the denominations of Sh5, Sh10, Sh20, Sh50 and Sh. 100. They bore the portrait of Kenyatta on the front While the reverse reflected Kenya’s economic activities.

The Kenyan coins were introduced on April 10, 1967 in denominations of Sh. 1 and Sh. 2 and of 50, 25, 10 and five cents. The coins bore the portrait of Kenyatta on the front and the Coat of Arms on the back.

Maintaining a strong shilling remained one of the hallmarks of Kenyatta’s rule. When the British government devalued its pound in 1967, Kenyatta and his counterparts in Uganda and Tanzania decided against devaluation of the almost defunct East African shilling to which the currencies of all three countries were tied.

British Prime Minister Harold Wilson had devalued the pound against the dollar as a result of his government’s own poor economic performance, rocking the World’s money markets.

To manage the rally of the Kenya shilling, Kenyatta ordered the closure of all banks on Monday November 20, 1967, for a day because most of the foreign currency reserves that backed the shilling were held in pound sterling.

The three ministers for finance met that day and concluded that the “circumstances prevailing in East Africa did not in any way justify a change in the par value of the currencies”. The British pound after the devaluation was worth only Sh17.1 rather than the previous Sh20 parity.

In December, 1971, Kenyatta allowed the devaluation of the shilling against the dollar. This was prompted by the devaluation of the US dollar. Since October 8, 1971, Kenyatta had allowed the Kenyan shilling to be pegged to the American dollar, ending the allegiance to the pound sterling. The move came with three per cent devaluation at the time and one sterling pound exchanged for Sh18 .55. The dollar exchanged at Sh7.14.

Also, the government banned the Central Bank from selling any foreign currency to businesses wanting to buy goods that could be made in Kenya. Kenyatta hoped this would reduce inflationary pressure, reduce imports and protect the country’s foreign exchange reserves. Believing that local banks were seriously over-lending, his Finance Minister, Mwai Kibaki, wanted to check the further growth of loans. Many companies had been speculating by buying unnecessary stock, hoping that prices would rise the following year.

Industrial Support, Africanisation

During Kenyatta’s rule, Kenya’s economic growth was strong and the Government promoted an Africanisation policy to put commerce into the hands of indigenous communities. Between 1963 and 1970, the economy made an average real growth of five per cent and from 1970 to 1978 at an average of seven per cent despite being slowed down by the oil crisis of 1974.

The growth rates experienced under the Kenyatta rule were partly as a result of measures taken to support small-scale agriculture, encourage the cultivation of cash crops such as tea, coffee and hybrid maize, as well as the development of dairy farming.

As a result of this and good market conditions, rural incomes rose by five per cent a year from 1974 to 1982, and the smallholders’ share of coffee and tea production rose to 40 and 70 per cent respectively by the time Kenyatta died in 1978.  In the 1963-1978 period, there was sustained commodity exportation that was providing a good flow of foreign exchange.

During the early years of independence, Kenya achieved commendable economic growth compared with other developing countries. During much of Kenya’s post-independence history, a strong anti—export bias existed. The flat rebate export compensation scheme put into place in 1974 was ineffective and benefited only large exporters.

This rapid growth resulted mainly from a successful implementation of rural development policies. Kenyatta’s rallying call of Turudi Mashambani (Back to the Farms) led to increased agricultural output which was supported by good macro—economic management.

Also, access to the East African Community market enabled various industries to tap new markets for growth.

In the decade after independence, the public sector made significant strides in promoting infrastructural development. This also saw Africanisation of business in Kenya. In July 27, 1973, Kenyatta opened the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation’s new headquarters — Uchumi House — in Nairobi.

The ICDC was to serve as the Government’s most powerful instrument for Africanizing and developing the economy.

The 20—storey building, said the President, was to serve as a symbol of the country’s stability and investment worthiness – “another monument of achievement in a free Kenya”.

In the initial period, ICDC invested nearly £10 million in businesses and industries, with a firm commitment towards increasing African participation in the economy. This commitment came in the form of loans to entrepreneurs to help them negotiate foreign credits for major investment. By 1973, Kenya was only rivalled by Ivory Coast in economic growth. The ICDC was regarded as one of the most viable and successful parastatals of its kind in the developing world.

In 1967, Kenyatta launched the Kenya Industrial Estates (KIE), as a subsidiary of the ICDC, to promote indigenous entrepreneurship by financing and developing small-scale and micro-enterprises.

The KIE was established to facilitate development and incubate micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) countrywide by establishing industrial parks and providing credit and business development services. The KIE has financed more than 30,000 entrepreneurs since 1967 and continues to promote local businesses and enhance technology transfer to indigenous Kenyans.

Expansion of Parastatals

Kenyatta’s era also saw significant changes in the structure of Kenya’s economy, which led to the expansion of the state—owned enterprise sector – the parastatals.

These were mainly involved in manufacturing, financial services, processing and marketing of agricultural products and tourism.

They covered virtually all economic sectors. While these engendered distortions and inefficiencies, they managed to make profits before they, in later years, started draining the national coffers.

Large financing requirements of parastatals, combined with favoritism from the state-owned banking sector, crowded out private sector production and investment.

The Kenyatta government adopted an import substitution strategy to support industrial development. The strategy promoted capital – intensive technologies and kept Kenya out of the labour—intensive manufacture of commodities, such as garments, footwear and light assemblies.

Protection of local industry gave rise to an over-regulated, over concentrated and uncompetitive industrial structure.

The strategy worked in the short term and delivered annual growth rates of five and 11 per cent in the 1970s and 1980s.

An over—extended and monopolistic public sector became involved in both manufacturing and services. Parastatal investments crowded out private investment and decreased investment efficiency.

Local Political Stability

Defence of Kenya’s Nationhood

As soon as Kenyatta took power in 1963, he quickly landed into secessionist troubles With Somalia. The defence of Kenya’s nationhood became one of the hallmarks of the Kenyatta government.

Shortly after independence, a state of emergency was declared in the North Eastern Region. One of his first Cabinet meetings at his Gatundu home was to discuss the security situation in the region.

How Kenyatta handled the situation, as attacks on civilians and government installations started, was going to gauge his leadership. Throughout 1963, Kenyatta tried to foster national unity as the eastern and northern borders of Kenya were turned into battle zones. The Shifta wars exploded after ethnic Somalis in the North and East expressed a Wish to secede and join the Republic of Somalia.

The Somalia Government had wanted all the Somali—speaking areas within its neighbours to secede and join Somalia. But during the March, 1963, Lancaster Constitutional talks, Mandera, Wajir, Moyale and Garissa were lumped together into a single new region.

Somalia wanted the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, the former British, French and Italian Somalilands and Kenya’s former Northern Frontier District (NFD) to join it into one country. Kenyatta refused.

Somalia continued to exert pressure on the British and, to an extent, on Kenyatta to agree to the demands. It raised the stakes higher on March 21, 1963, when it demanded at a UN meeting in New York that either Britain cede Kenya’s NFD or conduct a referendum to determine what the inhabitants wanted. It then withdrew its ambassador from London and asked all Britons to leave Mogadishu.

The war on the secessionists became one of the biggest challenges on the Kenyatta leadership.

But in October, 1967, Kenyatta and Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Egal signed a six-point memorandum in Arusha to stop the undeclared war between the two nations.

By then more than 2,000 people had died and Kenya had spent £3 million a year to stem the crisis. Kenyatta insisted on maintaining the integrity of Kenya’s territorial boundaries regardless of the ethnic origins of the inhabitants. During the Madaraka Day of 1967, Kenyatta declared a 30-day amnesty for Shifta gangs and implored them to lay down their weapons. “You have been led into a senseless and bitter conflict with your own brothers, who have suffered death, looting and terrorism dictated by a handful of vain and desperate politicians living comfortably in Mogadishu,” he said.

The Arusha agreement, brokered by Zambia’s President Kenneth Kaunda, called for the prevention of the destruction of human life and property, a halt to hostile propaganda, gradual suspensions of hostilities on both sides of the border, establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and consideration of measures to encourage development of economic and trade relations.

National Cohesion

With several African nations facing internal strifes, Kenyatta maintained national cohesion by discouraging divisive politics. The voluntary dissolution of the opposition Kadu party had solidified national unity under Kanu. It is now debatable whether the death of the opposition at that time ensured national cohesion or was to blame for the excesses within Kanu. But Kenyatta ensured that there were no divisive politics. One example was when he stopped on October 6, 1976, a campaign that had started to ostensibly change the Constitution to bar Vice-President Daniel Arap Moi from taking over for 90 days in case Kenyatta was incapacitated. The campaign had been started by Nakuru North MP Kihika Kimani, the national organizing secretary of Gema (the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru Association), at a rally attended by three Cabinet ministers and 20 MPs.

There — at a meeting where Vice- President Daniel Arap Moi was the man under attack — Kihika led a call for the Constitution to be changed so that the Vice-President would not automatically succeed the President in the event of death, illness or insanity. Kimani received support from Gema chairman Njenga Karume and Cabinet ministers Njoroge Mungai (Foreign), James Gichuru (Defence), Jackson Angaine (Lands and Settlement) and many other political power players.

Cooperatives Minister Paul Ngei warned that a lot could happen within the 90 days ‘before an election after an unexpected departure of the President: “If you give me that period,” he said, “I can really teach you a lesson and I would assure you that it would not be a pleasant lesson.”

As these calls heightened, Kenyatta ordered a stop to the Change-the-Constitution campaign. After a meeting in Nakuru with Kenyatta, constitutionalist Attorney—General Charles Njonjo, reminded Gema members: “Those few who are being used to advocate the amendment, (should know) that it is a criminal offence for any person to compass, imagine, devise or intend the death or deposition of the President the mandatory sentence for any such offence by a citizen is death.”

With that, the campaign to bar Moi from ascending to the presidency came to an abrupt end. Earlier, Kenyatta had faced other challenges that threatened national unity. The first was the assassination of freedom hero, Pio Gama Pinto, in 1965.

Dogged by ill—health from 1968, Kenyatta’s rule was complicated by the emergence of an opposition party led by his erstwhile Vice-President Odinga. Before that, a turf war between Mboya and Odinga and which was largely informed by ideological differences between the two had emerged.

The defection of 29 MPs to Odinga’s KPU worried Kenyatta and, fearing a backlash, a retrospective legislation — the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution since independence — was passed in a record one day. All MPs who had abandoned Kanu had to seek fresh mandate in a By-election.

Another constitutional amendment in June and July, 1966, gave the Minister for Home Affairs powers to detain individuals without trial.

It was, however, the assassination of Mboya on July 5, 1969, which saw Kenyatta’s administration painted as brutish. The death united the Luo, who felt that Mboya was the target of a group in the Kenyatta government eager to perpetuate the Kikuyu leadership.

The death of Mboya saw the rivalry between the Luo and the Kikuyu deepen, with reported skirmishes in major towns pitting the two. The row climaxed in October, 1969, when Kenyatta visited Kisumu to open the New Nyanza Hospital. The public rally in Kisumu town not only turned rowdy but Kenyatta’s motorcade was stoned. KPU was banned shortly after and all KPU officials, including Odinga, became the first group to be detained under the new detention-without—trial laws.

Thus, Kanu held the 1969 general elections as the only contesting party and barred any KPL sympathizers from contesting. Another poser that faced the Kenyatta government was the disappearance of freedom fighter, Kungu Karumba in June, 1974. Karumba, who was part of the Kapenguria Six, went missing in Uganda where he had gone on a business trip.

A year later, populist politician, Josiah Mwangi Kariuki was murdered. While the killers of JM were never found, a Select Parliamentary Committee had pointed fingers at senior government figures and security agents. None of these were investigated.

Social Development


Since independence in 1963, the Kenyatta government gave priority to improving health as a prerequisite to socio—economic development.

At independence, the Government promised free health care at all its facilities. It was, however, in 1965 that the Government formalized this promise with the abolition of user fees for people seeking care in public clinics. As a result, free outpatient services and hospitalization for all children in public health facilities was introduced. However, the World Bank forced the Government to reinstate these fees in 1989 as part of the controversial policy of structural adjustment.

One of the problems that faced the Kenyatta government was the small number of qualified personnel in the medical field. In 1967, the University of East Africa established a faculty of medicine at University College, Nairobi. By 1965, Kenya had 734 physicians, 26 dentists and 148 pharmacists.

In 1970, the Ministry of Health nationalized the health system and assumed responsibility for operating all public health facilities, a move that slowed down the mortality rate. The Kenyatta National Hospital was being expanded, having been turned to a referral and teaching hospital in 1963.

Over fifty per cent of rural hospitals and clinics fall under the ambit of the Church. The Church is also heavily involved in rural development programs that greatly augment efforts by the Government.

In such instances, the Church was seen as a partner with the government in helping to alleviate human suffering.

Public Transport System

Before Kenyatta issued a Presidential decree in 1973 that allowed privately run vans and mini-buses, which became popularly known as “matatus” to operate as public transport, the sector was dominated by a few transport companies, among them, Overseas Trading Company (OTC) and Kenya Bus Service (KBS). While the OTC dominated the upcountry routes and the KBS dominated both Nairobi and Mombasa, the other smaller towns were served by medium size bus companies owned by wealthy Africans and Asians. Matatus were treated as “pirate taxis” and were targets of frequent crack down by police and local authorities. While they played a significant role in moving people and goods, it was not until 1973 that their leaders had an audience with Kenyatta. He issued a decree that allowed them to compete with the bus companies by carrying fare ‘paying passengers and without obtaining Transport Licensing Board (TLB) and Public Transport (PSV) licenses. But, as the industry grew, it became necessary to regulate the matatus and for government to collect revenue from the service, prompting the requirement that they too obtain PSV licenses. Today, this sector has grown into a multi-billion—shilling industry.

Diplomacy and Foreign Policy

By the time Kenya gained her independence in 1963, several African countries were still fighting for their independence. The apartheid regime in South Africa was still clinging to Namibia (then South West Africa) while Portugal still held onto its African colonies of Angola and Mozambique.

Rhodesia and South Africa Crisis

When in May, 1965, Prime Minister Ian Smith of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) made a unilateral decision to declare it independent, Kenyatta made it clear that Kenya would not recognize the new state and led other East African leaders to impose sanctions on Rhodesia.

In a statement released in Nairobi, the Kenya government condemned Smith’s UDI and said it would not recognize an “illegal, racist regime in Southern Rhodesia”.

The statement continued: “The Kenya government wholeheartedly supports our African brothers in Southern Rhodesia and calls upon them to unite against the common enemy.”

In January, 1966, Kenyatta met British Prime Minister Harold Wilson as part of a high-level shuttle diplomacy and he announced that no airlines going to and from Rhodesia would be allowed to land in Kenya.

Kenya also tried to help land-locked Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia) by supplying the country with oil by air and road. However, both countries were opposed to military intervention to force Smith out.

The Government had also in 1963 banned all trade with South Africa and Portugal (which had refused to give up their African colonies). Dr. Julius Kiano, the Minister for Commerce, said: “All merchants dealing in South African and Portuguese goods are advised to dispose of such stocks at the earliest possible dates before Independence.”

On June 20, 1963 Kenyatta led a 20,000 strong demonstration against the jailing of African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela. Together with four Cabinet ministers, Kenyatta carried a White shrouded coffin, symbolizing South Africa’s apartheid policy, to a freshly dug grave at Shauri Moyo, Nairobi. There he buried the coffin. Mandela and seven colleagues were jailed for life on June 12, 1963, after they were found guilty of sabotage and of trying to topple South Africa’s white government by force.

Kenyatta said: “I want you to help the people in South Africa get independence too . . . our independence will be meaningless if our brothers are still in chains”.

He demanded that Boers living in Kenya also speak out against apartheid: “We have not heard a single Boer voice condemning his brothers in South Africa. Those who call themselves Kenyans should work with us. If they don’t want to, we’ll tell them to pack up and go.”

Resolving the Angolan Crisis

In January 1975, Kenyatta made a breakthrough when he brought together the three main rebel leaders in Angola – Agostinho Neto of the communist MPLA, Holden Roberto of the FNLA, and Unita’s Jonas Savimbi. The three rival freedom leaders signed a peace treaty in Mombasa mediated by Kenyatta, which paved the Way to Angola’s independence after five centuries of Portuguese domination.

The Angolan leaders hailed Kenyatta for the breakthrough.

“The venue for the talks could not have been better located,” said Savimbi. “We have been taking lese sons from Kenya’s freedom fighters since it was the first country to take up arms (sic) against a colonial power in Africa and, at the same time, showed us the Way to unity after independence.”

After the meeting, Roberto, Savimbi and Neto shook hands then embraced Kenyatta at the conclusion of three days of intensive talks.

It was the first agreement that the three had signed in 14 years of guerrilla warfare. What the Mombasa agreement meant was that Portugal — which was desperate to divest itself of its colonies after its own near bloodless coup in 1974 -had a group to whom it could grant independence. Before Kenyatta’s intervention, the Eastern bloc had backed Neto while the Western bloc had supported Roberto and Savimbi.

Kenyatta reminded the three that Western powers were using “the favorite imperial game of divide and rule” in Angola.

Ten days after the Mombasa agreement, the three leaders met with the new Portuguese government and signed the Alvor Agreement which granted Angola’s Independence on 11 November, 1975.

But civil war broke out after the elections and Kenyatta was again asked by the OAU to summon the trio. They agreed to respect the Alvor Agreement but this failed to stop the slide of Angola into civil war, which was blamed on Portugal’s failure to help maintain internal security in the young nation, allowing a scramble for power to take place.

Keeping the Peace with Uganda

In 1971, Ugandan President Milton Obote was overthrown by his army commander, Idi Amin. While Obote fled into exile in neighboring Tanzania, the relations between Amin and the East African leaders (Kenyatta and Julius Nyerere) was shaky. Nyerere refused to recognize Amin as a Head of State While Kenyatta ignored him. But Amin continued to provoke Kenya by constantly targeting Kenyan students and businessmen in Uganda for harassment.

In 1976, Amin started building up troops at the Kenya border, ordered its closure and announced a trade boycott on Kenya products. In February, 1976, Amin had joined Somalia in making claims on Kenya’s territory, saying Uganda’s border with Kenya was at Naivasha. Kenya had also refused to supply land—locked Uganda with any more fuel until it paid its bills. Uganda retaliated by cuttings its electricity supply to Kenya.

As tensions rose, Amin committed a major diplomatic blunder in July 1976 when an Air France jet-liner was hijacked by terrorists and flown to Entebbe Airport. Amin sided with the Palestinian hijackers, forcing Israel to stage a commando raid on Entebbe, which succeeded in freeing the hostages, killing the hijackers and 20 Ugandan soldiers; the commandos destroyed a third of the Ugandan air force.

The fact that Israeli planes carrying freed hostages after the Entebbe raid refueled in Nairobi, brought the two countries as close to war as they have ever been. Kenyatta did not take that lightly and in a public rally in Uhuru Park, he warned Amin, Who Was then chairman of the Organization of African Unity: “We Kenyans shall defend our country with all our blood and we shall teach a lesson never to be forgotten to anyone who tries to play with our country and Government.”

After three days of intense negotiation, a peace formula was finalized by Organization of African Unity Secretary— General William Eteki. The two presidents signed it. Amin agreed to withdraw his troops from the border areas.

The Non-Aligned Movement

Kenyatta pursued a policy of non-alignment — and non-interference in internal affairs of other nations. This helped him secure Kenya from any threats by the Western and Eastern blocs that were competing for space in many African nations. By adopting a non-aligned policy, Kenyatta showed that Kenya was a sovereign nation and capable of determining its economic and political interests with little regard for the East and Western bloc politics.

However, Kenyatta slid more towards Western interests, although his supporters did not see this as a contradiction to his non-alignment policy. Actually, although Kenya hi good rapport with Western diplomats and embassies in Nairobi, Kenyatta would say: “We rejected both Western capitalism and Eastern communism and chose for ourselves a policy of positive non-alignment”.

Kenya, however, broke diplomatic ties with China in 1966 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, accusing the two nations of interfering in Kenya’s internal affairs.

For Kenyatta, in the foreign policy, economic self-interest was as crucial as territorial integrity and internal security.

Regional Integration

The East African Community

In December, 1967, Kenyatta met with the two East African Presidents, Julius Nyerere and Milton Obote, to launch the East African Community, the precursor to the current regional body.

Although the original EAC collapsed in 1977, Kenyatta, Nyerere and Obote are credited with laying the political foundation of the current East African Community.

Kenyatta, more than Obote and Nyerere, advocated the sharing of resources and knocking down of trade barriers since Kenya had more developed industries than the two. He reasoned that Kenya would gain economically and expand its industries by reaching a market with close to 27 million people at the time.

The East African Treaty of Cooperation had far—reaching proposals that advocated for a regional common market, enhanced economic cooperation, higher education ties and shared development plans. It also shared services such as post and telecommunications and railway network.

The 1967 EAC was a major test for regional cooperation in the emerging states and is today hailed as the root of other regional bodies, such as COMESA (the Common Markets of Eastern and Southern Africa).

The then OAU Secretary-General, Diallo Telli, commended the organization, saying the experiment would be an inspiring example to the whole continent.

With the leadership rotating between the three leaders and a headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania the EAC, however, faced ideological difficulties as Tanzania started pulling towards a socialist state and Uganda’s Obote was deposed by Idi Amin in January, 1971. In 1977, the EAC collapsed after Amin pulled out blaming Nyerere of failing to recognize him. But the experiment gave the three nations the necessary building blocks for the current EAC, an intergovernmental organization that now encompasses Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and, a likely new member, South Sudan.

Surviving the EAC Collapse

The British had developed the three colonies separately but with shared services that had been run for several decades. They were all connected with a railway network under the East African Railways and Harbours.

To continue with this cooperation after independence, an East African Common Services Organization had been launched in 1961 to enhance the shared administration. But it faced its first handicap, especially on the administration of finances and contribution of each country. The East African Community also shared a common currency — the East African shilling, which was also legal tender in Southern Arabia and Gulf of Aden countries.

But in June, 1965, Tanzania threw the East African nations into a monetary crisis when it announced it would withdraw from the East African Currency Board (EACB), which had been in place since 1919 and had shielded the shilling from other currencies.

With the departure of Tanzania from the EACB — and the devaluation of its currency —the East African shilling collapsed and the three separate nations issued their own currencies.

Kenya launched its own currency on September 14, 1966, While Uganda had launched its currency on August 15, 1966. Both countries also agreed to devalue their shilling to be at par with Tanzania.

That Tanzania bureaucrats had devalued the shilling without consulting their neighbors sowed seeds of suspicion.

By the time the three Presidents signed the East African Community treaty in December, 1967, there was still bitterness over the collapse of the East African Currency Board, a body which had for years stabilized the East African shilling to be at par with the British pound. Also, with the emergence of three Central Banks, one of the strongest pillars of unity had gone.

In August, 1977, Nyerere ordered the EAC to close its headquarters in Arusha, sounding the death knell on the l0-year old EAC. Kenya had to build new institutions and see them running.

In August 1976, the East African Railways Corporation (EARC) was wound up, ending what had become the engine of the economic union. Kenya launched its own

Kenya Railways Corporation.

In 1977, the East African Airways buckled under the weight of bickering bureaucrats, nationalistic interference, corruption and nepotism—led incompetence.

In the ensuing tension, Tanzania closed its border with Kenya in February, 1977. But Kenya survived this trade nightmare.

Kenya launched its own National carrier, Kenya Airways, which made its inaugural flight from Nairobi to Asia on the morning of February 4, 1977.

Infrastructural Development


Kenya had in 1963 inherited an antiquated telephone system run by the regional East African Post and Telecommunications Corporation (EAPTC) which operated until 1977, when the East African Community collapsed. But in November 1970, Kenyatta opened the Longonot Satellite Station, giving the nation an edge over the others.

The East African Airways, Harbours, Railways and Posts and Telecommunications corporations were provided for by Article 71 of the 1967 Treaty for East African Cooperation as institutions of the Community,

By 1963, there were 240 postal facilities in Kenya, a ratio of one for every 36,000 people. It was after the commissioning of the Longonot facility that the number of subscribers started increasing and Kenya stopped using the high frequency radio system, which was time-consuming, especially when communicating internationally. This had a notable effect on the economy. Longonot was capable of carrying 600 telephone channels in each direction.

Tourism and Hotel Development

When Kenyatta opened the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, in September, 1973, he gave conference tourism a ray of hope. In his inaugural speech, Kenyatta explained the significance of the building with its 4,000~seat plenary hall. He said: “It is my hope and conviction that many decisions of importance and benefit to mankind will be made under this roof.” The hall has hosted many important international events and has become a national treasure 4 often used to market Nairobi City abroad and Kenya as a destination.

Designed by a Norwegian architect, Karl Henrik Nostvik, the building was initially designed as the Kanu headquarters but the Government decided to build a conference center. For many years, the KICC was the tallest building in Nairobi with 24 floors of office space.

Another institution built during Kenyatta’s time to support tourism was the Kenya Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC). Although KTDC Was established on November, 1965, it began operations in 1966 and one of its aims was to help develop tourism facilities and indigenize the sector. The source of funding investment activities by the KTDC was the Government through annual budgetary allocations under the vote of the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. The Government guided the KTDC to undertake development projects aimed at opening up remote areas to tourism.

Previously, this sector was in the hands of foreigners and the KTDC was mandated to help Kenyans enter the sector as investors. It was also to help improve and expand any new or existing tourist facilities. To support this growth, the Kenyatta government formulated Sessional Paper No.8 of 1969 on the Development of Tourism in Kenya, which defined the growth targets that it hoped to achieve in the years ahead as well as outline the areas where the Government would participate jointly with private investors in developing the tourist industry.

This policy outlined the type of tourism to be encouraged; protection and development of tourist attractions; protection and development of tourist infrastructure and superstructure as well as other tourist facilities; training and man-power development for the sector; promotion and marketing in the tourist generating markets; and research.

Another institution founded to support tourism was the Bomas of Kenya — a tourist village and conference center at Langata, Nairobi. Established by the Government in 1971 as a subsidiary company of the KTDC, this was a cultural tourist attraction.

Its aim has been to preserve, maintain and promote rich and diverse cultural values of various ethnic groups. The complex also contains one of the biggest theatre in Africa, with 3,500 seats.

Traditional dances from a variety of Kenya’s communities perform here every day. The venue can also be used as a conference facility. To support this industry, the Kenyatta government started the Utalii College in 1975 to train a qualified human resource base for the hospitality and tourism sector. To date, it has trained over 25,000 students. To also promote tourism and conserve wildlife, the Kenyatta government banned game hunting in 1973. Declaring the ban. Kenyatta said: “The Government will deal with culprits without mercy to ensure that Kenya’s wildlife is not endangered.”

The number of elephants shot in 1973 under license failed to match the ivory export figures declared. For instance, the initial official export figures of ivory in the past five months of 1973 alone amounted to 150,000kg, showing that at least 500 elephants were killed each month.

Kenyatta also commissioned the building of a new airport in Nairobi — the £30 million circular complex was funded by the World Bank and the Government.

While the building of the complex had been on the drawing board since 1972, its opening in 1979, a few months after Kenyatta’s death, was a big boost for Kenya’s aviation industry.

Previously known as Nairobi International Airport, it was renamed Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after it Was opened to cater for the increasing number of people Who were coming to Kenya and stretching the facilities at Wilson Airport at Nairobi West.

United Nations in Nairobi

The establishment in 1973 of a United Nations (UN) agency head-quarters in Nairobi was one of the single largest achievement during Kenyatta’s era.

It was Dr Odero Jowi who was instrumental in winning for Kenya the United Nations Environment Program (Unep) headquarters, to be located in Nairobi after he was appointed by President Kenyatta as Kenya’s permanent representative to the UN, in 1969.

Others involved in the setting up of Unep were Foreign Minister Njoroge Mungai, Dawson Mramba (the Permanent Secretary) and a diplomat, Donald Kaniaru, who was second secretary at Kenya’s UN mission in New York during the campaign to bring Unep to Nairobi. Kaniaru is widely remembered for shouting down a diplomat who had remarked: “Nairobi is too far!” and Kaniaru retorted: “Too far from where?”

The only such headquarter in the developing World, the Unep has made Nairobi a world center, attracting environmentalists from across the globe and supported in the initial establishment period by being housed at the KICC as promised by Kenyatta. Unep was also given land to build its current head-quarters at Gigiri, Nairobi, which emerged later as an affluent suburb of Nairobi.

Unep’s mission is to provide leadership and it encourages private partnerships in caring for the environment. It also enables nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

The Unep secretariat is headed by an executive director elected by the UN General Assembly for a four year term, upon the recommendation of the Secretary-General Unep’s professional staff has grown to around 250. Besides its Nairobi headquarters, Unep maintains regional offices in Africa, Europe, Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, the Caribbean and North America.

Constitutional Changes

Various constitutional changes were witnessed between 1963 and 1978, largely justified by the need to tailor the independence constitution to a stable and unified country.

The changes were to reflect the political, constitutional, economic and social aspirations of Kenyans. There were 12 constitutional amendments during President Kenyatta’s tenure in 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, and 1975.

1964 Restructuring Amendment

The First Amendment to the Constitution changed the structure of the Lancaster Constitution in several ways. First, it made Kenya a Republic. Second, the President became both Head of State and Government. Third, it established the Office of the Vice-President to be appointed by the President.

Finally, the amendment withdrew all, except the special, powers of the Regional Assemblies by amending the First Schedule to the Independence Constitution. The strengthening of the Office of the President was designed to entrust one institution, the Presidency, with the authority to unify the country.

The Second Amendment changed Chapter 10 of the Independence Constitution dealing with the Judiciary. In the Lancaster document, the President could not appoint the Chief Justice without consulting the Regional Assemblies or Judges without consulting the Judicial Service Commission (J SC). Second, the amendment transferred the power to alter regional boundaries from the Regional Assemblies to Parliament. Third, it repealed the powers of the Regional Assemblies to independent revenue collection.

Fourth, it permitted delegation of the authority of the regions to bodies other than the region. Fifth, the designation of the regional heads was changed from “President” to “Chairman” to avoid nominal conflict with the national President. The term President would now exclusively refer to the Head of State and Government, hence the actual and symbolic significance in power relations.

Consolidating Executive Powers

The Third Amendment in 1965 abolished the Regional Government structure altogether. These regions were now called “Provinces” and their assemblies called “Councils.”

The provinces were placed under the administration or governance of the Provincial Commissioner answerable to the Minister in the Office of the President in charge of Provincial Administration and the President. The regions had power to generate their own revenue and use it within the region.

Furthermore, the amendment changed the constitutional procedure. The amendment did away with the executive powers of the regions. It also changed the percentage necessary to change the Constitution from the original 90 in the Senate and 75 in the Lower House to 65 per cent in both Houses (as in section 47 of the Constitution). The effect of the amendment was to make the Constitution very easy to amend.

Weakening Parliament

The 1966 Fourth amendment provided that any Member of Parliament who, without the Speaker’s permission, absented himself from the National Assembly for eight consecutive sittings or was sentenced to a term of imprisonment exceeding six months, automatically lost his seat. This amendment gave the President the power to constitute and abolish offices in the service of the Republic, and to appoint or dismiss the holders of such offices. Public officers served at the pleasure of the President.

The amendment gave the President emergency powers to rule by decree in certain regions, which included Marsabit, Isiolo, Tana River and Lamu, in addition to the North Eastern Province (NEP), to ensure that any unrest or potential unrest was addressed efficiently.

The Fifth Amendment required the MPs who had resigned from Kanu to join KPU to seek a fresh mandate from the electorate in a by—election. The amendment required that an MP who resigned from the party that had supported him at the time of election, at a time when the party was a parliamentary party, should vacate his seat at the expiration of the session. Following the Little General Election of 1966, the Standing Orders of Parliament were amended to provide that an opposition party was only recognized if it had at least 30 MPs.

The Sixth Amendment was enacted to expand the emergency powers of the President to act whenever the President considered the security of the State was threatened. This amendment was enhanced by the Preservation of Public Security Act as well as the sedition and subversion laws under the Penal Code. The amendment introduced detention without trial.

The Seventh Amendment was introduced in December, 1966, to abolish the remains of regionalism and dual legislative system.

This amendment amalgamated the Upper with the Lower Houses of the National Assembly by effectively abolishing the Senate.

The amendment created 41 new parliamentary seats to accommodate the ex-Senators. It extended the term of the Parliament, which should have expired in June, 1968, to June, 1970. The twelve specially elected members of the House of Representatives became specially elected members of the new Parliament.

The impact of the amendment was that the minorities, including the ethnic and economically underprivileged groups, earlier represented in the Senate, would no longer secure such protection or priority.

The 1968 centralization The Eighth Amendment clarified the intentions of the Fifth Amendment by making them retrospective. It provided thus:

“It is hereby declared that, for the removal of doubt that the references in paragraph (a) and (b) of section 42A (1) of the Constitution to a member who in certain circumstances resigns from a party at a time when that party is a parliamentary party, include and have always included reference to a member Who, before the commencement of the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No. 2, 1966, resigned in those circumstances and accordingly shall be taken to have been duly vacated at the expiration of the session during which he has resigned. ”

The Ninth Amendment abolished the quasi-federal structure by eliminating the provincial councils.

It repealed all laws of the regional assemblies, and deleted all references to the provincial and district boundaries and their alteration. This amendment thus marked the death of regionalism and devolution that began with various constitutional changes.

Another amendment required the President to be at least 40 years old. Parliament would no longer act as an electoral college. The Vice- President would act for no more than 90 days.

Introducing Succession Clauses

The 10th Amendment of 1969 introduced the election of the President through the General Election by the national electorate. Moreover, all the candidates would be nominated and sponsored by a political party. In addition, it provided that every political party participating in the General Election have to nominate a presidential candidate.

Furthermore, the tenth amendment provided that if the Office of the President became vacant other than by reason of dissolution of Parliament, an election would be held within 90 days, during which the Vice—President would act, but with the requirement of Cabinet resolution in certain matters, such as preservation of public security and appointment and dismissal of ministers and assistants. The amendment also introduced positions for 12 nominated Members of Parliament, to be nominated by the President, replacing the 12 specially elected members of the House of Representatives.

The amendment changed the structure of the independence Constitution. Prior to this amendment, the Constitution was contained in twelve different documents. This amendment restructured the Constitution into one document.

Change of Age of Majority

The 11th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years. This was undertaken despite the similar provision in the Age of Majority Act. It raised the question as to why a constitutional intervention was necessary in a matter that was effectively provided for in an ordinary statute. In addition, there was the amendment introducing the official language as Kiswahili. A further amendment introduced the second official language in 1975 as English.

Pardoning election offenders The 12th Amendment in 1975 gave the President the power to pardon election offenders under the National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act and the Elections Offences Act.

Change-the-Constitution Movement

Between 1975 and 1977, a Change the Constitution movement attempted to amend Act No. 45 of the Constitution to bar the Vice-President from automatically succeeding the President in the event of incapacitation or death.

The move, however, failed and when Kenyatta died in August, 1978, the succession took place under the old rules with Vice—President Daniel T. arap Moi assuming the office.

President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta
President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta

President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta – Video