Charles Mugane Njonjo – profile

EXPLAINERS |
Mr Charles Njonjo (left) with his father, Senior Chief Josiah Njonjo of Kiambu, on May 6, 1956. [Kenya Yeabook]
  • Born in 1920 to Josiah Njonjo, a colonial chief

Education:

  • Received his early education in Kenya (Alliance High School) and Uganda (King’s College Budo)
  • 1946: Completed his law degree at Fort Hare University in South Africa and proceeded to attend Exeter University London School
  • 1954: Called to the bar at Gray’s Inn

Employment

  • 1955: Assistant Registrar in the Office of the Registrar-General
  • 1961: Worked as Senior Crown Counsel in the Chambers of the Attorney-General
  • 1962: Worked as Deputy Public Prosecutor
  • 1963: Appointed Attorney General of Kenya
Njonjo weds Margaret Bryson in 1972. [File, Standard]

Marriage and Children

  • November 1972: Married Margaret Bryson from United Kingdom
  • Children: Wairimu Njonjo, Nimu Njonjo and Josiah Njonjo.

Public appointments

  • 1963-1980: Served as Kenya’s first post-independence Attorney General
  • April 4, 1980: Njonjo announces that he has quit AG position to vie for Kikuyu MP seat
  • June, 1980: Njonjo appointed Minister for Constitutional and Home Affairs, designation changed to Ministry of Constitutional Affairs
The newly appointed Vice President, Mr Daniel arap Moi, is congratulated by the Attorney General, Mr Charles Njonjo, at State House, Mombasa, on January 14, 1967. (Right) Maurice Cardinal Otunga with the Attorney-General in 1975. [Kenya Yearbook]

Njonjo’s fall from grace and exit from public life

  • May 1983: President Moi declares at a rally that "a traitor" was being groomed by "foreign powers" to take over the presidency.
  • June 1983: Tourism Minister Elijah Mwangale names Njonjo as “the traitor” in Parliament
  • June 29, 1983: Moi relieves Njonjo of his post as Minister for Home and Constitutional Affairs
  • July 26, 1983: Moi appoints judicial commission of inquiry to probe the conduct of Njonjo
  • July 8, 1983: Charles Njonjo is suspended from Kanu
  • May 1983:  Njonjo officially dismisses allegations of treachery
  • November 9, 1984: Judicial inquiry submits report on Njonjo to Moi
    • Commission report finds Njonjo guilty of abuse of office
  • December 12, 1984: Moi pardons Njonjo in speech to mark Kenya’s independence
  • July 1998: Njonjo is appointed chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Sources: Kenya Law, Reuters, BBC, Pathé, Who’s Who in Africa: Leaders for the 1990s.

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