Wairimu Njonjo (left) with her parents Charles and Margaret Njonjo at her wedding in 2009 at the All saints Cathedral, Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Why Njonjo believed he got family life right

What you need to know:

  • The former AG has managed to keep the social side of his life away from prying eyes.
  • Firstborn Wairimu Njonjo became a lawyer just like her father while the others chose careers in the sciences.

Choosing to settle down at 52 is one of the more interesting decisions made by former Attorney- General Charles Njonjo on family life.

While his public life in the civil service is known to most, he has managed to keep the social side away from prying eyes, quite a feat for a man who was a cog in Kenya's politics in the 70s and 80s before his fallout with the former president Daniel arap Moi.

He married Margaret Bryson in 1972 in a lavish wedding attended by Kenya's top leaders including President Jomo Kenyatta. The couple then went on to have three children, who are all grown up.

Their firstborn, Wairimu Njonjo, became a lawyer just like her father while the others chose careers in the sciences.

At a time when 18 was more than old enough to marry, he settled down in his 50s, saying it was because he “couldn’t find a girl I could live with”, according to a Business Daily interview in 2016.

“It took me a long time but, eventually, I found one and I married her at All Saints' Cathedral,” he said.

“She was in the choir.”

Details of the lives of the Njonjo children are scanty. Only scraps are available about Wairimu, the firstborn, who has had a few media interviews before. There's barely a trace about Mary Wambui and Josiah David.

Speaking to a local publication in 2010, Wairimu said she ditched her law career, which she had been practising in the United Kingdom, to pursue her interest in being a marine conservationist, especially working towards saving the endangered whale shark.

By then she had got a Master’s in law and was practising as a criminal lawyer.

Wairimu’s husband is Bassen Volker, who made headlines last year when a car carrying a woman and her daughter plunged into the Indian Ocean at the Likoni ferry crossway.

Mr Volker, who was born in Germany and grew up in Sweden, addressed the media saying he could locate the sunken car in 15 minutes.

He would later apologise, saying he underestimated the conditions before leaving the rescue task to the Kenya Navy.

Mr Volker married Mr Njonjo's daughter after saving her from a boat accident along the Kenyan coast that nearly cost Wairimu her life.

They wedded in 2009 at a closed-door event in Nairobi attended by just about 30 people, among them ODM leader Raila Odinga and his wife.

Mr Njonjo has six grandchildren, who he credits with having an uplifting effect on his energy and love for life.

Mr Njonjo hardly discusses the specifics of his family in published interviews, but in the 2016 chat with Business Daily, he said he was confident that he had been a good father to his children.

“I have looked after my kids well, I have seen them through their education; one is a barrister, the other is a scientist and one is a veterinary doctor. They have turned out well, I think. I have given them what my father gave me — an education,” he said.

The father he was referring to was paramount chief Josiah Njonjo, one of the foremost collaborators of British rule in Kenya as detailed in the 2012 book ''Neopatrimonialism in Africa and Beyond'' by Daniel Bach and Mamoudou Gazibo.

It appears Mr Njonjo has his succession plan figured out for his children. He has been quoted as saying that he has written a will in which every child knows what will be inherited.

“We have sat together and they know what they will get and inherit. There is a will they can’t challenge,” he said in 2016.