February 22, 2012
John Njoroge Michuki was born 1932 at Muguru village, Iyego Location, Kangema Division in Murang’a County
His mother enrolled him at Muguru primary School in 1941 when he was 9 years old, a year after his father’s demise.
In 1943, just after two years of primary education, young Michuki dropped out of school due to lack of school fees.
He travelled to Nairobi where he worked briefly in tailoring-related jobs where he fixed buttons and made button holes for the uniforms of the Pioneer Corp Unit during the Second World War.
By the time the war ended, Michuki had relocated to Nyeri where he worked in the same capacity near the old police station, earning one Kenya shilling per day.
While in Nairobi, he also cooked for close and distant relatives quarantined by the colonial government as a result of small pox outbreak.
His formal education is scanty and has numerous gaps that are not consistent. For example, he is said to have returned to Nyeri after the Second World War which ended in1945. When he did that, he continued with his Nairobi trade near the Nyeri Police Station.
However the story line still talks of Michuki enrolling at Kiangunyi Primary School in 1945 where he sat for and passed his Kenya African Primary Education (KAPE) the same year!
In the colonial school system at the time, one needed to be in school for at least 8 years before sitting for KAPE. Yet earlier records only indicate that he was in class for only 2 years between 1941 and 1943.
After sitting for KAPE in 1945, Michuki is reported to have been admitted at Nyeri High School in 1947 leaving a gap of one year where there are no records of his whereabouts or what he was doing.
Assuming that he was in Nyeri from 1947, he could have only completed his Form Four in 1951 for him to join Mangu High School in 1952. Yet the records are silent when he joined Mangu where he met Emilio Mwai Kibaki and when he left Mangu.
Assuming that he joined Mangu in 1952 for A Levels, he could only have completed his studies at the end of 1953.
What then did Michuki do with his life between 1953 when he supposedly graduated from Mangu and 1961 when he got a scholarship to join Worcester College in London?
Yet the years 1953 to 1961 were the most tumultuous years in Kenyan politics when Mau Mau fighters were rounded up and tortured by colonialists and home guards. Did John Njoroge Michuki prove his zeal and ruthlessness in dealing with Mau Mau fighters before the colonial government rewarded him with a scholarship to Worcester College?
After a few years at Worcester College, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economics, Finance and Public Administration and came back just in time to join the new Kenyatta Administration in 1963 when Kenya attained independence.
Oral literature among the Agikuyu of the time seems to indicate that he got his ruthlessness and absolute faith in law and order under the colonial tutelage when as a young District Officer, he was assigned the task of flushing out Mau Mau fighters and eliminating them; a trait he employed in dealing with Mungiki followers later in his life as Internal Security Minister.
Michuki was one of the prominent and long-serving public servants and a successful businessman in Kenya. He served Kenya in various capacities, including serving as Executive Chairman of the Kenya Commercial Bank before being appointed Permanent Secretary in the Finance Ministry under Jomo Kenyatta. He later served as a Member of Parliament and cabinet Minister. He was elected four times as a Member of Parliament for Kangema constituency, the position he held until his death.
As a cabinet minister in the Kibaki regime, he had the reputation of a “ruthless” and efficient manager, who was widely acknowledged as among the best performing administrators in both the Kenyatta and Kibaki regimes.
John Njoroge Michuki was at the center of the coalition-making politics ahead of the historic 2002 elections.
He first joined a group of parliamentarians led by the then leader of Opposition, Mwai Kibaki, which formed the National Alliance Party of Kenya as a merger of smaller opposition parties that endorsed Kibaki as flag-bearer.
In October 2002, NAK coalesced with KANU rebels to form NARC, which dislodged KANU in that year’s general elections.
President Kibaki subsequently appointed him Minister of Transport and Communications following that election.
Michuki’s legacy as the Minister for Transport and Communications still lingers on a decade later. His "Michuki Rules" restored public order and sanity in the transport industry.
The rules which came into effect in February 2004 required all public transport vehicles to install speed governors, passenger safety belts, operate in clearly defined routes, ferry a specified number of passengers and their drivers and conductors to wear uniforms, name tags together with a clean security record. For his efforts, Michuki won the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights' Waziri award.
The defeat of the government in the 2005 constitution referendum saw Michuki appointed Minister for Internal Security and Provincial Administration in the subsequent reshuffle. In this capacity, he dealt ruthlessly with the Mungiki sect followers. He is believed to have authorized summary executions of at least 500 Mungiki followers.
He was appointed Minister for Roads and Public Works on January 8, 2008 following the controversial December 2007 presidential elections.
He would however serve this ministry for a short while then moved to the Environment Ministry on April 13 2008 when the Grand Coalition government was formed.
Later, he was appointed Acting Minister for Finance on July 11, 2008 when Amos Kimunya stepped aside following his censor by parliament over the Grand Regency Hotel sale to Libyans and the Safaricom IPO.
As Minister for Environment and Mineral Resources, he initiated diverse programmes and projects such as the Nairobi River Rehabilitation and Restoration Programme, the reclamation of five water towers in Mau Forest, Mount Kenya, Aberdare Range, Mount Elgon and Cherangany Hills.
Zindua Kiongozi Kenya