Just like Kibaki, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta had no time for women in power; he had a masculine cabinet till his demise as President

Founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta

Uhuru’s father, founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, had no time for women in power. His presidency from independence in 1963 to the time he died 15 years later on August 20, 1978, was defined by a masculine Cabinet.

Jomo had no woman minister or assistant minister for anything. But he had women at Harambee House where his offices were on second floor to avoid using the lift. There, he had Ruth Stutts Njiri as his secretary, sorting mail and appointments.

Ruth served as secretary alongside Jemimah Gecaga, the grandma of Jomo Gecaga, currently the personal assistant to Uhuru Kenyatta, Jomo’s cousin.

At State House Nairobi, the Kenyattas had their social secretary in Mumbi Madoka, wife of Jomo’s aide de camp, Rtd Major Marsden Madoka who later became MP for Mwatate.

Mumbi, Kenya’s Miss Uhuru, was detailed  to assist Mama Ngina with social duties including taking young Uhuru to Lady Northey Nursery School along State House Road.

While leading women personalities like Muringo Kiereini went on to be appointed as Kenya’s fist Chief Nursing Officer, women had no substantial bearing on the leadership of President Kenyatta.

Kenya’s second President, retired Mzee Daniel arap Moi broke the rule when he appointed Lady Justice Effie Owuor as Kenya’s first woman High Court Judge in 1981 and 14 years later, appointed Nyiva Mwendwa to the Cabinet, the first woman minister since independence when she took the Culture and Social Affairs docket.

Dr Sally Kosgey, later MP for Aldai, also became the first woman Secretary to the Cabinet in the Moi government. Women generally, moved little major tectonic plates in his presidency as he preferred the counsel of his masculine kitchen Cabinet and trusted old hands including Mulu Mutisya, Ezekiel Barg’etuny, Philemon Chelagat, Kariuki Chotara, Wilson Leitich, William Lasoi, Stephen Michoma and Shariff Nassir.

The third president, Mwai Kibaki, appeared politically besieged and socially suffocated by his wife, the late Lucy Kibaki, but he had fierce defenders in Martha Karua, now gunning for the governor’s seat in Kirinyaga.

Then there was his daughter, Judy Kibaki, but women, like in his predecessor’s reign, had little in the way of over-arching levers around a relatively masculine presidency starring old golf mates, Makerere University collegemates and his Mang’u alumni schoolmates.


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