The question of the succession to Kenyatta had been raised in different forums by different categories of Kenyans since 1964. Some Kenyan political leaders had even tried, on several occasions, to persuade Kenyatta to name an heir or to create the post of prime minister. Fortunately for Kenya, Kenyatta resisted all such temptations, preferring instead to adhere to the provisions of the constitution. Since independence, the country had produced several political leaders who could be considered as potential contenders for succession: Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala. None of these three was, however, fated to succeed. Odinga went into the political wilderness in 1966 when he resigned from the Kenya African National Union (KANU) to form his own party, the Kenya People's Union (KPU). Mboya was assassinated on 5 July 1969, and four years later, Ronald Ngala, former President of the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) died from an accident. This left Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, who had become vice-president in January 1967 in succession to Joseph Murumbi, who had resigned, Mbiyu Koinange, Njoroge Mungai and Mwai Kibaki as possible contenders for the presidency.
While attending the Commonwealth Conference in London in early 1969, Tom Mboya, in an interview with a Nigerian journalist, Sam Uba, had offered what he called 'an intelligent guess' about the succession issue in Kenya. According to his diagnosis, Kenyatta's preference for the job was Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, but he suspected that Kenyatta would do nothing about the intra-party struggle for the succession and would not name his successor. Mboya said,