They are popularly referred to as the founding fathers of the country. Of course there were many founding fathers that died mysteriously and are never mentioned in the history of the country. The first president of Kenya, Johnstone Kamau Wa Ngegi alias Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and the second president of Kenya Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi famously known as Nyayo are loved by many in the country and hated with an equal measure. The best legacy these two leaders left that we can remember them for are selfishness and egocentrism; they are leaders who went all the way to fulfil their narcissistic spirit.
The first in my article is Jomo Kenyatta. The fight for independence in Kenya was spearheaded by very many Kenyans from different tribes in Kenya. It was not a one man’s show. Ronald Ngala, James Gichuru, Masinde Muliro, Tom Mboya, Oginga Odinga, Pio Gama pinto among hosts of other people struggled to ensure that the country gained its freedom from the colonialists. When Kenyatta was imprisoned in 1962 the war for liberation went on more aggressively than ever.
Come independence in 1963 and things began to change. Kenyatta became the prime minister then president in 1964. From then, historical facts were distorted to appear that it was Kenyatta chiefly fighting for independence with others playing minor roles. So selfish was the Gatundu man that he named a holiday after himself: Kenyatta Day. Historically, there were six people who were arrested, Kenyatta being one of them, and were imprisoned in Kapenguria hence the name “Kapenguria six”. However, the self-interested president saw he deserved praises alone while the rest were treated as lesser beings.
Apart from Paul Ngei, the remaining Kapenguria six and other nationalists did not enjoy the new government they had sacrificed a lot in order for to be created. Achieng Oneko was detained by the same Kenyatta they were imprisoned with. Bildad Kaggia renounced corruption in the regime of Kenyatta and was purged from KANU party. In 1966, Kenyatta himself went to Kandara to campaing against Kaggia ensuring the latter failed to win the parliamentary seat. Kung’u Karumba who did not join politics after independence disappeared without a trace on a business trip to Uganda. Other leaders who fought for independence along the geezer such as Tom Mboya, Argwings Kodhek, J.M Kariuki and Ronald Ngala were assassinated by the KANU government before two decades elapsed post-independence.
The selfishness of Kenyatta was fully displayed by his hunger to name everything after himself. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenyatta Avenue, Kenyatta Hospital, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Kenyatta Market in Nairobi; I could go on forever. Some were even named after his wife such as Mama Ngina Avenue. What a self-centred leader! Did we lack names to use so that we named lots of public property after one person? I won’t discuss the lands and property Kenyatta grabbed after independence. That will make its own article.
Come Moi in 1978 and things did not change. It wasn’t a coincidence he named himself “Nyayo”. He followed the exact footsteps of his predecessor, even overstepping some of them. First, he awarded himself a holiday on 10th October called Moi Day. Why it was celebrated remained ambiguous. The naming spree continued under Moi too. Moi Avenue, Moi University, Nyayo House, Moi Sports Centre Kasarani, Nyayo Stadium, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and hundreds of schools named after him across the country. Having served for twenty four years, social amenities named after him number in thousands. It was during Moi’s time that the tradition of hanging portrait of the president in offices and business enterprises emerged.
The leadership of the first two presidents set a bad pace for the country. Seeds of tribalism and corruption were planted in their time. Indeed they perfected the art of oppression, looting of both public and private resources as well as murder of opponents and setting up totalitarian regime. The two leaders even decided that currency of Kenya should bear their portraits. In 200 hundred years’ time, Kenya would have had tens of presidents, which brings the question; if every president decided to name everything after themselves, what scenario will we have? It is purely wrong to use public funds to construct a public house, or airport or road and end up naming it after an individual, whose contribution is only launching the facility.