'KANU calls upon Kenyans to look back into our history and recall that our party was born at a time of extreme political crisis and that it has since led this country steadfastly even at times of grave national anxiety. We have therefore been tested and proven dependable.'

President Daniel Moi
Kenya and KANU President 1978-Present

KANU FORMATION and the 1960s

1960: After the First Lancaster House Constitutional Conference the ban on nationwide African political parties was lifted. A leaders' conference was proposed for the March 27, 1960 at Kiambu. Ten of the African elected members signed a statement proposing the formation of the "Uhuru" Party of Kenya. The leaders' conference was attended by a majority of the members and delegates from thirty African political organizations, but primarily members and leaders of the Kenya Independence Movement and the old KAU. After some deliberations, they decided to form the Kenya African National Union (KANU). A committee comprising among others, Ronald Ngala, Dr. Gikonyo Kiano, Oginga Odinga, Argwings Kodhek, Tom Mboya with James Gichuru as chairman and Dr. Njoroge Mungai as Secretary, was appointed to draft KANU's constitution.

A meeting to elect national officials was held on May, 14 1960 in Kiambu. Gichuru was confirmed as Acting President, Oginga Odinga was elected Vice-president, Mboya -Secretary-General, and Arthur Ochwanda-Deputy Secretary General. Ronald Ngala and Daniel Arap Moi were elected in absentia as Treasurer and Deputy Treasurer, respectively. KANU was registered as a political society on June 11, 1960.

However, the Kiambu Conference and the formation of KANU did not command the full support of all African leaders. At about the same time in 1960 that KANU was formed, other political organizations were formed that represented the smaller tribes. These were Muliro's Kenya African People's Party, the Kalenjin Political Alliance led by Daniel Arap Moi and Taaita Towett, the Maasai United Front led by J. Ole Tips, the Cost African People's Party headed by Ronald Ngala, and the Somali National Association.

A network of alliances between these organizations, which felt their interest to be threatened, began to solidify into an opposition against KANU. At a meeting of these organizations' leaders in Ngong on June 25, 1960, the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) was formed, headed by Ronald Ngala. The new party was the culmination of the leaders' endeavors to eventually form a government of national unity.

The first meeting towards establishing the Kenya African National Union (KANU) was held in Kiambu on March 27, 1960. At the meeting a committee was formed to draft the first KANU. The committee included:

  • James Gichuru - as acting President
  • Dr. Njoroge Mungai - secretary
  • Ronald Ngala
  • Dr. Julius Gikonyo Kiano
  • Jaramogi Oginga Odinga
  • Argwings Kodhek
  • Tom Mboya, among others.

The second formative conference was held on May 14, 1960. At that conference the elected office bearers were:

  • Jomo Kenyatta - President (in absentia)
  • James Gichuru - Acting President
  • Oginga Odinga - Vice-president
  • Tom Mboya - General Secretary
  • Arthur Ochwanda - Deputy Secretary
  • Ronald Ngala - Treasurer (in absentia)
  • Daniel Arap Moi - Deputy Treasurer (in absentia)

Up until this point, there had been a large number of smaller political parties who in August 1960 decided to form a coalition party, the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) as a challenge to KANU.

1961-1963: The first multi-party election in Kenya in 1961 was primarily a contest between KANU and KADU and that KANU won by a landslide. KANU however chose not to form the first African government insisting that Jomo Kenyatta be released from prison first. Under Ronald Ngala as Prime Minister, KADU formed the first government.

The release of Jomo Kenyatta from prison toward the end of 1961 secured KANU's role in Kenya's political development. He was included in the KANU delegation to the Second Lancaster House Constitutional Conference for Kenyan 1962.

The KADU government with electoral and parliamentary minority support remained in power until June 1 1963 Jomo Kenyatta formed the first internal-self government. With him as prime minister, the government was:

--To maintain the proper historical context, all the brief biographies are up to 1963, when the first Independent cabinet was formed.

Jomo Kenyatta - Prime Minister

Born around 1890 in a small village in Central Kenya and educated at a Church of Scotland Mission near Nairobi. Mr. Kenyatta entered politics at an early age and in 1929, left for England as leader of a delegation making representations to the Colonial Office about land grievances. During his 15 years overseas he studied at the London School of Economics and formed contacts with many other African Politicians who became world figures.

On his return to Kenya he became president of the Kenya African Union. At the beginning of the Emergency, he and other leading nationalists were arrested and detained. Nine years later, he was freed from all restrictions to become president of KANU. After the elections in 1963, when KANU were victorious, he was sworn in as Kenya's first Prime Minister.

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga

Home Affairs

Born 1911. Educated at Maseno, Alliance High School. Makerere College. After a brief teaching career, founded the Luo Thrift and Trading Corporation. Mr. Odinga was a member of the Nyanza African District and the Sakwa location advisory councils from 1947 to 1949. Elected to the Legislative Council for Nyanza Central in 1957. Mr. Odinga by 1963, had been Vice-President of KANU since 1960.

Thomas J. Mboya

Justice and Constitutional Affairs

Born in 1930, Mr. Mboya was educated at Kabaa and Yala and completed his schooling a Mangu. After a brief period of employment with the Nairobi City Council he became secretary of the Kenya Local Government Workers Union and in 1953. General Secretary of the Kenya Federation of Labour. He was Minister of Labour in 1962. Elected to the House of Representatives for Nairobi Central in 1963. Mr. Mboya by 1963 has been Secretary General of KANU since 1960.

James S. Gichuru

Finance and Economic Planning

Born 1914. Educated at Church of Scotland Mission School, Alliance High School and Makerere College. From 1935 to 1940 taught at Alliance High School and was then headmaster of the Church of Scotland School, Dagoretti. Mr. Gichuru was President of KANU from 1960 but relinquished the office in favour of Mr. Kenyatta in 1961. Minister of Finance in 1961, he was elected unopposed for Limuru in 1963.

Joseph A. Murumbi

Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office

Born 1911. Educated in Bangalore and Bellary in South India. After returning to Kenya, worked for the Administration of Somalia from 1941 to 1951. Assistant Secretary of the Movement for Colonial Freedom from 1951 to 1957. Mr. Murumbi then became the Press and Tourist Officer in the Moroccan Embassy in London. In 1962, he joined KANU. He became the party's treasurer and was elected in 1963 to the House of Representative for Nairobi South

Mbiyu Koinange

Minister of State for Pan African Affairs

Born in 1907, Mr. Koinange was educated in Kenya, the United States and Britain. He obtained a BA degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and a MA at Columbia. He became principal at Kenya Teachers College, Githunguri from 1938 to 1947 and a representative of the Kenya African Union in Europe from 1951 to 1959. He was the Director of the Bureau of African Affairs in Ghana from 1959 to 1961. Mr. Koinange was elected member for Kiambaa in 1963. He was President of the Kenya African National Traders and Farmers Union.

Dr. Njoroge Mungai

Health and Housing

Born in 1926, Dr. Mungai was educated at the Alliance High School and Fort Hare University where he obtained a B.Sc. degree. He studied medicine and gained his BA and MD from Stanford University, USA. He ran a private clinic in Kenya from 1960-1963. A member of KANU's National Executive, Dr. Mungai was elected to the House of Representatives in 1963 as a member of Nairobi West. Dr. Mungai was the Prime Minister's personal physician.

Joseph D. Otiende


Born in 1917, Mr. Otiende was educated at Maseno, Alliance High School and Makerere University. He was a teacher at Kaimosi in 1937 and Alliance High School in 1945. He was the Executive Officer for the North Nyanza African District Council from 1949 to 1950. He continued to represent the Maragoli on the Council until 1955. Mr. Otiende was General Secretary of Kenya African Union from 1951 to 1952. Assistant Secretary for North Nyanza African District Council from 1955 to 1962. He became a member of the Legislative Assembly in 1962, and elected to the House of Representatives from Vihiga in 1963.

Bruce McKenzie


Born in in 1919, Mr. McKenzie completed his education at Hilton College, Natal before joining the South African Air Force in 1939. He farmed successfully in Nakuru area and played a prominent part in public life. Nominated to the Legislative Council in 1957 and became a specially elected member in 1958. Mr. McKenzie became the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Water Resources in 1959 and Lands and Settlement in 1962. In 1963, he became a Specially Elected Member in the House of Representatives.

Samuel O. Ayodo

Local Government

Born in 1931, Mr. Ayodo was educated at Kamagambo, Maseno and Makerere College. He gained a B.Sc. in Education at Union College, Nebraska, entering the teaching profession in 1956 at Kamagambo School. He represented South Nyanza in 1959 and again in 1961. In 1963 he returned for Kasipul/Kabondo in the House of Representatives.

Julius G. Kiano

Commerce and Industry

Born in 1926. Educated at Kagumo, Alliance High School, and Makerere. He obtained a BA degree in Economics in 1952 at Antioch College, Ohio and a MA in Political Science from Stanford University in 1953. He obtained a Ph.D. degree from California University in 1956. Member for Central Province South 1958. Minister for Commerce and Industry 1960 to 1961. Elected to the House of Representatives for Kangema in 1963.

Dawson Mwanyumba

Works, Communication and Power

Born in 1928. Educated Maynard Intermediate School, Alliance High School, Makerere College. Teacher in various schools in Coast Province before entering business in 1953. Elected Member for Taita/Taveta in 1961 and appointed Parliamentary Secretary to Ministry of Agriculture. Elected for Wundanyi in 1963. Chairman of Taita KANU branch in 1963.

Eluid Mwendwa

Labour and Social Services

Born in 1924. Educated at the African Inland Mission, Government African School, Kitui, Alliance High School and finally Kagumo Teacher Training College. Taught at Government African School, Kitui 1947 to 1952. Appointed head teacher at Matinyani DEB Intermediate in 1953. IN 1961 won a seat for Kitui. Minister for Health and Housing in 1963. Returned in 1963 to the House of Representatives for Kitui Central. In 1963, was chairman for KANU in Kitui.

Laurence Sagini

Natural Resources

Born in 1927. Educated at Kisii and Mangu. Obtained a Teachers diploma at Kangumo Training College, Nyeri. BA in Sociology and Political Science at Allegheny College, US. For nine years was a headmaster in Central and South Nyanza and then appointed Assistant Education Officer. KANU member for Kisii in 1961 and Minister for Education in 1962. Returned in 1963 for Kitui West.

Ramogi Ochieng Oneko

Information, Broadcasting and Tourism

Born in 1921. Educated at Maseno and ran the Luo newspaper, Ramogi from 1945 to 1948. Secretary, Luo Thrift and Trading Corporation from 1948 to 1951. Member of Nairobi Municipal Council 1949 and Secretary-General of the Kenya African Union in 1952. Personal Secretary to Mr. Jomo Kenyatta in 1961. Elected for Nakuru Town in the House of Representatives in 1963.

Jackson H. Angaine

Lands and Settlement

Born 1908. Attended Alliance High School and then obtained London Matriculation. Employed as an accountant and later became a leading figure in Meru district. Chairman of the Meru branch of KANU winning one of the Meru seats in 1961. Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Forests and Wildlife and then to Ministry of Education in 1962. Returned as a member for Meru West in 1963.

When Jomo Kenyatta formed the first internal self-government on June 1, 1963, he embarked on a crusade to convince all opposition party members to join KANU. He believed that,

'Our salvation lies in Unity. If you fight as one, our country will be free. All of us will be able to contribute to nation-building'.

This effort was intensified after full independence was won on December 12, 1963. He got his Vice-President, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, to campaign for the end of opposition parties and opposition policies. Odinga argued that the absorption of KADU into KANU would strengthen the party, and

"most important, would end disunity and tensions among the people so that our united national energies could be harnessed in the building of the country"



©2001 State House, Nairobi and Science and Engineering Research Center