Kenya’s first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta had an ingenious way of verifying rumours among his staff at State House.
Whenever one reported something about another individual to Kenyatta, he would find some time and call both parties and tell the accuser to repeat what they reported.
The respondent would then be allowed to defend their actions.
Veteran politician Martin Shikuku, in an undated documentary by Linus Kaikai, narrated that one day, he was surprised to be called to State House over accusations former AG Charles Njonjo had mounted against him.
On arriving, he found a sit reserved for him on the left hand side of the president. Mzee was also in the company of his Vice President Daniel Moi and Njonjo.
After a serving of traditional soup which Shikuku took preference before both Moi and Njonjo, Kenyatta asked him in Luhya, if he had anything to report about the Western region.
Shikuku, not knowing an investigation was being conducted right under his nose, told Mzee that the locals were complaining of corruption in the government.
“Ati wanasema serikali ya Kenyatta ni serikali ya hongo (They are saying my government is corrupt)? ” responded a surprised president.
Shikuku went on to explain that residents were upset because the Marama Chief, Jared Osora, who had been arrested receiving a bribe, was released scot-free after two weeks.
Mzee turned to Njonjo who confirmed that he was aware of the developments.
The AG explained that a technicality in the law barred them from getting a conviction in the chief’s case.
The president then directed his secretary, Geoffrey Kareithi, to ring the then Western PC, Paul Boit, and tell him that the chief had been fired.
Addressing Njonjo again, Kenyatta asked, “Bwana Njonjo iko technicality ingine (Is there another technicality)?”
The AG did not respond and again Mzee asked, “I’m asking you, iko technicality ingine (Is there another technicality)?” to which Njonjo replied “No.”
The president then explained to Shikuku that he had been called to State House because Njonjo had reported that he (Shikuku) was traversing western region claiming the government was corrupt.
Former Defence minister, Njenga Karume, in his book, Beyond Expectations: From Charcoal to Gold, narrated that at one time, Gatundu DC, a Mr Wanyoike, also made false accusations against him.
When they were both summoned by Kenyatta, he instructed, “Wanyoike, repeat what you told me about Njenga.
“You see Mzee, it is…it is people…they say,” the DC stammered.
“Do you want Njenga to think I’m an idiot? Say what you said from your mouth, not what the people said!” Kenyatta ordered.
The president raised his walking stick as if to strike Wanyoike and stated, “Get out of here before I hit you! And if you ever come to me again giving me such nonsense…”