Kibaki’s ‘inadequacy’ in the farm landed him in the classroom

May 11, 2016 10:37 am
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Kibaki, like the rest of Kenyan children had to feed on bolus – traditional way of feeding babies/FILE
Kibaki, like the rest of Kenyan children had to feed on bolus – traditional way of feeding babies/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 10 – Some renowned world leaders or successful people have untold stories of their struggles during their humble beginnings.

Some of them were not even brought up -they grew up like the way trees sprout from thick and wild bushes to grow to be the tallest in the forest.

And this is the story of Kenya’s third President Mwai Kibaki.

He had no chances of being ‘discovered’ from his tiny village tucked in remote Othaya in the 1930s.

He grew above poverty – from the very dirt poor – in the most unexpected manner.

It was early in the morning of November 15, 1931, when a boy was born in Gatuyaini village in Othaya.

There was nothing unique about the baby boy born to a family with seven siblings.

More so, it was a struggling family of a polygamous father who depended on subsistence farming.

While parents worked in the farm, children were left under the care of older siblings.

In the usual culture and in those decades, John Githinji Kibaki and his wife Teresia Wanjiku left young Kibaki in the care of his elder sister, Waitherero.

Those years, blenders were alien.

Kibaki, like the rest of Kenyan children had to feed on bolus – traditional way of feeding babies.

Mothers would chew hard foods – usually roasted – mix them with their saliva to soften, and then feed their babies from their mouth directly to the baby’s mouth.

“Kibaki usually fed on roast bananas. I would chew the bananas to a bolus, and then feed him,” Kibaki’s elder sister recounted.

Growing up as a young boy in the village, Kibaki recalled his fun-filled childhood.

“I enjoyed playing with other boys in our neighbourhood while rearing cows and goats or while chasing after antelopes in the woods,” Kibaki recounted.

In those days, older children would ‘help hew wood, till the garden, milk the cows and take them to graze.’

Unlike the rest of his siblings – Kibaki was not as ‘useful in the garden.’

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