Mama Ngina Kenyatta

Mama Ngina Kenyatta (born Ngina Muhoho) is Kenya’s earliest First Lady and the widow of the late founding father of Kenya, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. She and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta had four children, among them Kenya’s fourth President. This makes her the only woman in history to have been wife to a President and later mother to another.

Her children are: Kristina Wambui born in 1952, Uhuru Muigai (1961), Anna Nyokabi (1963) and Muhoho Kenyatta (1964). Mama Ngina married Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in 1951 when she was only 18; she was his fourth wife and is currently the only surviving spouse of the late President.

Born in 1933 in Gatundu, Kiambu County, Mama Ngina is the daughter of Senior Chief Muhoho Gathecha. She was among those arrested and incarcerated at the Kamiti Maximum Prison for five years for her role in Kenya’s fight for freedom. This was after her husband had been shipped away to Kapenguria by the colonial government. It is believed that upon her release from prison she found her Gatundu home demolished. She is said to have had no choice but to adjust to village life.

At Independence in 1963, she acquired a new title: Mama wa Taifa (Mother of the Nation). She later came to be referred to as Mama Ngina Kenyatta. Around this time, in 1965, she took on the role of patron of the Kenya Girl Guides Association. She is remembered as always having been present at the President’s side during public functions. After Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s death in August 1978, Mama Ngina retreated to a quiet life away from the limelight, seldom making public appearances. Mama Ngina is widely considered to be an astute business woman. Her business acumen is believed to be behind the success of the Kenyatta family’s flourishing empire.

There are two streets named after Mama Ngina, one in Nairobi and one in Mombasa. In addition, there are two institutions bearing her name: one a secondary school and the other a children’s home. Moi University is in the process of putting up a campus in Gatundu South that will be named Mama Ngina University College.

The media-shy former First Lady is believed to be extremely wealthy, with businesses in various industries ranging from agriculture, real estate to hospitality. A devout Roman Catholic and a regular church attendee, she is said to wield a great deal of influence over her son’s political career.

In 2016, The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) lauded Mama Ngina, together with former First Ladies Miria Obote (Uganda) and Maria Nyerere (Tanzania), for their role in the formation of the first East African Community (EAC).

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