Kenya's first independence Attorney General, Charles Njonjo is dead. The news of his passing was announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In this article, we remember the life and times of Mr. Njonjo. Let's begin;
Charles Njonjo, the 'Duke of Kabeteshire' was a formidable, powerful figure in Kenyan history and especially the Independence era when he wielded enormous influence.
He was famous for his eloquence, English mannerisms, and fondness for English culture, so fond that he earned the informal, and not entirely complimentary title 'Sir' Charles.
The former AG was famous for the pin-striped suits that he used to buy only in London, worn with his signature red rosebud in his lapel.
Njonjo had the ear of founding President Jomo Kenyatta and rode in his limousine. This was ostensibly because he wanted to ensure the government provided quality services to its citizens, which he said Mzee wanted.
Njonjo was instrumental in elevating Daniel Moi to vice president after Josphat Murumbi resigned in 1967. He and Moi fell out in 1983, however when Moi accused him of plotting to overthrow the government.
A son of Senior Chief Josiah Njonjo in 1920 in a family of eight, Njonjo’s life was always characterised by affluence and power.
So privileged was the former AG and so charmed were his early years, that Njonjo ate ugali for the first time after joining Alliance High School.
In those days Njonjo rode a horse to school — at that time horses were the equine preserve of royalty — after weekend breaks.
At Alliance, he and other boys stood barefoot in assembly as they raised the Union Jack. They wore only khaki shirts and shorts at Alliance.
He dreaded the standard cold showers and the deprivation of meat every day that he enjoyed at home. It was served only twice a week at Alliance.
If life at Alliance was hard, Njonjo would later endure long trips on a congested train coach to get to Fort Hare University, South Africa.
This was at the height of apartheid and natives (blacks) were restricted to one uncomfortable coach, some filled with the stench of sweat and chicken poop.
The man who later became Kenya's AG endured the extremes of apartheid, carrying with him memories of how he would be barred from dining halls.
On streets, in train stations, and at train stops, blacks could not cross a white man or woman's path.
Njonjo went to Kings College-Budo in Uganda in 1939 for a two-year pre-university course before he proceeded to the South African university.
He spent three years at Fort Hare and later moved to the UK for further studies, attending Exeter University and later the London School of Economics until 1950.
On his return to Kenya in 1954, Njonjo began his carer in the justice system when the colonial government hired him as a High Court registrar.
He was promoted to Registrar General and later moved to the AG’s office as Senior Crown Counsel.
In 1962, Njonjo was promoted to Deputy Public Prosecutor — a step away from the Attorney General's post, which he occupied after Jomo Kenyatta took over.
This would propel him to become an ex-officio Member of Parliament as Kabete MP and earned him a seat in the Cabinet.
The late Njonjo said he took his work so seriously that he married late, at age 52 he married a British woman.
His downfall was engineered by President Moi who saw him as a threat. Previously he used to supply suitcases full of Savile Row suits to Moi.
May the late Njonjo's soul rest in peace.