Down memory lane

By James Macharia

Charles Njonjo, An immaculate three-piece, pin-stripped suit with a thick tie and rose pin. This is what being Charles Njonjo meant. An iconic look from an iconic man.

Charles Njonjo was born on January 23,1920 in Kabete, Kiambu county and on January 23,2021,he turned 101 years.

Charles Njonjo studied further at Grays Inn, London after completing his studies in Kenya and South Africa. Serving under Kenya’s first President, Jomo Kenyatta,Njonjo acquired leadership skills and for long, he has been a formidable force to reckon with.
He acquired latent powers and even succeeded to convince President Kenyatta to appoint Daniel Moi as his Vice President, after the Kenyatta’s fallout with Joseph Murumbi. Murumbi was the Vice President and after a disagreement with Kenyatta, he resigned in 1966.

This happened when Njonjo once shared a ride in President Kenyatta’s limousine from Rift valley.
Charles Njonjo was famous for his stripped suits that he states he buys only in London, worn with his signature,red rosebud in his lapel.


Njonjo sat in the Kenya’s first 15-member Cabinet as the first Attorney General from 1963 to 1973.
It’s the death of President Jomo Kenyatta in 1978,that saw Njonjo on the driver’s seat,as the Attorney General, where he ensured a silent and sedate transition of power.
President Daniel Moi took the charge as the second Head of State.

He was not referred to as “The Duke of Kabeteshire” for nothing. Njonjo was the invisible hand which had things happen with the ‘press of a button.’


His fluency and mannerism in English,yet again, accorded him the word ‘Sir’ at the beginning of his name. And he was ‘Sir Charles.’


Under his governorship as AG, he also had Burudi Nabwera appointed as Kenyan Ambassador in America.
James Orengo, now Siaya senator remembers Charles Njonjo as a skilled political skimmer.

Being a son of Senior Chief Josiah Njonjo in 1920 in a family of 8,Njonjo’s life was and still is characterized by affluence of power.

In an interview with Jeff Koinange in 2012,he advises Koinange to go and study in Savile Row,London to attain the quintessential gentlemanly look.


Njonjo was the epitome of discipline and paid attention to even finer details and is said to have had the ear of president Jomo Kenyatta.

What many don’t know about him,Njonjo married a British woman, Margaret Bryson,when he was 52.When asked why that late, Njonjo says that he served long hours in office and his commitment at work won’t be to the interests of her lady.


He met her at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi.

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