When he breathed his last in the wee hours of Sunday night, Sir Charles Mugane Njonjo closed a rich chapter of Kenya’s history that has never been recorded.
His life is closely intertwined with the nation’s formation, growth and even transformation. He not only witnessed the country’s twists and turns, but was also an influential player in nation building.
Born to a colonial chief in 1920, he became Kenya’s first Attorney General at independence in 1963. This is after getting top education abroad including from the famous London School of Economics.
At the time, he represented Kenya’s shining young lights on whose shoulders the weight of crafting a strong country was bestowed.
Besides serving as Kenya’s first Attorney General, Njonjo, who assumed the nickname Sir Charles, after his liking for British mannerism, served as Member of Parliament, Minister and chairman of several parastatals. At the time of his death he was the only surviving member of Kenya's independence Cabinet.
He can, therefore, be said to have bestrode the Kenyan landscape like a colossus.
As Attorney General, he fought and won against a group calling for a change of the Constitution to avoid the then Vice President Daniel arap Moi from taking over from first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
He stuck to the law and Vice President Moi went on to succeed Mzee Kenyatta as the president.
His knowledge of the law made sure the president and the Government were never caught unawares in Parliament or any other platform. Now that he is gone, may be one regret for Kenyans would be that he did not write his memoirs.
Kenyans would have wanted to read his take on the major political, economic and social events that shaped the nation.
History as told by people who were actually in the thick of things, offers a perspective that cannot be found anywhere else and could help shape the future. Njonjo’s memoirs could lift the lid on numerous mysteries of governance in Kenya’s over 58 years of self-rule.
When told from his mouth, decisions that were made by influential people, could have been scrutinized and Kenyans would understand the why.
Kenyans would understand why the country made certain political and economic policy statements.
As Kenyans bid farewell to the powerful AG also nicknamed the “Duke of Kabeteshire”, may be it is time for influential and patriotic Kenyans to consider telling their life’s stories, and hopefully help shape a better nation for future generations.
Fare thee well Sir Charles Mugane Njonjo!