President once executed an upper cut on a State House waiter who spilled soup on his suit
By GW Ngari
The President introduced two male Cabinet colleagues as “my father and
mother” to visiting diplomats at State House Nakuru. That was one of many red
flags President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was losing his marbles.
I mean, why would Kenyatta refer to
Minister of State, Mbiyu Koinange, his brother in-law as his father? Assistant
Foreign Affairs Minister Kassim Mwamzandi was also shocked he was Kenyatta’s
Kenyatta, who once executed an upper cut on a waiter who spilled soup on his
suit during a State banquet for American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood
Marshall, was increasingly running out of breath.
So bad were the memory losses, he lost track of directions and once found himself in the dingy quarters of domestic staffers at State House Mombasa! He also often forgot his trademark flywhisk and had to be shown his signature to remember it.
Lee Njiru, long term presidential communication officer, termed the signature as having moved from elegance to appear like “a ruffled fly-whisk or a traditional broom.”
Before his death this week on August 22, 1978, Jomo Kenyatta had collapsed several times and had to be lifted by aides at the end of official functions. During the opening of the Mombasa Agricultural Show in Mswambweni, a day before his death, Burning Spear collapsed in a toilet from where he was retrieved by Coast PC Eliud Mahihu and Mbiyu Koinange. It was the final sign a State Funeral was in the offing.
Kenyatta’s 88 year old heart had been frail and failing for a decade and those close to Kenyatta knew his heart was in a threadbare condition. So apparent was the fear, Dr Christiaan Barnard, the world’s most famous surgeon of his day, was invited by Attorney General Charles Njonjo to check on Kenyatta’s heart. Dr Barnard gave the President six months to live.
And death, as it does to all men, finally came to President Jomo Kenyatta two years later this week. Instead of his signature rallying call, Harambee! incoherence saw him end his last public speech in Mombasa with ‘Amen’
Never mind he always had an ambulance and a battalion of nurses carrying camouflaged medical oxygen cylinders, but for strange reasons were hardly engaged to check on him, according to Njiru.
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