NAIROBI: Charles Mugane Njonjo is the only surviving member of Kenya’s Independence Cabinet where he served as the Attorney General.
‘The Duke of Kabete’, as he is popularly known, turns 102 on January 23, next year.
In an interview five years ago, ‘Sir’ Njonjo revealed his secrets to long life when the average life expectancy in Kenyan had been pegged at 67 years by the UN’s World Health Organisation.
Turning 101 in January this year, Njonjo’s long life span has always been a subject of discussion among Kenyans who envies his monk-like dedication to happy healthy living.
“I look after myself. I swim daily, I used to do 12 laps, now I do only seven. I also have a bicycle which I ride for 10 minutes daily, on top of the treadmill which I do for 10 minutes daily,” he said speaking to journalist Jackson Biko.
Njonjo said in addition to physical exercises, he is mindful of his diet but admitted that in rare occasions he takes a bottle of beer which must strictly be a cider.
“I’m also careful about what I eat; I don’t eat nyama choma, I eat a lot of veggies,” he noted.
His preferred meal includes goat meat, which is cooked for close to three hours, in an oven. The meal is complemented with honey and a bottle of beer. For dessert, Njonjo opts for goat yogurt.
According to his son-in-law Volker Bassen, goat meat is cooked in an oven for close to three hours before it is served.
Bassen also said the old man’s meal is not complete without honey on the table. Also on his list of favourites is goat yoghurt dessert.
Last year, when he clocked 100 years the family flew out to Uganda to celebrate. After the celebration, he went on gorilla tracking at the expansive Mgahinga National Park in Uganda.
“I was at King’s College Budo and went there with King Freddie (Kabaka Edward Mutesa I). I am very fond of Uganda. I was lucky to see gorillas, two young ones and two big males,” Njonjo said at the time.
The Duke of Kabeteshire, as he is popularly known thanks to his English mannerisms, remains fit despite his age thanks to his frugal fitness regime and healthy eating habits.
Born in 1920 in Kabete, Njonjo attended Alliance High School, pre-university at Kings College, Bido in Uganda and later acquired two law degrees from Fort Hare University in South Africa and United Kingdom’s Lincoln’s Inn.
He joined the government in 1963 after he was appointed as the first black Attorney General by President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta to take over from A.M.F Webb, QC.
He later served as the Constitutional Affairs Minister in President Daniel Moi’s government before he resigned to vie for the Kikuyu parliamentary seat in 1983 where he was elected unopposed.
He remained a bachelor till the age of 52 after President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta insisted that he settles down, saying he felt uncomfortable taking legal advice from a bachelor.
The Alliance High School alumni is known for donning black striped suits worn with a fresh rosebud on his lapel with the inscription ‘CN’.
The former AG married Margaret Bryson in 1972 and has always defended his reason for marrying ‘late’, arguing that ‘he couldn’t find a girl to live with’.
Apart from politics, ‘Sir’ Njonjo is an astute businessman who commands respect in various industries such as agribusiness, insurance, finance and banking.
He is one of the wealthiest persons in Kiambu County and Kenya at large.
Njonjo boasts of a multibillion property having substantial shares in Sankara hotel, Nairobi. Reports indicate that his net worth is estimated to be above Ksh7 billion.