Major General Ndolo, Kamba man who almost dethroned President Kenyatta

In 2023, Kenya will be celebrating 60 years of independence and it goes without saying that the country has come a long way.

Whenever a topic about Coup de tat comes up in any discussion everyone’s mind switches to 1982.

Unknown to many there was another coup in 1971 that was planned by a Kamba man Major General Joseph Ndolo who headed the military.

If the coup would have succeeded then Ndolo would have replaced Kenyatta as President.

The Government got wind of the planned coup which was to happen on April 8th.

Six men named to be Ndolo’s co-conspirators were jailed in June of the same year among them former Yatta Member of Parliament Gideon Mutiso.

The ex-MP during the trial confessed to having written the speech to be read by Ndolo if the coup succeeded.

Mutiso said he accepted to be part of the plan because Ndolo was going to take over from Kenyatta.

Ndolo was born in 1919 and rose through the ranks to make history as the first Kenyan to head the army.

He was made Army Commander in 1966 while a British held the position of Chief of Defence Staff.

Before the coup Ndolo had been grumbling about corruption in the military and civilians being given weapons. He also complained of tribalism in Public Service.

Questions have been raised as to why Ndolo was only sacked and never jailed if indeed he was involved in the coup.

It later emerged that Kenyatta did not prosecute Ndolo because he thought he(Ndolo) was misguided and stupid and also the country had to take into account his 37 years of service.

Daniel Moi the then vice president also didn’t believe Ndolo would pull a coup on his own and suspected he was getting advice from someone else.

Instead, he would be allowed to retire peacefully and with that would remain loyal to the administration.

After his exit Ndolo was replaced by General Jackson Mulinge. Ndolo died in 1984 after a grisly accident along Mombasa road.

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