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Kenyatta, Jomo(jō`mō kĕnyä`tə), 1893?–1978, African political leader, first president of Kenya (1964–78). A Kikuyu, he was one of the earliest and best-known African nationalist leaders. As secretary of his tribal association (1928), he campaigned for land reform and African political rights. In England he collaborated with other African nationalist students and founded (1946), with Kwame Nkrumah, the Pan-African Federation. Returning (1946) to Kenya, he became president of the Kenya African Union. In 1953, during the Mau MauMau Mau
, secret insurgent organization in Kenya, comprising mainly Kikuyu tribespeople. They were bound by oath to force the expulsion of white settlers from Kenya. In 1952 the Mau Mau began reprisals against the Europeans, especially in the "white highlands," claimed as Kikuyu
..... Click the link for more information. uprising, Kenyatta was imprisoned by the British as one of its instigators, then sent to internal exile (1959). Kenyatta was elected president of the newly founded (1960) Kenya African National Union while in exile. Released in 1961, he participated in negotiations with the British to write a new constitution for Kenya, which became independent in 1963. Kenya became a republic in 1964 with Kenyatta as president. Influential throughout Africa, Kenyatta was intolerant of dissent in Kenya, outlawing some opposition parties in 1969 and establishing a one-party state in 1974. The stability resulting from his leadership attracted foreign investment. He followed a nonaligned foreign policy and died in office. He wrote Facing Mount Kenya (1938) and Suffering without Bitterness (1968).
See biography by J. Murray-Brown (1972).
Born c. 1893, in the small town of Ichaweri, Kenya. Kenyan statesman and politician. Member of the Kikuyu tribe.
Kenyatta graduated from a mission primary school. He entered politics in the early 1920’s and several years later was elected general secretary of the Kikuyu Central Association, one of the first Kenyan political organizations. Between 1931 and 1946 he studied and worked in Great Britain. On returning to Kenya he became active in the national liberation movement. In 1947 he headed the Kenya African Union. In 1952 he was arrested by the English colonial authorities on the charge of having organized and led the Mau Mau, a religious and political movement, and was sentenced to a seven-year imprisonment. After completing his sentence, he was exiled to northern Kenya. In 1960, while still in exile, he was elected president of the Kenya African National Union. Returning from exile in 1961, he served as prime minister of the first national government of Kenya from June to December 1963. Upon Kenya’s independence in December 1963, he became prime minister, and he has served as president of Kenya since its proclamation as a republic in December 1964. Kenyatta is the author of several works denouncing English colonial policy in Kenya.