Uhuru and the Catholic Connection: Kenya's New President Was Born a Catholic, Grew Up a Catholic, and Was Helped by the Catholic Church Behind the Scenes to Win the 4 March Presidential Election, Reports Wanjohi Kabukuru

Article excerpt

ON 21 OCTOBER 1961, THE EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE Kenya African National Union (KANU), Mwai Kibaki, and his bosom friend Njenga Karume, accompanied the country's founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, to his home in Gatundu in Kiambu County on the outskirts of Nairobi. This visit was special, as narrated by the late Karume in his book From Charcoal to Gold. Kenyatta's fourth wife, Mama Ngina, had just delivered a son. According to Karume, it was Kibaki who suggested that the young boy be named Uhuru (Swahili for freedom) as Kenya was then poised to become an independent republic.

Old Jomo had remained true to his Gikuyu customs in terms of religion, but his wife was from a strict Catholic family. But the Old Man had no objection to his son being led into Catholicism, and as Kibaki also came from a strict Catholic background, he became Uhuru's godfather. The young Uhuru attended the highbrow Catholic academy, St Mary's School, before going to the USA for his economics degree.

Duncan Ndegvva, the first African governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, brings out these facts in his book, Kenyatta Struggles. Kibaki was not the only Catholic figure in the young Uhuru's life. The second figure was the former internal security minister, John Michuki, who not only gave Uhuru his first job at the Kenya Commercial Bank where the young man worked as a teller, but also lobbied for Uhuru to be made finance minister in the Kibaki administration.

Michuki was President Kibaki's "enforcer" and is credited as being the man who brought order to the chaotic Kenyan public transport system. Michuki was also the one who set the ball rolling for Uhuru's presidency when he endorsed him two years ago. Many believe that Michuki did so at Kibaki's bidding.

The third Catholic figure in Uhuru's life was his maternal uncle, George Muhoho, a Catholic priest, who had studied Canon Law at the Rome-based Collegio San Pietro. Muhoho rose to the rank of monsignor and was the first black priest to become a Vatican diplomat attached to the European Union headquarters in Brussels. The former priest (who speaks more than five European and multiple African languages) was instrumental in activating the resourceful Catholic network and an interfaith campaign to make sure Kenya's fourth president is a Catholic. The venue for Muhoho's strategy was Gatundu Stadium in Kiambu on Sunday, 3 April 2011. On that day the reality began to dawn for how Kenya's politics would play out in the next 22, months. On that day, the entire former First Family, led by the matriarch former first lady, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, held an open-air special service for both her son Uhuru and William Ruto, who four months earlier, had been named by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as "bearing the biggest responsibility" in the 2007-2,008 post-election violence. …