17 Things You Didn’t Know About Uhuru Kenyatta
Uhuru Kenyatta has served as the fourth president of Kenya since his inauguration in April 2013, but he has been a prominent member in Kenyan politics for much longer. Although most of his private life has remained private, here are 17 things you didn’t know about Uhuru Kenyatta.
Sources: En.Wikipedia.org, SoftKenya.com, BornRich.com, StandardMedia.co.ke, Africa-Confidential.com, Mashable.com, Diasporamessenger.com, Nation.co.ke, BBC.com, News24.com, Allafrica.com.
“Uhuru,” is Swahili for “freedom”
The son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s founding father, Uhuru Kenyatta was brought up in a world of political awareness and participation. His name was given to him in anticipation of Kenya’s then-upcoming independence from the U.K.
Kenyatta played rugby growing up
While attending St. Mary’s, a Roman Catholic school in Nairobi, Kenyatta played winger for the school’s rugby team. He attended St. Mary’s until he left for the U.S. to attend university.
He studied political science at Amherst College in the U.S.
While it is common knowledge that Kenyatta attended Amherst, little more is known other than he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics in 1985. The lack of additional information about his time there has led to an enormous amount of rumor and speculation.
He started his first company in 1980
Right after his graduation from Amherst, Kenyatta returned to Kenya and started a business, Wilham Kenya Limited, which served to source and export agricultural produce. It is said that Kenyatta used to go and fetch produce for export personally with his pickup truck.
He married Margaret, his school-years sweetheart
Margaret Wanjiru and Kenyatta met at St. Andrews School, and became sweethearts. They married in Nairobi in 1989. She is the daughter of Njuguna Gakuo, former director of the state-controlled Kenya Railways Corp.
Margaret ran in the London Marathon
Margaret Kenyatta made history in April of 2014 as the first-ever African first lady to run and complete the London Marathon. She finished with a time of 7:05:28, with President Kenyatta waiting for her at the finish line.
He threatened to quit politics
Kenyatta campaigned in the election for the 1997 Gatundu South Constituency Parliamentary seat and was shocked when he lost. He’d gone in with a strong foundation of supporters and name recognition — the seat was formerly held by his father — but lost to a little-known Nairobi architect, Moses Mwihia. Kenyatta retreated to work in the family business for a time — an empire that dealt in hotels, airlines, and commercial farming.
Former President Moi’s assistance to Kenyatta came at his own expense
Kenyatta was appointed as the Kenya African National Union presidential candidate in 2002, a feat said to have been accomplished only through the political maneuvering of then-President Daniel arap Moi. Several senior party figures who saw their own ambitions thwarted resigned and set up the Liberal Democratic Party to oppose Moi and his administration.
Kenyatta is often viewed as one of the country’s most tech-savvy politicians
In the midst of Kenya’s budget discussion in 2011, Kenyatta invited Kenyans to tweet their views and opinions to the government in an effort to broaden public participation in the country’s political process. While it endeared him to many, the move did not resonate with the majority of the country’s population who did not have access to the Internet.
He was the Minister of Finance for three years
While also balancing his role as deputy prime minister, Kenyatta was made minister of finance in 2009. He resigned from that role in 2012 after the International Criminal Court charged him for crimes against humanity.
He was elected president following allegations of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court
In 2010, Kenyatta was named in connection with alleged crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court over the violent aftermath of the 2007 election in Naivasha and Nakuru. The charges were confirmed in January 2012, but Kenyatta still managed to win the presidential election in March 2013.
Kenyatta initially dismissed the ICC charges, but later chose to acknowledge them
Kenyatta appeared before the ICC in January 2012 with two other suspects — Civil Servant Ambassador Francis Muthaura and former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali. The charges were confirmed. Kenyatta had previously ignored several summons from the international court, but it is suspected that he changed his mind after realizing the evidence against him was, for the most part, underwhelming.
Kenyatta’s economic plan, Vision 2030, is a direct answer to Kenyans’ discontent
The plan, announced during Kenyatta’s inaugural address in 2013, promotes free maternal care at public health facilities for all citizens, improved standards of education, and unity among Kenyans. In his first year in office, public approval has not improved dramatically. His administration continues to struggle with the high cost of living and rising public debt.
He has an estimated net worth of $500 million
In large part thanks to his family’s expansive business interests, Kenyatta is one of the wealthiest men in his country, with an estimated net worth of $500 million USD.
His family’s bounty of Rift Valley land is controversial
Much of the Kenyatta fortune comes from huge swaths of land they own all over the country, including the Rift Valley, an area that saw the bloodiest clashes and more than 1,100 deaths after the 2007 elections.
He ordered repossession of Lamu land
In July 2014 Kenyatta ordered a half-million acres (nearly 70 percent) of Lamu County land to be repossessed. He claimed it was obtained through crooked dealings by private companies, and that it had fueled the current violence being seen in that coastal region of Kenya.
He met President Obama for the first time
The first week of August 2014, Presidents Kenyatta and Obama officially shook hands at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. The meeting of more than 50 representatives from the African continent was meant to strengthen ties.
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