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Kenyatta: Candidate in the dock

As the son of Kenya’s founding father, Uhuru Kenyatta has the name, the wealth — and the burden that comes with his heritage.

BBC Online

Unlike his late father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Uhuru does not carry a fly-whisk as a mark of authority, instead he carries the heavy indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity committed after the previous elections, in 2007.

Many thought the ICC charges — which he denies — would destroy his bid for the presidency.

But on the contrary, it is fast becoming clear that the ICC has only helped to galvanise support for him and his running-mate, William Ruto, among those who see the charges as foreign interference in domestic matters.

Bizarrely, the two men are accused of organising attacks on each other’s supporters after the previous poll.

Their Jubilee coalition has united two of Kenya’s largest communities — the Kikuyu and Kalenjin, respectively — and so Kenyatta stands a reasonable chance of following in father’s footsteps and becoming president.

He is currently one of Kenya’s two deputy prime ministers and if he wins the March elections, Uhuru — a Swahili word for freedom — will make history on several fronts:

Born in October 1961, he will become Kenya’s youngest president.
He will have followed in his father’s footsteps to lead the country and become the second president in Africa to be indicted by the ICC after Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir.

As a child born to a rich and powerful family, Kenyatta went to one of the best schools in Nairobi before attending Amherst College in the US where he studied Political Science and Economics.

Kenyatta may not have a natural flair for public speaking, but he has a powerful voice and can be persuasive when fighting in his corner.
He has his mother to thank for ensuring that he mastered the local Kikuyu language, which helps him to connect with his countrymen in rural areas.

They love to call him njamba meaning hero.

Growing up, Kenyatta always shied away from politics and wanted to be seen as an ordinary person at ease with ordinary Kenyans.

In July 1990, together with four other sons of prominent politicians, he issued a statement urging the then-ruling party, Kenya African National Union (Kanu), to open up the political space.

Many in Kenya thought such a move would draw the wrath of then President Daniel arap Moi. Instead, the leader brought young Kenyatta closer and guided him into politics.

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