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Fri, 10.20.1893

Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta

Jomo Kenyatta

On this date in 1893, we celebrate the birth of Jomo Kenyatta. He was an Black African politician.

He was from the Kikuyu tribe, and one of the earliest and best-known African nationalist leaders. He became secretary of his tribal association in 1928, campaigning for land reform and Black African political rights.  In England, he collaborated with other African nationalist students and in 1946, founded the Pan-African Federation with Kwame Nkrumah.  Returning to Kenya, he became president of the Kenya African Union that same year. In 1953, during the Mau Mau uprising, Kenyatta was imprisoned by the British as one of its instigators and sent to internal exile in 1959.

Kenyatta was elected president of the newly founded Kenya African National Union while in exile (1960). Released in 1961, he participated in negotiations with the British to write a new constitution for Kenya, which became independent in 1963. An author, he wrote "Facing Mount Kenya" (1938) and "Suffering Without Bitterness" (1968). Kenya became a republic in 1964 with Kenyatta as its first president. Influential throughout Africa, Kenyatta was intolerant of dissent in Kenya. Outlawing some opposition parties in 1969, he established a one-party state in 1974. The stability resulting from his leadership attracted foreign investment, partly because of his non-aligned foreign policy. He died in office in 1978.

The Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.
ISBN 0-85229-633-0 The World Book Encyclopedia.
Copyright 1996, World Book, Inc.
ISBN 0-7166-0096-X

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