When the first president of Kenya Died, it was end of the world for the fifth president
Jomo Kenyatta, the founding President of Kenya died around this time 45 years ago.
The initiator of the ‘Harambee,’ motto passed away on August 22, 1978.
The current President of Kenya, William Samoei Ruto then aged 12, was that innocent village child grazing his family cattle walking barefooted.
The news of President Kenyatta’s death found him in the field tending livestock in the Sambut village of Kamagut Ward in the Uasin Gishu County of Rift Valley Province.
In his own words, President Ruto upon hearing that the country’s president was dead, was so shocked that he rushed the cattle home.
“It occurred to me that was the end of the world, a doomsday,” Ruto recalls.
But it never occurred to him that someday he will fill the position of that great man whose death looked like it was the end of the world to him.
There have been many accounts regarding the late Kenyatta’s condition a few days before his death.
A number of Kenya’s media outlets reported that on August 21 1978, President Jomo Kenyatta and the first lady, Mama Ngina were at the Mombasa State House.
The top family was hosting for lunch a number of Kenya’s ambassadors and high commissioners abroad at State House, Mombasa.
Reports have that the distinguished guests noticed that Mzee Kenyatta’s speech was somewhat slurry and incoherent.
That afternoon President Kenyatta was overwhelmed by fatigue and reportedly decided to retire to his suite for a rest.
His physician Dr. Eric Mngola used the moment to attend to the clearly exhausted Kenyatta.
The President was however later revived and felt better by 4.00 pm that evening, enough to attend a traditional entertainment by Digo cultural troupe at Msambweni in Kwale, South Coast.
But towards the end of the show, Jomo Kenyatta’s condition took a dip again. He looked clearly exhausted as he asked for water.
The Coast Province Commissioner Eliud Mahihu would tell the media years later that the president had actually suffered a mild heart attack that day.
The show had to be brought to an end and Kenyatta rushed back to the Mombasa State House.
It was there that the Head of State developed breathing problems and by the time someone went to the Aga Khan hospital to fetch an oxygen cylinder, Mzee quietly passed on.
Mzee Jomo Kenyatta died aged between 80 and 81 years.
He was the president of Kenya from 12 December 1964 to 22 August 1978.
Daniel Arap Moi the long-reigning Kenya President replaced him from 1978 to 2002.