President Uhuru in his condolence message to the family described Njonjo ”as not only our national hero but an icon of Kenya’s progress through the years”.
Kenya’s first attorney general Charles Mugane Njonjo died aged 101 this Sunday morning and in line with his instructions he was immediately cremated at the Hindu crematorium in Kariokor, Nairobi.
Family members said the Njonjo was affectionately referred to as the Duke of Kabeteshire because of his imposing English style of living, died peacefully at his Muthaiga home at 5:00am and his body taken to Lee Funeral Home for preparation before being cremated in the morning.
Njonjo had left instructions that his remains should be immediately cremated and should not take more than 12 hours – the family followed his wish and cremated him within hours of death.
In his condolence message, President Uhuru said he was saddened and heartbroken after receiving the news of the death of Hon Njonjo.
Uhuru said death of Njonjo was a big blow not only to his immediate family, friends and relatives but to all Kenyans and indeed, the entire African continent because of his leading role in the founding of the Kenyan nation at independence.
“As a nation, we owe a debt of gratitude to Hon. Njonjo and his generation of independence era leaders for their selfless contribution to the laying of the solid foundation upon which our country continues to thrive,’’ he said.
Uhuru said Kenya’s progressive constitutional and legal regime owes its robustness to Hon. Njonjo’s splendid work when he served as the country’s first post-independence Attorney General between 1963 and 1979, and as Constitutional Affairs Minister between 1980 and 1983.
Njonjo or the “Duke of Kabeteshire” as he was popularly known was the first Attorney General of Kenya serving between1963 to 1979 and later served as the Minister for Constitutional Affairs between 1980 and 1983 – at a time when he was Kabete MP.
After the death of former President Moi in February last year, the only two members of the independent Kenya’s first Cabinet are remaining – Njonjo and Duncan Ndegwa – former Head of Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet.
Njonjo as the country’s attorney general played a critical role in ensuring that Moi who was the vice president ascended to power following the death of the founding President Jomo Kenyatta in August 22, 1978.
He would later fall out with Moi in 1983 where Moi accused him of plotting to overthrow his government and a commission of inquiry was formed to probe him.
After the dramatic turn of events Njonjo dropped out of public scene and concentrated on managing his vast business empire.