HISTORY AND EVOLUTION OF THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
SOME INTERESTING FACTS
Ministry of Defence Cabinet Ministers/Secretaries History
Magana Njoroge Mungai, M.D. EGH (January 7, 1926 – August 16, 2014) was a Kenyan Cabinet Minister, Member of Parliament, doctor, businessman, farmer, politician, nationalist and one of the founding fathers of the Republic of Kenya.
He was the minister for Internal Security and Defence during the year
Hon. Dr. Njoroge Mungai
In 1964, he presented a Bill for the House of Representatives to ratify the provision to establish the African Development Bank. After independence, Gichuru was also at the centre of talks between Kenyan and British officials on the take-over of one million acres of mixed farmland owned by Europeans to resettle landless Africans. Towards the end of the Kenyatta rule, Gichuru was the Minister for Defence. When Moi took over from Kenyatta, Gichuru retained the position.
But the minister developed health problems from the early 1970s and he even went for medical treatment abroad. In March, 1982, Njonjo castigated Gichuru’s opponents in his Limuru constituency for alleging that he was finished politically. Gichuru died in August 1982. Those who sent condolence messages had good things to say about Gichuru. Waiyaki, a Cabinet colleague, said: “Few men in the country are as honourable, brave and steadfast as Gichuru.”
Born in 1914 to pioneer Christians Samuel Gitau and Mariam Nyaguthii, James Samuel Gichuru was the first of nine children. His 90-year-old sister Hannah Wanjiku says that at a young age, Gichuru led a life different from boys his age, mostly because his parents were religious and put education ahead of traditional cultural activities.
“While tradition dictated that boys look after livestock, my parents, who were among the very first Christians in Thogoto, Kikuyu, insisted that Gichuru and my brothers and sisters attend school instead. Gichuru was a very obedient young man,” Wanjiku recalls.
Because of the relationship between his parents and missionaries, the man, who went on to become the first president of the Kenya African National Union (Kanu), went to school at the Church of Scotland Mission School, Kikuyu at five. He completed primary education and went to Alliance High School and completed secondary education at 16.
Gichuru proceeded for Makerere College for a diploma in teaching. He returned to teach at Alliance, whose teaching staff was then exclusively white, between 1935 and 1940. He was then the headmaster of Church of Scotland School at Dagoretti. The other pioneer African teacher at Alliance was J.D. Otiende, who became a minister in the first independent Cabinet.
Hon. Amb. Julius L. Ole Sunkuli, EGH, EBS
Julius Lekakeny Sunkuli is a Kenyan politician. He previously represented the Kilgoris Constituency in the National Assembly of Kenya in between 1997-2002. He also served as Minister in the Kenyan Government and was recently Kenya’s envoy to China, prior to resigning to the Narok County senator’s seat in the 2013 general election
Hon Christopher Ndarathi Murungaru
Minister of State for Provincial Administration & National Security
Hon. James Njenga Karume
Kenyan Minister of Defense, The Hon. Njenga Karume led a contingent of distinguished visitors including senior officers from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and The United States of America at Natural Fire Opening Ceremonies.
Hon. Mohamed Yusuf Haji
Mohamed Yusuf Haji is a Kenyan politician.
He was the Minister of Defence of Kenya from 2008 to 2013, and briefly served as its acting Minister of Internal Security and Provincial Affairs in 2012.
He has served in the Senate of Kenya since 2013.
Ambassador Raychelle Omamo SC, EGH
Ambassador Raychelle Awuor Omamo is the current Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya. Prior to her appointment she served as Cabinet Secretary of Defence and Chairperson of the Defence Council between April, 2013 and January, 2020.
Ambassador Omamo is a lawyer by profession having received her training at the University of Kent at Canterbury in the United Kingdom and at the Kenya School of Law. She is a Senior Counsel and as a practitioner was elected Chairperson of the Law Society of Kenya and the Vice President of the East Africa Law Society. She was also the recipient of the ICJ (K) Jurist of Year award in 2002.
Ambassador Omamo has served on a number of Kenya Government taskforces and commissions related to the advancement of the rule of law such as the Task Force on Landlord and Tenant Law; the Task Force on the Establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and as Counsel to the Ndung’u Commission.
In her free time, Ambassador Omamo is an enthusiastic birdwatcher and also enjoys water colour painting and crosswords.
Ministry of Defence Chief of the Defence Forces (CDF) History
General Bernard Penfold (1966-1969)
Major-General Robert Bernard Penfold CB LVO was a British Army officer who commanded South East District.
Major General Bernard Penfold, who has died aged 98, had an adventurous career in the Army and then played a leading part in an ambitious project to provide Hong Kong with a new racecourse from reclaimed land.
On retiring from the Army in 1972, Penfold became the first general manager of the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club (RHKJC). Racing played an important role in the social life of the metropolis but the track at Happy Valley was cramped and lacked the facilities essential for a top-rate international venue.
In 1974, under Penfold’s leadership, work began to construct a course on a purpose-built site at Sha Tin in the New Territories. Millions of tons of soil were moved to 260 acres of land reclaimed from the Shing Mun River Channel.
That it was finished on time in 1978 was largely due to his vision and drive. It has a capacity of 80,000 and is home to some of the world’s top thoroughbreds. Penfold Park, in the centre of the course, was laid out to his design and was named in his honour.
Robert Bernard Penfold was born on December 19 1916 at St Neots, Cambridgeshire, and was educated at Wellington College and Sandhurst. Always known as Bernard, he was commissioned into the 1st Battalion The Leicestershire Regiment in 1936 before transferring to the Indian Army.
He saw service on the North West Frontier with the 11th Sikh Regiment and, after the outbreak of war, transferred to the Central Mediterranean Forces. He commanded a company of the 2nd Battalion in the western desert before serving as a staff officer with Persia & Iraq Force.
In 1944, he returned to 2/11 Sikhs in Greece. He then instructed at Staff College, Quetta, and, after partition, transferred to the British Army. A posting as deputy director of training and personnel at the War Office was followed by a return to regimental duties as a battery commander with 23rd Field Regiment Royal Artillery.
In 1957, Penfold moved to the Military Mission at Washington DC. For his service as GSO1, he was appointed LVO at the end of his tour. Command of 6th Battalion King’s African Rifles in Tanganyika followed in 1959. He took great trouble to understand the history of the people of Tanganyika and, in particular, the tensions that could arise if the tribal components of the battalion became unbalanced. To the Askari, Penfold was Bwana Kali (Colonel Fierce) .
In 1964, he was promoted to brigadier and posted to Aden as security adviser during the Radfan campaign. Two years later, President Jomo Kenyatta appointed him chief of staff of the Kenya Defence Forces. He was appointed CB in 1969.
Penfold went on to be GOC South East District before retiring from the Army in 1972 in the rank of major-general. The following year, at the outset of his stewardship at the RHKJC, racing at night began at Happy Valley and new betting products were introduced to put an end to illegal bookmaking. The club, which was granted a royal charter in 1959, reverted to its original name after the transfer of sovereignty in 1997.
In 1977, Ocean Park, a leisure facility, opened to the public. It was Penfold’s other major project . He returned from Hong Kong to England in 1980 . He settled in Hampshire, where he was a passionate golfer and gardener.
Robert Penfold married, in 1940, Ursula Gray, the daughter of an officer in the Punjab Regiment. She predeceased him and he is survived by their two daughters.
Major General Bernard Penfold, born December 19 1916, died April 22 2015
Maj-Gen Joseph Ndolo
Maj-Gen Joseph Ndolo, the first African to head the military, lasted only two years as Chief of General Staff. His reign was abruptly brought to an end after the 1971 coup attempt. He died in 1984.
Born in 1919, Maj-Gen Ndolo quickly rose through the ranks to become the first Kenyan head of the armed forces.
He had been recruited into the King’s African Rifles, and was a high-ranking officer within the newly established Kenya Army at independence.
When Ndolo was appointed Army Commander in 1966, the newly created position of Chief of Defence Staff was held by Major-General Penfold, a British officer.
Ndolo’s rise to the top was linked to the 1964 Lanet Mutiny. The mutineers had demanded, among other things, the Africanisation of the top echelons of the military.
Gen Jackson Mulinge (1971-1986)
Gen Jackson Mulinge served as the military chief for 15 years. The general, whose military education was entirely British, was the first Kenyan to receive the Queen’s commission in 1961.
Gen Mulinge was the first to hold the post of Chief of General Staff (today called Chief of Defence Forces) in 1978 and was the first to become a four-star general in 1980.
As Chief of General Staff, he helped quash the 1982 coup attempt to overthrow President Daniel arap Moi.
On leaving the military, he got elected Kathiani MP and later joined the Cabinet, variously as Land and Health minister.
He died in 2014 aged 91.
General Mohamud Haji Mohamed Barrow
As deputy army commander, Mahmoud Mohammed led the operation that crushed the 1982 coup attempt, changing the course of Kenya’s history. Recapturing Voice of Kenya, the national broadcaster, from rebel soldiers was a major step in suffocating the coup plotters.
A soldier with modest education, he started his career as an infantryman private, the army’s lowest rank, and rose through the ranks to head the military. No other man has achieved such a feat in the history of Kenya’s military. His academic credentials are the lowest compared to other generals, but his contribution as the head of the military was significant.
Today, he runs businesses in Garissa and Nairobi.
Gen (Rtd) Daudi Tonje
Gen (Rtd) Daudi Tonje, one of the celebrated KDF officers, carried out a revolution in the military. During his tenure, there was the highest number of reforms that included the disbandment of the Women Service Corps, leading to the inclusion of women in the mainstream military ranks, establishment of the Defence Staff College and the Defence Forces Medical Insurance Scheme. General Tonje also introduced term limits for military officers.
It is Gen Tonje who ended the pay parades in which soldiers had to line up when receiving salaries. Instead, he introduced the payment of salaries through bank accounts.
In 1962, he was enlisted to the army and trained as a cadet at Hifford Barracks, Lanet, then as the first direct-entry African cadet.
After his training, he was posted to the 11th KAR battalion, which was disbanded in 1964 after some soldiers staged a mutiny over poor pay for African soldiers.
Gen Tonje is a goat farmer at his countryside home in Baringo County.
Gen (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana
Gen (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana was in the first batch of 10 African officers and servicemen recruited to the Navy in 1964. The officers were sent to the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, UK, for studies.
In 2000, he became the first Navy officer to occupy the office of the Chief of General Staff.
He oversaw the smooth transition of power from President Moi’s Kanu regime to triumphant opposition Narc candidate Mwai Kibaki after the 2002 General Election.
Gen (Rtd) Kibwana is the Kenya Ports Authority board chairman.
Gen (Rtd) Jeremiah Kianga
General Jeremiah Mutinda Kianga ‘EGH’ ‘CBS’ ‘ndc’ (K) ‘cgsc'(USA), was born on 26 April 1950 in Makueni District. He went to Machakos Secondary School which he completed in 1970. He joined the military in April 1971 and after two years cadet training at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, he was commissioned and posted to the 5th Kenya Rifles as a Platoon Commander in 1973 where he did regimental duty up to 1975.
General Kianga has been trained in Kenya, the United Kingdom (UK), India and the United States of America, where he obtained a Masters degree in Military Arts and Science from Kansas University.
He served on the Directing Staff at the Army Staff College, UK and Defence Staff College Kenya. He also served as Defence Advisor in Uganda and Chief of Military Intelligence at Defence headquarters. In December 1999, as a Major General, he was appointed General Officer Commanding Eastern Command then Deputy Army Commander and thereafter served as Assistant Chief of General Staff-in-charge of Personnel and Logistics at Defence Heaquarters.
On March 2003 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and appointed Commander, Kenya Army from where he has been promoted to General and appointed CGS, taking over from General (Retired) J R E Kibwana.
Gen (Rtd) Jeremiah Kianga, who was considered a strict disciplinarian and a general introduced the bachelor’s degree in military science for all officers.
The degree, which started in collaboration with Egerton University for all military officers, was part of the Defence Forces Continuous Education Programme. It was later taken over by Kenyatta University.
General Jeremiah Mutinda Kianga retired on August 12th 2011 after over 40 years of soldiering.
He is the chairman of Kenya Railways Corporation.
Gen Julius Waweru Karangi (2011-to 2015)
Gen (Rtd) Julius Waweru Karangi will be remembered as the Chief of Defence Forces who led Kenyan troops to war, the first time in the country’s history.
Under his command, the KDF was deployed in October 2011 to fight Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia who had been making cross-border attacks. “Gen Karangi is probably the most extraordinary man I have ever met. A general who led Kenya successfully into battle,” The then Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo praised the retired General during his handing-over ceremony.
He joined Kenya Air Force in 1973 and after Cadet training in UK, he was commissioned as an officer in 1974.
After qualifying as a Flight Navigator in October 1975 in the Royal Air Force in England, he was posted to Flying Wing Kenya Air Force where he worked as a Navigator.
In 1995 he became Commander of Kenya Air Force Base, Moi Air Base and then in 1997, he was appointed Commander of the Kenya Air Force Logistics Command.
In 2000to 2003 he was promoted to the position of Commandant Defence Staff College, Karen rank of Major General, after which he was appointed before he was made Commander of the Kenya Air-force between 2003-2005
In August 2005, Karangi was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and Vice Chief of Defence Forces, Defence Headquarters.
And then On 13 July 2011 he was promoted to the rank of General and appointed the position of Chief of Defence Forces.
Gen (Rtd) Karangi is the chairman of the National Social Security Fund board of trustees
General (RTD) Samson Mwathethe
He was born in the coastal town of Malindi, Kilifi County, in 1958 . He attended Shimo la Tewa Primary School, in Malindi and Sacret Heart High School, in Mombasa.
In 1978, he joined the Kenya Navy and was sent to the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Devon, United Kingdom (UK). After graduation, he was commissioned as a Seaman, in 1980.
Over the years, Samson Mwathethe has undertaken courses at national and international institutions, including (a) an International Sub-Lieutenants Course in the UK (b) an International Principal Warfare Ordinance Course (IPWO), in the UK (c) a Missiles Study Course in Italy (d) a course at Royal Naval College, Greenwich (e) a Defence Resource Management Course at the Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California, United States and (f) a course at the National Defence College, Kenya
In 1991, he served as a United Nations military observer in Kuwait/Iraq and in Yugoslavia, the following year. He is a decorated military officer with the Distinguished Conduct Order (DCO) and Moran of the Burning Spear (MBS) medals