Plaque erected in 2005 by English Heritage at 95 Cambridge Street, Pimlico, London, SW1V 4PY, City of Westminster
Politics and Administration
JOMO KENYATTA c1894-1978 First President of the Republic of Kenya lived here 1933-1937
Jomo Kenyatta was the first President of the Republic of Kenya and the leader of its independence movement. He is commemorated with a blue plaque at 95 Cambridge Street, Pimlico, where he stayed for a short spell in 1930 and for a further four years in 1933–7.
Kenyatta was born Kamau wa Ngengi in east Africa, the son of a Kikuyu farmer. He took the name Kenyatta – after the Kikuyu word for a type of beaded belt he wore – during his 20s and changed his first name to Jomo in the late 1930s. Kenyatta embarked on his political career in 1928 as General Secretary of the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA), a body that sought to represent the community’s grievances, and travelled widely during the following years.
His first visit to Britain was in 1929 and he returned the following year, finding lodgings at number 95. From 1931 he spent 15 years in the UK, returning to 95 Cambridge Street in 1933. While here, he represented the KCA, became associated with Pan-Africanists such as CLR James, wrote works such as the seminal Facing Mount Kenya (1938) and studied at institutions including the London School of Economics.
Money was very short and he often owed rent to his landlady at number 95, Mrs Hocken. He even sold the stamps from mail he received from Kenya in order to buy penny buns. In the autumn of 1934 Kenyatta supplemented his income by working as an extra in the film Sanders of the River, which starred Paul Robeson. Having spent the war years in Sussex, Kenyatta returned to Africa in 1946, where he became an outspoken nationalist.
FATHER OF KENYA
In 1953 he was unjustly convicted for involvement in the Mau Mau rebellion and was imprisoned by the British government for almost nine years. However, when Kenya won self-government from Britain in 1963, Kenyatta was named Prime Minister, and he became President of the new Kenyan republic a year later. Working to unify the nation, he died in office in 1978.