Thursday, August 22, 2019, marked the 41st anniversary since the death of Kenya’s founding father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
On the same day, President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that the day marked the last public commemoration of his father’s death.
Uhuru said the decision was reached after consultation with his family members and that they will each celebrate him in the manner they remember him.
“The family has agreed that this is going to be the last celebration of Mzee in this manner. We shall each celebrate him as we remember him and the manner in which we will be doing our things going forward,” he said.
Kenyatta, an anti-colonial activist, is remembered for being part of individuals who fought for Kenya’s independence before rising to be the country’s first Prime Minister on June 1, 1963, and later ascending to Presidency on December 12, 1964.
He remained in power until August 22, 1978, when he died of a heart attack at State House, Mombasa.
Besides the struggle for independence that saw him arrested and imprisoned in 1954 alongside Bildad Kaggia, Kung’u Karumba, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei, and Achieng’ Oneko — popularly known as the Kapenguria Six — his actions after post-independence still linker on many Kenyans’ minds to date.
So what exactly do Kenyans remember Kenyatta for?
A local digital media sought views from Kenyans and many had interesting responses.
Founding father of the nation, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta; died on this day in 1978 (22 August 1978).
What do you remember him for? pic.twitter.com/GQIpIJM5Tg
— Kenyans.co.ke (@Kenyans) August 22, 2019
One would expect positive responses, however, for many, the late Kenyatta was a tyrant who ruled with an iron fist.
Some concurred that Mzee Kenyatta’s regime was riddled with land grabbing which was perpetrated by him for his benefit and members of his family.
They seemed to agree by a large extent with a 2013 report by the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), that revealed that the Kenyatta administration was characterized by land grabbing injustice that mainly benefitted his family and officials in his government.
For those who remember, the report stated that Kenyatta personally approved the purchase of large farms by his family in the Rift Valley, exempting the transactions from review by the respective land control boards.
In the process, his family acquired vast farms in Nakuru, Njoro and Rongai areas in the Rift Valley.
Retired President Daniel Moi, who succeeded him, was also reported to be a beneficiary of the injustice.
Here are some of the reactions.
Annah Kimani wrote, “Mzee Jomo didn’t entertain nonsense especially from countries that wished to annex Kenyan land. He chased away Somalia in the Shita War. He promised to send Kenya Airforce planes to Uganda, not to greet the then-president Amin’s grandmother but to defend Kenya’s sovereignty.
Oneko Arika said, “The biggest scam ever in the name of freedom/independence. It’s a serious thing when you have your colonial masters decide who are your heroes.”
Bomber Spirit said, “Like all African leaders, past and present, he was just another colonialist puppet heading one of the micky mouse freedoms.”
Michieka Enoc wrote, “Traitor, Land Grabber, Murderer to mention but a few.”
“How corrupt, disgraceful man, with tainted family was preaching to define political narrative with fake liberalism. #VoteForRuto , Tabitha ,Matiangi Moi University Tobiko RIP Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, ” Peter Onunga wrote.
Elhaji Abdul said, “Certified land grabber.”
Masaai Waria, “Grabbing the fertile land…with his conning policy#”
Kevin Matete said, “Land grabber who set the country in wrong direction of worshiping criminals through state fraud. Other countries like Tanzania were lucky!”
Sammy Peter Mwangi wrote, “The worst inhuman man to have ever lived in Kenya. Wish he had died in his mother’s womb!”
Githae Peter said, “Urinated on the Gikuyu people’s brains, that brain-washed them…. And installed a mind-set that will make us live in bondage until the return of Jesus Christ/Mohammed.”
Nkopane Mathibeli said, “He was a traitorous tribalist who amongst other great Kenyans, he oversaw the murder of Tom Mboya.”
Restaurateur said, “His greed, misdeeds & seed will haunt this country for as long as it exists….trash!”
Wanangwe Wa Muchika said, “Corruption, land grabbing, assassinations, tribalism, nepotism and everything wrong with Kenya.”
Job Isaac, “Alikuwa anasema kuanzia hapa ni kwnagu….analala..for a couple of hours,akiamka anasema mpaka hapa…that is how he and his descendants became wenye nchi!!! Opulence!”
Kenty Shiku, “A lot of negative things and I wonder why history teachers are fooling kids saying he was a hero”
Take Kenyatta's body to his village in Ichaweri,Kiambu, the house that peasants fundraised to buy land and build for him.He left prison a poor man and died a billionaire.Quote this tweet and post why that body should be removed from the heart of our city and taken to his village pic.twitter.com/dH8k3o3Wua
— #FreeStellaNyanzi (@bonifacemwangi) August 22, 2019