Here are four brief interesting stories from Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya and Daniel T. arap Moi’s Kenya:
Bernard Hinga was Independent Kenya’s first Black Commissioner of Police, and was quite a guy, friendly yet distant, amiable yet unapproachable. He owned a classy elite British made car known as a Jaguar XJS, not owned by many in the Kenya of Hinga’s time. Chris Kahara, Managing Director of the Kenya Pipeline Company in Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya and Daniel T. arap Moi’s Kenya also owned a Jaguar XJS, and it later years, Eliud Mahihu, a Provincial Commissioner in Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya and Daniel T. arap Moi’s Kenya, also owned a really classy metallic green Jaguar XJS. Jaguars are actually in the league of Rolls-Royces, and still ahead of their time.
And then Hinga was also quite the ladies man with sophisticated tastes, including the music he listened to e.g. Jazz and the Blues, by leading overseas music artistes of past decades such Duke Ellington, Bennie Goodman, Sam Cooke, Charles Brown and Brook Benton.
Hinga did not despise local Kenyan music and local Kenyan musicians, which he also had collections of, he just had diverse music tastes. His local Kenyan girlfriends did not however have time for Hinga’s sophisticated foreign music tastes and always insisted on local Kenyan music being played in Hinga’s XJS whenever they were with him.
Boys will be boys, men will be men, girls will be girls and women will be women. One of Hinga’s more sophisticated lovers in the 1960s and 1970s was a stunning beauty, a Kikuyu lady, who lived in an apartment in Westlands, Nairobi, in the days very few Black Kenyans lived in apartments in Westlands, Nairobi, in the days when Westlands was almost an exclusive neighbourhood for Kenyan Asians and White Expatriates.
She was hot and remained so right to the time she passed away in later years at an advanced age, and Hinga back then, shared her with other powerful and wealthy Black Kenyans of Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya, such as a one time Town Clerk of the City of Nairobi, from a prominent and wealthy Kenyan family, who like Hinga, was a ladies man e.g. the said one time Town Clerk owned an expansive property on the outskirts of Nairobi where he kept and owned horses, and one time his wife found him having sex with the maid in one of the horse enclosures (called barns), and his reaction was to tell his wife in Kikuyu, that yes he had been busted in a way that he could not possibly deny, but nevertheless asked his wife for “permission” to let them finish, because they were just about to “climax” before they were caught. Are any of us going to Heaven, really? It is unclear what the wife’s reaction or response was.
Hinga’s wife was a jolly lady who unfortunately suffered frequent bouts of depression. Hinga’s wife was a down-to-earth woman, who like Hinga’s girlfriends, did not not have time for Hinga’s sophisticated foreign music tastes.
Hinga’s wife really loved a Nairobi down town bar of those times called “Kilimambogo,” on Nairobi’s Tom Mboya Street, that used to be situated in a building that was pulled down to make way for Afya Centre on Tom Mboya Street and where it now stands.
“Kilimambogo” was a homely bar, with a rural feel and a rural atmosphere, dearly loved by many Kikuyus from Muranga County (then Muranga District), who had jobs or did business in the City of Nairobi i.e. it really gave them solace and really made them feel at home.
Now Hinga’s wife was another one, a mad one. She frequented “Kilimambogo” incognito back then, freely blending with customers, customers who were not aware that she was the wife of the Commissioner of Police.
When Hinga’s wife got drunk, she would sneak to a dark corner near the entrance of the “Kilimambogo” male washrooms and lay in wait for “prey” i.e. whenever she spotted a man going to the male washrooms, she would pounce out of her “dark corner” with her skirt or dress lifted high up in the sky, telling her “prey” in Kikuyu to “Make love to me, make love to me now quickly, before we are caught!”
Hinga’s wife would then laugh in delight as her “prey” quite literally took off in shock, saying there was a “mad woman” near the entrance of the male washrooms.
Staff at “Kilimambogo” knew fully well who Hinga’s wife was and who her husband was, and it was they who got the greatest kick out of the stunt that Hinga’s wife loved pulling at the entrance of the “Kilimambogo” male washrooms. Her depression attacks however got the better of her and she passed away in later years.
Bernard Hinga himself survived as Commissioner of Police throughout Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya. Hinga and then Kenyan Attorney-General Charles Njonjo did not however get along, and it was many a time in Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya that Hinga bravely stood up to Njonjo and/or defied him, to the point that Njonjo more than once reported Hinga to President Jomo Kenyatta, with Hinga still standing up to Njonjo in Jomo Kenyatta’s presence, and Hinga making statements like,
“Sir, I was guided by the law in full in my handling of the matter and I will not therefore be deterred or be intimidated by the Attorney-General.”
Hinga did not have a high opinion or high regard for Charles Njonjo.
Mzee Jomo Kenyatta passed away on 22nd August 1978, and Mzee Daniel T. arap Moi was formally sworn in as Kenya’s second President, with full executive powers and full executive authority, on 14th October 1978.
Daniel T. arap Moi and Charles Njonjo were the best of buddies back then, Hinga was fully aware of this, and Hinga did not wait a minute longer than he had to i.e. the moment D.T. arap Moi was sworn in as Kenya’s second President on 14th October 1978, Hinga, without any prompting, began packing his personal belongings at his office i.e. the Office of the Commissioner of Police of the Republic of Kenya. Hinga was soon thereafter replaced as Police Commissioner by Ben Gethi.
Kenya’s iconic music band “Them Mushrooms,” was made of guys from Kenya’s Coast, and they have their place in Kenyan History and Global History. Yes Kenyan History because of music hits of the 1980s like “Akumu ber, nyar Kisumu,” and “Nyambura nakupenda like fish and chips,” plus their re-enactments of older Kenyan music hits from the 1950s and 1960s like George Mukabi’s “Mtoto si nguo,” and yes Global History, because of their 1983 hit single “Jambo Bwana – Hakuna Matata” which has since 1983 been redone and further immortalised by overseas music artistes like “Boney M,” and the 1994 hit movie “The Lion King” that launched and immortalised the Kiswahili line and phrase “Hakuna Matata” i.e. “No stress, no hustle.”
Fadhili William’s iconic “Malaika” and “Them Mushrooms'” “Jambo Bwana – Hakuna Matata” are two songs that qualify to become Kenya’s second National Anthem.
“Malaika” however, by every and all indications, jointly belongs to Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania i.e. “Malaika” has the joint input, and was jointly composed by Kenyan and Tanzanian music artistes, and is not the sole brainchild of Kenya’s Fadhili William.
Which leaves “Jambo Bwana – Hakuna Matata.”
Music and creativity are not static, and in the years ahead will emerge other iconic music compositions and music productions in the league of “Jambo Bwana – Hakuna Matata,” “Pole Musa,” “Taxi Driver,” “Mtoto si nguo,” “Malaika,” “Dereva Kombo” and “Mlofa Mmoja,” but as things currently stand, “Jambo Bwana – Hakuna Matata” by “Them Mushrooms,” is the leading contender for and as Kenya’s second National Anthem.
Long live “Jambo Bwana – Hakuna Matata,” Long live “Them Mushrooms,” Long live Kenya.
Jomo Kenyatta, Doctors from Europe, a proposed heart transplant, and Jomo Kenyatta’s last Aide-de-Camp (ADC), Col. Samuel Macharia:
Jomo Kenyatta had a heart problem, which is one of the reasons Jomo loved spending big amounts of time at the Kenyan Coast i.e. zero metres above sea level which is good for people with heart problems.
A team of Doctors from Europe once visited Jomo Kenyatta proposing that he have a heart transplant. Jomo knew in his heart that he was not going to have a heart transplant or agree to one, but nevertheless granted an audience to the team of Doctors from Europe.
At one point, Jomo even asked where “a spare heart” would come from anyway, and one of the Doctors mentioned “a young donor.” “Really?,” Jomo responded.
Jomo then paused and slowly turned around and looked hard & long at his Aide-de-Camp (ADC) Col. Samuel Macharia who was standing behind him. It is said that Col. Macharia had a look of anxiety on his face, before Jomo laughed and said in Kiswahili “Wacha kuogopa wewe Macharia” i.e. “Stop panicking Col. Macharia.”
Isaiah Mathenge was an all powerful Coast Province and Rift Valley Province Provincial Commissioner in Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya. Mathenge also served as a Member of Parliament for Nyeri Town from 1992 to 1997 in Daniel T. arap Moi’s Kenya.
During Isaiah Mathenge’s tenure as Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner, the Rift Valley Provincial Police Officer (PPO) was also an all powerful individual known as James Mungai, who is still alive.
Mathenge and Mungai never liked each other and never got along, and used any opportunity to get at each other. For example, one Sunday morning back then in Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya in Nakuru Town, the Headquarters then of Rift Valley Province, Mathenge’s wife was out on a drive in the official Mercedes Benz of the Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner.
Mungai stopped Mathenge’s official Mercedes Benz and asked the driver if he had an official work ticket/work permit to be out driving a Kenya Government vehicle on a Sunday. The driver answered in the negative and Mungai immediately impounded Mathenge’s official Mercedes Benz for a work violation.
Isaiah Mathenge was livid and enraged when told about this and the legend goes Mathenge picked up his gun and a few trusted aides and immediately went out looking for Mungai. Not even his wife could stop him.
Mungai knowing fully well that he had started “World War III” took cover in an undisclosed location for the coming few days. An enraged Mathenge, accompanied by his trusted aides, spent the whole Sunday looking for Mungai in the whole of Nakuru Town to no avail. It is unclear how Mathenge and Mungai eventually “resolved” the matter, but it is likely that Mungai quickly escalated the matter to his benefactors, including then all-powerful Minister of State Mbiyu Koinange, likely resulting in the issuance of an immediate “high priority” general Kenya Government circular on the lines of:
“We note with grave concern that certain Kenya Government vehicles continue to be used on Sundays without proper authorisation, and wish to emphasise in the strongest terms possible that stern disciplinary action will be taken against any and all transgressors of this rule,”
a veiled warning from one Jomo Kenyatta era cabal to another, a veiled warning to Mathenge that Mungai had the upper hand in the matter.
Mungai himself was quite the showman and the legend goes that the streets of Nakuru would regularly be cleared on Sundays for Mungai and his family to ride by on horses.
The legend also goes that Mathenge and Mungai once came to blows at State House Nakuru in the presence of President Jomo Kenyatta. Vice-President Daniel T. arap Moi shielded President Jomo Kenyatta during the exchange of blows, though the legend further goes that President Jomo Kenyatta, in addition to being shielded by Vice-President Daniel T. arap Moi, reached for his ceremonial sword as extra protection from Mathenge and Mungai.
Ceremonial sword…? Ceremonial sword of the Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Armed Forces that would be. President Jomo Kenyatta only wore the official regalia of the Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Armed Forces once i.e. Jamhuri Day 1971 i.e. 12th December 1971. Did President Jomo Kenyatta, still in the official regalia of the Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Armed Forces, drive to State House Nakuru after the official celebrations were marked in Nairobi, at which point i.e. in Nakuru, Mathenge and Mungai came to blows in his presence, or did President Jomo Kenyatta always have a ceremonial sword of the Commander-in-Chief by his side at his official and private residences?
Isaiah Mathenge remained a renegade to the very end.
In Daniel T. arap Moi’s Kenya, it was customary for an individual to stand up, if his or her name was mentioned at a public gathering by President Moi. At a public function in Nyeri, Kenya, in 1988, President Moi mentioned Isaiah Mathenge by name, and a defiant Mathenge remained seated. Voice of Kenya Television footage indeed shows Mathenge remaining seated with a defiant expression on his face.
Around the year 2002, when this writer work for Barclays in Kenya, this writer answered a telephone call from Isaiah Mathenge and Mathenge flamboyantly introduced himself as “the famous Isaiah Mathenge.”
“Does the name Isaiah Mathenge ring a bell to you?” This writer laughed and answered “Yes Sir, the name Isaiah Mathenge rings a bell to me.” Mathenge then laughed and proceeded to explain why he was calling.
Let’s preserve as much Kenyan History as we can e.g. the four above stories.