Obituary

Kyale Mwendwa… and other Freemasons in Kenyatta government!

Gor Mahia chair Ambrose Rachier, Nairobi Hospital’s Dr Joseph Aluoch and former Vice President Moody Awori among loaded Masons

Goldfish have no hiding place: The late Kyale Mwendwa (centre), owner of St Austin’s Academy, inspecting his late wife’s Mausoleum in Kitui in 2014. He was an ‘Inner Guard’ at the Freemasons Lodge in Nairobi as declassified files at the National Archives reveal.

By Undercover Reporter

He was a Freemason, one of many in government including Cabinet Ministers, High Court judges, nabobs at the Central Bank of Kenya. Include also eminent doctors, lawyers, pilots, architects and engineers.

Kyale Mwendwa, scion of colonial-era Paramount Chief Mwendwa Kitavi, died at the Aga Khan hospital Nairobi at 94.

Kyale was an ‘Inner Guard’ at the Freemasons Lodge along Nyerere Road in Nairobi as declassified files at the National Archives reveal. Freemasons are a secretive fraternal brotherhood in which only the wealthy and powerful elite are invited for ‘social networking and charity.’

Freemasonry is not a religious sect. It has no high priests. Membership is not for self enrichment. Curiously, members are rarely hustlers. But their closed door rituals and ceremonies have always raised eyebrows.

Founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, an irreligious, self-confessed agnostic, had no clue of the Freemasons in his government- as only a Mason can recognize a fellow Mason anywhere in the world!

Kyale Mwendwa was in good company as Attorney General Charles Njonjo was also a Freemason

Just the way it is: President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta announcing a new Cabinet at his Ichaweri home in Gatundu, Kiambu County. (From left to right) is Minister of State, Mbiyu Koinange, a Freemason. Besides him is churchy Vice President Daniel arap Moi. For ever drunk Finance Minister, James Gichuru, First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta always stored cold Whitecaps in case he dropped by ‘thirsty.’ Like Moi, he was not a Mason. President Mwai Kibaki also Freemasons in government including Vice President Moody Awori. Masons must believe in a Supreme Being, but Jomo was an agnostic, ruling him out. Jomo Kenyatta’s family members are themselves staunch front-pew Catholics and the Roman Catholic Church is against Freemansory. In Africa, Gabonese President Ali Bongo, is a Grand Master in his country, while of America’s 45 Presidents, 14 were Freemasons, the last being Gerald Ford who died in 2006.

Before the Mwendwas faded from public limelight, they were known as a family of many firsts: Kitili Mwendwa, was Kenya’s first African Chief Justice. His wife, Nyiva Mwendwa was Kenya’s first woman Cabinet Minister. She also groomed former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, then a countrified rural chick after Kenya’s independence in 1963. He taught Mama Ngina which skirts matched with which blouses, how to hold champagne glasses during state banquets. ‘Kwa Nyiva’ is an enclave in Gigiri where her tenants comprise consulates, embassies and UN employees.

‘Brother’ Kyale Mwendwa was named in the letter as the Lodge’s ‘Inner Guard’- a junior officer who guards the Lodge from inside the door

You’ve got it coming: The late Gor Mahia chair and Assistant Minister, Joab Omino. The former Kisumu Town MP and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, confessed to being the Grand Master of the Kisumu Masonic Lodge during investigations into the assassination of former Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Robert Ouko in 1991. Omino was arrested for being Ouko’s strongest opponent in the 1988 elections in which he lost by 2000 votes and would have thus benefited from Ouko’s murder. Charles Njonjo, a fellow Mason, had heavily funded Omino, his neighbour in Muthaiga, Nairobi. When Omino, a wealthy banker turned businessman, died of cancer in 2004, the Anglican Church refused to bury him! Ironically, the All Saint’s Cathedral along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi, the sit of the Anglican Church and cancelled venue of Omino’s funeral service, was designed by British Gothic architect, Temple Moore, a Freemason who built it with fellow Freemasons in 1917. They also erected their Masonic Lodge across the road where it still stands along Kirk Road, now Nyerere Road. In the foundation stone of All Saint’s, the Masons, as per their traditions, buried a copy of that day’s East African Standard newspaper and Rupee coins bearing the year! Current Gor Mahia chair Ambrose Rachier, is also a Freemason.

Ngala Mwendwa, Kyale’s elder brother, was in Kenya’s first Cabinet as Minister for Labour and Social Services and owned over 900 acres forming today’s sprawling Githurai area in Nairobi.

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Kyale Mwendwa, on the other hand, was Kenya’s first African Director of Education. He later became a Cabinet Minister and MP for Kitui West in 1986, after Kitili, the then MP, died in a road accident the previous year, ocassioning a byelection. Kyale was later defeated by Nyiva Mwendwa during the ridiculous ‘Mlolongo’ voting system of 1988. Besides St Austin’s Academy, Kyale owned priceless parcels including a plot in Upperhill, Nairobi where an acre goes for Sh1billion, the most expensive in East and Central Africa.

Politics and properties aside, Kyale Mwendwa was also an active Freemason.

In Masonic speak, to ‘tyle’ is to ‘guard the door from unqualified, malicious or the curious’

This way for a shroud: The Freemasons Hall along Nyerere Road in Nairobi and which the outlawed Mungiki sect tried burning down to no avail in 2002. There are over 30 Masonic Lodges in Kenya with membership restricted to referrals. Lately, the Masons have opened up to outsiders. Andy Chande, a former Grand Master of Freemasons in East Africa, notes in his book, Whither Directing Your Course, that the sole purpose of Freemasonry is to influence standards, virtues of brotherly love, relief and truth” besides developing character, high ethical standards and loyalty to God, country and fellow humans. Freemasonry is not a substitute to religion. Political and religious debates are prohibited during Lodge meetings.

Kyale was in good company as Attorney General Charles Njonjo and Mbiyu Koinange, a powerful Minister of State, were also Freemasons.

A letter — now part of declassified papers in Mbiyu Koinange’s file — received on June 1, 1970 from Murad Kassam, the secretary of the Freemasons, reads in part:

“You are summoned to attend the Lodge at Freemasons Hall, Nairobi, on Friday 19, 1970 at 6.30 pm. The Lodge will be tyled up at 6.45 precisely. By command of the Right Worshipful Master, Brother M. Basheen Chaudry. Dress code: Dinner jacket and white gloves.”

My laugh comes last: Dr Joseph Aluoch, 77, a chest specialist at Nairobi Hospital is an open practicing Freemason who even promotes and answers questions about the society on his Facebook page. He is with his grandson Vincent Ochieng’ (above) during the 2017 Concours d’Elegance at the Ngong Race Course where he came second with his 1991 Mercedes SE300, a 20th wedding anniversary gift for himself and his wife, Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch.

In Masonic speak, to ‘tyle’ is to ‘guard the door from unqualified, malicious or the curious’. Among the businesses of the day, reads the letter, was to “open the Lodge, read summons covering the meeting and ballot for initiation into Freemasons of Mr Humphrey Rugunda Njoroge, the Assistant Exchange Controller, Central Bank of Kenya.” Rugunda, who was being made an ‘Entered Apprentice’ died in Kanyariri, Kiambu County in 1999.

Justice AB Shah cried like a baby explaining he was bound to help a Masonic Brother! Instead of facing a tribunal, Justice Shah opted to retire

Whiff of money: Mbiyu Koinange earned less than Sh7, 000 as Minister of State in the office of the President. But he died worth Sh10 billion including the 246-acre Closeburn Estate where Two Rivers mall now sits. Mbiyu had no running ventures or any known business acumen to match the wealth he left behind. One duty of Masons is to ‘help each other’.

The other agenda was “to take collection in aid of the Lodge and to raise into the sublime Degree of Master Mason” of, among others, a former minister of Health, one of Kenya’s eminent historians and Mbiyu Koinange.

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‘Brother’ Kyale Mwendwa was named in the letter as the Lodge’s ‘Inner Guard’- a junior officer who guards the Lodge from inside the door.  

One duty of Masons is to help each other. Appellant Judge AB Shah even helped lawyer Virinder Goswami-a fellow Mason – write a replying affidavit in a case in which Justice Shah was determining in 2003.

Like a hole in the head: Billionaire sugar and timber baron Jaswant Rai of Raiply fortune had been sued by his family members for salting away money to buy individual shares in Timsales and the then Commercial Bank of Africa-where the Kenyattas have significant interests. He hired lawyer Virinder Goswami, a Freemason like head Judge AB Shah-which meant Goswami would not lose the case. Suspended for gross misconduct and corruption,  Justice Shah cried like a baby explaining he was bound to help a Masonic Brother with whom he was tied by ‘dutiful worsip’! Instead of facing trial by Tribunal, Justice Shah opted to retire.

Kyale Mwendwa will be buried at his Matinyani home in Kitui West Constituency.

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