Jomo Kenyatta was the first president of Kenya. He was devoted nationalist who was a staunch protector of Western political and economic interests in Kenya. Kenyatta was widely regarded as a stabilizing force in Kenya.
Kenyatta was born probably on October 20, 1891, at Ichaweri in British East Africa (now Kenya). A member of the Kikuyu tribe, he was named Kamau wa Ngengi. Educated at the Church of Scotland Mission at Kikuyu and baptized a Christian, he worked as a government clerk in Nairobi. Where in 1922 he joined a political protest movement. By 1928, as secretary of the Kikuyu Central Association, he was chief advocate for Kikuyu land rights. From 1931 to 1946 he worked and studied in Western Europe and Moscow. While in London, Kenyatta studied under the British anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski and wrote his influential book Facing Mount Kenya (1938).
On returning to Africa, Kenyatta was elected president of the new Kenya African Union (later, Kenya African National Union, or KANU). In 1952 he was charged with leading the Mau Mau Rebellion against the British, and, despite his denials, he was sentenced to seven years in prison and two years in exile. Released in 1961, he assumed the presidency of KANU. In 1963, when Kenya gained independence, Kenyatta became prime minister. He was elected president of the new Republic of Kenya in 1964 and held that post until his death in Mombasa on August 22, 1978.