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Early Life

Mwai Kibaki

Early Life

Mwai Kibaki was born in Gatuyaini village in Othaya on November 15, 1931.  He was the youngest in Kibaki Githinji and Teresia Wanjiku’s family. The young Mwai was often left in the care of his elder sister, Waitherero, as their mother busied herself in the garden. Born in a large peasant Kikuyu family, Mwai grew among his eight siblings.

 Like many of his colleagues, young Mwai spent most of his early childhood assisting in the family chores. Due to the patriarchal nature of the Kikuyu society, Mwai’s chores tended to incline towards outdoor activities such as tilling land and taking care of the family livestock. During this time Catholic missionaries had established their base in the nearby Karima Mission. They started going into the villages looking for boys to attend school.
Young Kibaki was nominated to join to the mission school by his polygamous father, as he was not doing much in the garden.

The Italian Consolata fathers had arrived in Nyeri in 1902 wanting to grow vines and olives on a 400 acre farm. When that failed they turned to education and arrived at Karima Mission in 1904 and started building schools, churches and dispensaries. It is one of these primary schools in 1939 a barefoot Mwai Kibaki left home for the newly established, 50 cent-a-term Gatuyaini village school.

In 1947, he joined Holy Ghost College (now Mang’u High school) for his secondary education. Mang’u was a prestigious secondary school started by Fr Michael Joseph Witts in Kabaa which is now situated along the Thika Superhighway. He was one of the brightest students with a maximum of six points at his “O” level examinations (Cambridge School Certificate examinations) by passing six subjects with Grade 1 distinction in 1950.

In 1951, Kibaki joined Makerere University College, Uganda where he studied Economics, History and Political Science between the years 1951 and 1954.Kibaki was one of the first students who graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Economics.Besides his studies at Makerere, Mwai Kibaki also took a keen interest in Student Politics and was ones elected the Chairman of the Kenya Students Association and the Vice Chairman of Makerere Students Guild (154-1955).

In 1961, Mwai Kibaki married the (late) Lucy Muthoni of Mukurwe-ini, Nyeri County. Lucy was a trained teacher with a sterling career at Kamwenja Teachers College and Kambui College. In 1963, however, she sacrificed her teaching career at Kambui College to focus on family life and support her husband’s budding political career.

The two had four children namely; Judy Wanjiku, Jimmy Kibaki, David Kagai and Tony Githinji. Mwai Kibaki is a staunch Catholic, where he was baptized Emilio Stanley by Italian missionaries, a name he rarely uses. As for hobbies, he loved golf, a sport that he embraced early as a young man. He has been a life member of the Muthaiga Golf Club.