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Why Kibaki, Karume were banned from carving goat ribs

DP leaders John Keen (left), Mwai Kibaki and Njenga Karume during a political rally in Limuru, Kiambu, in August 1992. [File, Standard]

There are many slips between the ribs and the lips which almost ruined Jomo Kenyatta’s chances of being the country’s first-ever Prime Minister in 1963.

The Constitution then had been crafted to create the post of a Prime Minister who was to work with Malcom MacDonald, the colonial governor, even as London retained Foreign Affairs and National Defense dockets.  

But there was a problem. Kenyatta was not an MP and Gatundu was not a constituency then and none of the lawmakers was willing to sacrifice their seats.

In a bid to look for a pliable MP who would surrender a seat to Kenyatta, a meeting was planned in June 1963. The targeted MP, Kariuki Wa Njiiri, who was representing Kigumo was invited to the meeting which was disguised as a goat-eating party.

“Since I did not want to attract any special attention, I asked a patriot, Robert Njenga to slaughter a ram for Wazee at his home in Karura rather than holding a party at my house," recalls Njenga Karume.

The meeting was attended by Njiiri, Mwai Kibaki, Benard Hinga, Robert Njenga, Dr Munyua Waiyaki and Henry Wariithi.

Karume who had a reputation for carving meat was asked to slice up the meat but was surprised when Kibaki joined him in the kitchen. “As I was slicing one of my friends, a mischievous young man, said he was going to the kitchen too."

Kibaki asked Karume to cut up the ribs first so they could eat as they sliced up the rest of the meat.

Karume bought into the idea and within no time the two had devoured a substantial chunk of ribs as their friends chatted and drank beer in another section of the house.

“We ended up eating all the ribs in the other room Dr Muyua Waiyaki was getting hungry and decided that we were taking too long. He was shocked at the meat gradually disappearing.”

Kibaki then tried to rope Waiyaki into the conspiracy, telling him to eat some meat and not expose them. But it took a top cop, Hinga to scuttle the plot. When he caught the three eating meat, he shouted.“ These rogues have eaten everything!”

The outrageous guests who felt shortchanged dashed to the kitchen and confirmed that a substantial section of the goat had been eaten.

Karume reminisces in his memoirs, Beyond Expectations: From Charcoal to Gold, “With great teasing and laughter, we were banned from ever carving any more meat and soon another goat met its end.”

Njiiri agreed to cede his seat to Kenyatta, and consequently gifted Kenya her first Prime Minister. The goat-eating parties and the unbreakable bonds stayed to end of Kenyatta’s reign in 1978.