Family discloses cause of Charles Njonjo’s death as his body is cremated

Carey Ngini (right) son in law of the late Charles Njonjo and family members leave Kariakor crematorium after cremation ceremony on January 2, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

The body of former Attorney General Charles Njonjo who died on Sunday morning at the age of 101 was cremated at the Kariokor crematorium in Nairobi a few hours after his death.

The body was cremated in a private ceremony attended by close family members and a handful of guests.

Some of the few dignitaries who attended the ceremony that took place around 10:30 am included President Uhuru Kenyatta's brother Muhoho Kenyatta, constitutional expert Yash Pal Ghai, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki and Lawyer Paul Muite.

The late Njonjo’s son in law Mr Carey Ngini who briefed journalists at the crematorium in Nairobi said his body was cremated to fulfil his wishes.

“He was clear about what he wanted not just in life but even in death and part of the instructions was that he is accorded a private sendoff devoid of fanfare. He didn’t want a ceremony and what goes on with funerals of a person of his stature and so as a family, we have just fulfilled his wishes,” Mr Ngini said.

“He was a very special family man and a statesman and has left a rich legacy which is intact. He passed on peacefully surrounded by family members at his home in Nairobi moments past 5am on Sunday after suffering a bout of pneumonia which compromised his lungs.”

President Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga led Kenyans in mourning the late Njonjo whom they described as a “selfless leader”.

“As a nation, we owe a debt of gratitude to Hon. Njonjo and his generation of independence era leaders for their selfless contribution to the laying of the solid foundation upon which our country continues to thrive,” the President said.

Carey Ngini Son in law of the late Charles Njonjo addresses journalists at the Kariokor crematorium on January 2, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

The Head of State pointed out that the country’s progressive constitutional and legal regime owes its robustness to Mr Njonjo's “splendid work when he served as the country's first post-independence Attorney General between 1963 and 1979 and as Constitutional Affairs Minister between 1980 and 1983.”

Dr Ruto said the late Njonjo devoted his life to serving the country in pre and post-independent Kenya as a civil servant, Attorney-General, MP and Constitutional Affairs Minister as a “knowledgeable, blunt and a dedicated advocate for the causes he believed in.”

Sticking to the rules

“We will miss his wisdom, company and warmth. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Njonjo family, their loved ones and all those who knew and worked with him,” the DP said.

Mr Odinga described him as a “brilliant legal mind”.

“He qualifies as one of the critical founders of the Kenyan nation who helped lay a firm foundation for its institutions and the rule of law. More importantly, Charles was a great honest and trustworthy human being who fully embraced those he came into their lives,” Mr Odinga stated.

The cremation of Charles Njonjo at the Kariokor crematorium on January 2, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

“He had a great sense of humour and was legendry when it came to sticking to the rules, whether they were simple rules of life or those governing the country. His patriotism and belief in the law helped the country transition smoothly from the founding president Jomo Kenyatta to the second President Daniel arap Moi at a time of great uncertainty and political tension in the country. Our country was lucky to have him at the right place at the right time.”

The ODM leader noted that over the years, Mr Njonjo became his mentor and advisor to many upcoming and serving leaders.

“He saw it as his job to advance the next generation of Kenya’s leaders. I have personally benefitted immensely from his wisdom and experience. Above all, Charles is a testament to the resilience of Kenya as a nation and Kenyans as a people. He reminded us that life goes on; that politics is not the beginning and the end; that there are no permanent friends or foes; that there are very few things in political life worth dying for or prejudicing others about. He has passed on having made his peace with all,” he added.