Who was Joseph Murumbi? Very little is known about Kenya's second vice president. There is even a huge mystery surrounding the circumstances that led to his abrupt resignation after serving for only a few months in office. This article unearths some fascinating revelations about the man.
After Jaramogi Oginga Odinga resigned from the Kenyatta administration (actually he was forced out without being told directly to leave by political frustration and pressure masterminded by one Tom Mboya) Kenyatta appointed Joseph Zuzarte Murumbi as vice president.
Kenya's second Vice President was a fascinating character and it is said that too little has been written about him (partly due to the fact that the man kept his mouth firmly shut until his death in 1990 at the age of 79.) It is said that he was the offspring of a Goan trader and a Maasai mother but spent the first 16 years of his life in India. After that he travelled the world extensively and at one time worked in London as press and tourist officer in the Moroccan embassy.
Mystery has always surrounded Murumbi's sudden resignation on August 31st 1966 after serving as VP for only 15 months. The truth is thatit had a lot to do with disillusionment for one who had very high ideals when giving themselves to serving their beloved motherland.
To understand the whole scenario better, picture a typical Kenyan today in the Diaspora who gets achance to get involved in the politics of their homeland after years of working abroad. That kind of person is bound to be extremely patriotic and eager to do good for their country. They are also likely to be very idealistic in their approach to things. Now you can begin to understand the disillusionment Murumbi must have encountered as VP to a president who together with equally bloodthirsty selfish individuals surrounding him were amassing land and wealth like there was notomorrow. But the final straw for Murumbi was probably the discovery (years after it had happened) that his close friend Pio Gama Pinto had been murdered by the Kiambu mafia and thathe was partly responsible for that death by confidently calling him out of hiding (as we saw in an earlier chapter of this book).
Lawyer Pheroze Nowrojee agrees and says; "The assassination of Pinto illustrated to Murumbi the shocking extent to which the new government had departed from its promises. His feeling, evidently, was that these were not the values for which so many had suffered, and (from then on) his departure was effectively only a matter of time."
Pinto was assassinated on February 25th 1965 andMurumbi was not VP at the time. So what is meant here is that Murumbi was already disillusioned with the Kenyatta government before his appointment as VP and probably thought that he would change things as the"second in command". It is also possible that Murumbi would not have known for sure who ordered the hit on Pinto until he had served several months as Vice President where he was bound to come across a lot more privileged information than an ordinary minister would ordinarily have access to.