Emilio Stanley Mwai Kibaki, C.G.H. (born 15 November 1931) is a Kenyan politician who was the third President of Kenya, serving from December 2002 until April 2013.
Spouse(s) Lucy Kibaki(m. 1961; died 2016)
Residence Official: Nairobi, Holiday: Mweiga
Alma mater Makerere University
London School of Economics
Profession Lecturer, Politician
Nickname(s) Ubako, Baks, Senje
He had previously served as the fourth Vice-President of Kenya for ten years from 1978 to 1988 under President Daniel arap Moi. He also held cabinet ministerial positions in the Kenyatta and Moi governments, including time as minister for Finance (1969–1981) under Kenyatta, and Minister for Home Affairs (1982–1988) and Minister for Health (1988–1991) under Moi.
Kibaki served as an opposition Member of Parliament from 1992 to 2002. He unsuccessfully vied for the presidency in 1992 and 1997. He served as the Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament from 1998 to 2002. In the 2002 presidential election, he was elected as President of Kenya.
Early life and education
Kibaki was born in 1931 in Thunguri village, Othaya division of Kenya’s then Nyeri District, now Nyeri County. He is the youngest son of Kikuyu peasants Kibaki Gĩthĩnji and Teresia Wanjikũ. Though baptised as Emilio Stanley by Italian missionaries in his youth, he has been known as Mwai Kibaki throughout his public life.
Family oral history maintains that his early education was made possible by his much older brother-in-law, Paul Muruthi, who insisted that young Mwai should go to school instead of spending his days grazing his father’s sheep and cattle and baby-sitting his little nephews and nieces for his older sister. Kibaki turned out to be an exemplary student. He attended Gatuyainĩ School for the first two years, where he completed what was then called Sub “A” and sub “B” (the equivalent of standard one and two or first and second grade). He later joined Karima mission school for the three more classes of primary school. He later moved to Mathari School (now Nyeri High School) between 1944 and 1946 for Standard four to six, where, in addition to his academic studies, he learnt carpentry and masonry as students would repair furniture and provide material for maintaining the school’s buildings. He also grew his own food as all students in the school were expected to do, and earned extra money during the school holidays by working as a conductor on buses operated by the defunct Othaya African Bus Union. After Karima Primary and Nyeri Boarding primary schools, he proceeded to Mang’u High School where he studied between 1947 and 1950. He passed with a maximum of six points in his “O” level examination by passing six subjects with Grade 1 Distinction.
Influenced by the veterans of the First and Second World Wars in his native village, Kibaki considered becoming a soldier in his final year in Mang’u. However, a ruling by the Chief colonial secretary, Walter Coutts, which barred the recruitment of the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru communities into the army, put paid to his military aspirations. Kibaki instead attended Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, where he studied Economics, History and Political Science, and graduated best in his class in 1955 with a First Class Honours Degree (BA) in Economics.
Afterhis graduation, Kibaki took up an appointment as Assistant Sales Manager Shell Company of East Africa, Uganda Division. During the same year, he earned a scholarship entitling him to postgraduate studies in any British University. He consequently enrolled at the prestigious London School of Economics for a BSc in public finance, graduating with a distinction. He went back to Makerere in 1958 where he taught as an Assistant Lecturer in the economics department until 1961. In 1961, Kibaki married Lucy Muthoni, the daughter of a church minister, who was then a secondary school head teacher.
Political career prior to presidency
In early 1960, Mwai Kibaki left academia for active politics by giving up his job at Makerere and returning to Kenya to become an executive officer of Kenya African National Union (KANU), at the request of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga (who went on to become Kenya’s first Vice President). Kibaki then helped to draft Kenya’s independence constitution.
In 1963, Kibaki was elected as Member of Parliament for Donholm Constituency (subsequently called Bahati and now known as Makadara) in Nairobi. His election was the start of a long political career.
In 1963 Kibaki was appointed the Permanent Secretary for the Treasury. Appointed Assistant Minister of Finance and chairman of the Economic Planning Commission in 1963, he was promoted to Minister of Commerce and Industry in 1966.
In1969, he became Minister of Finance and Economic Planning where he served until 1982.
In 1974, Kibaki, facing serious competition for his Donholm Constituency seat from a Mrs. Jael Mbogo, whom he had only narrowly and controversially beaten for the seat in the 1969 elections, moved his political base from Nairobi to his rural home, Othaya, where he was subsequently elected as Member of Parliament. The same year Time magazine rated him among the top 100 people in the world who had the potential to lead. He has been re-elected Member of Parliament for Othaya in the subsequent elections of 1979, 1983, 1988, 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2007.
When Daniel arap Moi succeeded Jomo Kenyatta as President of Kenya in 1978, Kibaki was elevated to Vice Presidency, and kept the Finance portfolio until Moi changed his ministerial portfolio from Finance to Home Affairs in 1982. When Kibaki was the minister of Finance Kenya enjoyed a period of relative prosperity, fueled by a commodities boom, especially coffee, with remarkable fiscal discipline and sound monetary policies.
Kibaki fell out of favor with President Moi in March 1988, and was dropped as vice president and moved to the Ministry of Health.
Heseemingly took the demotion in his stride without much ado.
Kibaki’s political style during these years was described as gentlemanly and non-confrontational. This style exposed him to criticism that he was a spineless, or even cowardly, politician who never took a stand: according to one joke, “He never saw a fence he didn’t sit on”.
He also, as the political circumstances of the time dictated, projected himself as a loyal stalwart of the ruling single party, KANU. In the months before multi-party politics were introduced in 1992, he infamously declared that agitating for multi-party democracy and trying to dislodge KANU from power was like “trying to cut down a fig tree with a razor blade”.
It was therefore with great surprise that the country received the news of Kibaki’s resignation from government and leaving KANU on Christmas Day in December 1991, only days after the repeal of Section 2A of the Constitution, which restored the multi-party system of government. Soon after his resignation, Kibaki founded the Democratic Party (DP) and entered the presidential race in the upcoming multi-party elections of 1992. He was criticized as a “johnny come lately” opportunist who, unlike his two main opposition presidential election opponents in that year, Kenneth Matiba and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, was taking advantage of multiparty despite not having fought for it.
Kibaki came third in the subsequent presidential elections of 1992, when the divided opposition lost to president Moi and KANU despite having received more than two-thirds of the vote. He then came second to Moi in the 1997 elections, when again, Moi beat a divided opposition to retain the presidency. In January 1998, Kibaki became the leader of the official opposition with the Democratic Party being the office.