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Charles Njonjo, 98, shares his secret to long life

Martin Murigi
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Former Attorney General and Constitutional Affairs Minister Charles Njonjo. [Source/Jeff Koinange]

Charles Mugane Njonjo is the only surviving member of Kenya's Independence Cabinet where he served as the Attorney General.

'The Duke of Kabete', as he is popularly known, turns 99 on January 23, next year.

In an interview three years ago, 'Sir' Njonjo revealed his secrets to long life when the average life expectancy in Kenyan had been pegged at 67 years by the UN's World Health Organisation.

"I look after myself. I swim daily, I used to do 12 laps, now I do only seven. I also have a bicycle which I ride for 10 minutes daily, on top of the treadmill which I do for 10 minutes daily," he said speaking to journalist Jackson Biko.

Njonjo said in addition to physical exercises, he is mindful of his diet but admitted that in rare occasions he takes a bottle of beer which must strictly be a cider.

"I’m also careful about what I eat; I don’t eat nyama choma, I eat a lot of veggies," he noted.

Born in 1920 in Kabete, Njonjo attended Alliance High School and later acquired two law degrees from Fort Hare University in South Africa and United Kingdom's Lincoln's Inn.

He joined the government in 1963 after he was appointed as the first black Attorney General by President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta to take over from A.M.F Webb, QC.

He later served as the Constitutional Affairs Minister in President Daniel Moi's government before he resigned to vie for the Kikuyu parliamentary seat in 1983 where he was elected unopposed.

The former AG married Margaret Bryson in 1972 and has always defended his reason for marrying 'late', arguing that 'he couldn't find a girl to live with'.

Apart from politics, 'Sir' Njonjo is an astute businessman who commands respect in various industries such as agribusiness, insurance, finance and banking.

He is one of the wealthiest persons in Kiambu County and Kenya at large.

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