We don't get to see people turn 100 years very often, and that's the reason Charles Njonjo -- the premier Attorney General of post-independence Kenya -- is one interesting story to talk about. The one-time powerful legal adviser to Kenya's founding President Jomo Kenyatta has been trending since the start of this week, reason? He is celebrating his 100th birthday!
Born on 23rd January 1920, his rise into the upper class is traced to his father, Josiah Njonjo, a colonial Paramount Chief and one of the foremost collaborators of the British in Kenya. For Njonjo, growing up in a wealthy family meant having tens of nannies and domestic workers at his disposal -- the young Njonjo rode to school on a horse accompanied by a servant. His family was clearly at the top of the black social class hierarchy and considered themselves members of the elite class.
He has a resolute history, regardless that he made popular or unpopular decisions. He never winced or faltered. For once, Kenyans witnessed purposeful robustness and decisive brand in the Attorney General. He blazed the trail for the likes of Amos Wako, Githu Muigai, and Paul Kihara Kariuki to follow.
There is a Chinese saying that goes: "If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody."
It shouldn't come as a surprise that 100-year-old Njonjo finds happiness in helping others, he inspired the philanthropic spirit -- emphasizing to Kenyans that you can't just be a rich fellow, that you have to do something, to be engaged in useful, productive work; you should do something. Njonjo eschewed idleness. Indeed, he has instilled in his wealthy social circle a sense of noblesse obliges, the notion that people born of high rank have the responsibility to be kind or to help others.
He treasures his reputation for generosity in helping the people of Kikuyu - now Kabete Constituency whom he represented in the national assembly, and also Kenyans at large. His service in the private sector, through various boards, he was involved with, as well as the church -- All Saints Cathedral. "I have also dedicated many hours to numerous charities, social enterprises, and educational institutions such as the Alliance High School, the Kenya High School, and Starehe Boys Centre."
Njonjo has, for sure, revamped his image; he has zero image repair issues. His exemplary love and his passion for bringing relief to individuals and groups, as well as his humility in spite of all the enormous social graces God brought his way, is worthy to be embraced.
I'm of a firm conviction that if other affluent Kenyans emulate Njonjo and impact lives as awesomely as he did and continue to do, many of the woes of Kenya would be yesterday news, even if there were just 100 wealthy individuals with the kind of zeal to serve humanity exemplified by Njonjo. Anchored on this, the maverick lawyer's life reflects forgiveness and unconditional benevolence.
His long and happy life affirms Goldie Hawn's famous quote: "Giving back is as good for you as for those that you are helping because giving gives you purpose. When you have a purpose-driven life, you're a happier person."