Here is what many Kenyans may not know about Mama Ngina Kenyatta, and something too about Stanley Shapashina ole Oloitiptip.
The above occasion was the launch of direct flights from America to East Africa by Pan American Airways (Pan-Am) and also in attendance at the occasion were the 1st ladies then of Tanzania/Tanganyika/Zanzibar and Uganda i.e. it was either soon before or soon after Tanganyika and Zanzibar came together to form the United Republic of Tanzania i.e. “Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania.”
Pan American Airways (Pan-Am) was the Safaricom of global airlines in those days though they went bust and closed shop in 1991. Jeff Koinange was one among several Kenyans who worked for Pan-Am here in Kenya in the “good old days.”
Many Kenyans continue to ridicule, deride and demean Mama Ngina Kenyatta even referring to her as “a maid.” Mama Ngina Kenyatta speaks very good Kiswahili and good English, and unlike many of us, was not fortunate to have formal schooling/formal education.
She learned to speak and write in English the hard way, and she also learned her formal mathematics the hard way i.e. through home schooling & private tutors, and she is not alone i.e. the legendary Njenga Karume also learned to speak and write in English the hard way i.e. through home schooling and private tutors/”distance learning”/”e-learning”.
It wasn’t easy i.e. she had five young dependants she had to cater for i.e. her children Jeni, Christina, Uhuru, Nyokabi & Muhoho, the future was not quite certain or quite clear e.g. there was a Kenya Army mutiny at Lanet Barracks Nakuru on 24th January 1964, only 43 days after Kenya attained independence on 12th December 1963 and after a military coup in Zanzibar and an attempted military coup in Tanganyika, and her husband Jomo Kenyatta had a “roving eye” i.e. Jomo liked women and the legend even goes that Jomo even fathered a child with one of his secretaries.
So it was not easy for Ngina, and she is literate, unlike many Kenyans imagine, and that literacy, however limited, came the hard way.
None of us owes Mama Ngina Kenyatta anything, but it is important that we equally appreciate that a formal education is not everything. There are many other Kenyans like Ngina who also have notable and distinguished places in Kenyan History despite limited formal schooling or no formal schooling at all e.g. Daniel T. arap Moi, Gen. Jackson Mulinge, Gen. Mahmoud Mohammed, the legendary Ibrahim Ambwere and the legendary Mulu Mutisya, credited for launching the political career of Kenya’s 10th Vice-President i.e. the very well educated, brilliant & highly intellectual Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka.
Indeed as mentioned, no one in Kenya owes Mama Ngina Kenyatta or anyone else anything, but for the many of us who feel that we are “better” than Ngina and many others, maybe we should be guided by the following outstanding example i.e. there was a Corporate titan in the US called Lee Iacocca who accomplished a remarkable turnaround i.e. he brought back the giant Chrysler Motor Company from bankruptcy and insolvency to profitability, so much so that Chrysler paid off it’s debts in 1983, eight years ahead of the scheduled targeted date of 1991. So impressed were Americans that many asked Iacocca to stand for President in 1988, feeling that Iacocca could do for America what he did for Chrysler. Iacocca however declined the invitation.
May the Kenyan Lee Iacocca please step forward so that we can all forever hold our peace and “live happily ever after.”
Stanley Shapashina ole Oloitiptip and the role he played in saving the day for Daniel T. arap Moi in 1976,
Stanley Shapashina ole Oloitiptip (in accompanying attachment/image II) was a Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament for Kajiado South in Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya and Daniel T. arap Moi’s Kenya, and fought celebrated supremacy battles for the Kajiado Maa in the 1970s with one time Kajiado North Member of Parliament John Keen. Stanley Shapashina ole Oloitiptip also famously helped bring a stop to the 1976 “Change-the-Constitution” Grouping by collecting majority signatures from then Kenyan Members of Parliamnet opposed to a change in the then Kenyan Constitution.
President Jomo Kenyatta was in deteriorating health at the time i.e. 1976, and it looked like his time was near, and the aim of the “Change-the-Constitution” Group was to introduce an amendment to the then Kenyan Constitution barring the Vice-President from automatically succeeding the President in the event of the death or incapacitation of the President. Kenya’s Vice-President at the time was Daniel T. arap Moi.
The “Change-the-Constitution” Grouping fronted by the then all-powerful “Kiambu Mafia” had wanted the constitution amended to allow for the Speaker of the National Assembly to act as Kenyan President for a period of 90 days pending the election of a new Kenyan President.
Daniel T. arap Moi therefore remained most grateful to Stanley Shapashina ole Oloitiptip for his role in preventing an amendment to the then Kenya Constitution that would have barred the Vice-President from automatically ascending to the Presidency in the event of the demise or incapacitation of the President, though President Jomo Kenyatta himself, as recorded in the 1980 book “The Kenyatta Succession” by Philip Ochieng and Joseph Karimi, also put his foot down by summoning key players in the “Kiambu Mafia” then to State House Nakuru, called them “stupid” to their faces, and told them that “a Cow is not shown the rope that will be used to strangle it to death.”
Daniel T. arap Moi and Stanley Shapashina ole Oloitiptip however went back much further than 1976 i.e. to Colonial Kenya when smaller Kenyan tribes were fighting the dominance of Kenyan politics by the two big tribes then & now i.e. the Kikuyu and the Luo.
It appears though that Oloitiptip “went astray” after this i.e. after helping save Moi from the “guillotine” of 1976 of the “Kiambiu Mafia’s” Change-the-Constitution initiative.
Namely, during the Njonjo Commission of Inquiry of 1984 into the conduct of one time Kenyan Attorney-General Charles Mugane Njonjo and his alleged scheme to overthrow the then Kenya Government of Daniel T. arap Moi, Stanley Shapashina ole Oloitiptip was listed as having been Njonjo’s designated Vice-President in Kenya’s new Government of “President Charles Njonjo.” Daniel T. arap Moi never forgave Stanley Shapashina ole Oloitiptip for this.
Daniel T. arap Moi however clearly knew about the allegation that Oloitiptip was “Kenya’s next Vice-President” before it surfaced at the 1984 Njonjo Commission of Inquiry, because after the snap Kenyan General Elections of September 1983, President Moi did not re-appoint Oloitiptip to the Cabinet. The legend even goes that Oloitiptip went to State House Nairobi and issued a veiled warning to President Moi i.e. that the Maa were “not happy” about Oloitiptip’s omission from the new Cabinet, something that could lead to “mass action” by the Maa. This was one year after the military coup attempt of 1st August 1982 and Daniel T. arap Moi was still understandably on edge.
The legend goes that President Moi responded to Oloitiptip with one word in Kiswahili i.e. “Thubutu” i.e. “You tell them to go ahead with their “mass action”… yes, you tell them to carry out their threat, and I assure you that they will know that there is a Government in this country.” Oloitiptip got the message loud and clear and backtracked, the legend goes.
Suffice it to say though, that the friendship between Daniel T. arap Moi and Stanley Shapashina ole Oloitiptip was over. Oloitiptip remained a Member of Parliament though, and was not “expelled” from the then ruling party the Kenya African National Union (KANU), because in those days KANU was the only political party in Kenya, and once you were suspended or expelled from KANU, you automatically lost your parliamentary seat or your civic seat, because even with suspensions, they were usually for 90 day periods, which surpassed the duration of time that Members of Parliament and Councillors were allowed inactive duty back then.
Oloitiptip was however jailed in November 1984, for non-compliance in payment of certain State levies. He died in January 1985.
Daniel T. arap Moi had his ruthless side i.e. Moi neither sent condolences, nor did he attend Oloitiptip’s funeral. No Kenyan Civil Servant at the time either, dared attend Oloitiptip’s funeral.