BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 14:57 GMT
Kenyatta son ascends to cabinet
Kenya's first President Jomo Kenyatta
Uhuru Kenyatta's father is still revered in Kenya
Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has awarded a cabinet seat to the son of founding president Jomo Kenyatta.

Kenyan queue to vote at the last election
Speculation is rife as the elections loom
Uhuru Kenyatta was named local government minister in a cabinet reshuffe amid intensifying political manoeuvring ahead of next year's elections.

In the other significant cabinet change, Chris Okemo was replaced in the Treasury by Chris Obure from Foreign Affairs.

Correspondents see the move as an attempt by President Moi to get a more diplomatic minister to front negotiations with the World Bank and IMF in a bid to convince them to release funds that they have been withholding for the past 10 years.

Impeccable credentials

Mr Kenyatta, 40, is widely viewed as one of the so-called 'Young Turks' vying for leadership of Moi's ruling Kenya African National Union (Kanu) party.

Observers say President Moi is aiming to rejuvenate Kanu before he is obliged to step down and make way for polls by the end of 2002.

Mr Kenyatta's ascension to the cabinet comes only weeks after he was appointed by President Moi to a reserved seat in parliament.

According to a revamped Kenyan constitution, President Moi is supposed to stand down at the end of his second-five year term.

Uhuru Kenyatta
Born: 28 Oct 61
Educated: St Mary's School, Nairobi and Amherst College, Massachussets
1980s - Kanu fundraiser
1990 - Supported multi-party dialogue
1997 - Failed to win seat in general election
October 2001 - Appointed MP
November 2001 - Appointed minister
The 78-year-old has now been head of state for more than 20 years and every move by Mr Moi is scrutinised closely for hints as to a possible successor.

But of all the MPs tipped to succeed the president, none has Mr Kenyatta's political pedigree.

His father, Jomo Kenyatta, ruled Kenya from independence in 1963 until his death in 1978 and is still revered as modern Kenya's founding father.

Uhuru - the name means 'freedom' in Swahili - was born in 1961 just weeks after his father was released from British imprisonment.

From fundraiser to favoured son

The young Kenyatta grew up in an intensely political climate, and seemed from a young age to be laying the groundwork for a political career.

He was an active fundraiser for Kanu in the 1980s, based at the family's tea estate in Kiambu district near the capital, Nairobi.

President Daniel arap Moi
Moi is supposed to step down next year
But he only joined political debate in 1990 when he and four other sons of prominent Kenyans issued a statement calling for dialogue between government and advocates of political pluralism.

President Moi was reportedly outraged and demanded to know if the young Mr Kenyatta had joined the opposition, which he is known to have considered.

But Kanu was keen to bring the young politician into the fold and worked hard to retain his loyalty.

He finally contested the 1997 general election for Kanu, but failed to win the seat in his father's old Gatundu constituency.

He was then installed as Kanu chairman in Thika district and has moved closer to President Moi ever since, appointed chairman of both the Kenya Tourism Board and the National Disaster Relief Fund.

In his latest upward move, he replaced Joseph Kamotho - Kanu's secretary-general - who was moved to the ministry of the environment.

His rise has been slow, but now appears ever more steady.

But as any number of favoured sons before will testify, one can rapidly fall from grace in Mr Moi's court.

See also:

22 Oct 01 | Africa
Moi's comments create a stir
14 Jun 01 | Africa
Kenya's 'most important man'
02 Jul 01 | Africa
Kenya ponders HIV hanging call
10 Jul 00 | Africa
Campaign to keep Moi in power
13 Sep 99 | Africa
Poll says Moi should go in 2002
03 Sep 01 | Africa
Dividing Kenya along ethnic lines
07 Aug 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Kenya
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories