Daniel Mutinda – The David who felled Goliath

The Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mr Daniel Mutinda (left), welcomes Zambia’s Minister of State for Economics, Mrs L. Monse, when she arrived at the Nairobi Airport on June 2,1976. On the right is Health Assistant Minister James Njiru

Daniel Musyoka Mutinda is skinny, tall and dapper. He has a quiet, thoughtful mien and is scholarly-looking, complete with reading glasses. And that is not for nothing — he has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, political science and economics from Syracuse University in New York and a law degree from the University of Dar es Salaam. Though he was the youngest appointee to the Cabinet in 1974, he towered above his colleagues.

Mutinda runs a law firm, Mutinda and Company Advocates, in Kitui and Machakos, where he is a common sight at the law courts. He is married with four children. Mutinda was born on November 25, 1942, to David Mutinda Kambi and Martha Mutinda at Katungulu village, a few kilometres from Kitui town. He lost his mother when he was four years old and was brought up by a stepmother.

His father was a well-known teacher, who also served as an Africa Inland Church (AIC) pastor. Mutinda Senior joined the Church ministry when he retired from teaching. “My father is still alive and will be 100 years old soon,” said Mutinda, the second-born in a polygamous family of six brothers and sisters. His elder brother is a former Kitui Central MP and Assistant Minister, John Kimanzi Mutinda.

Mutinda joined Ithookwe Primary School in 1952 and Government African School, Kitui, in 1958. Some of his classmates at what is now Kitui School were the late Michael Ngilu, the husband of Water Minister and Kitui Central MP Charity Ngilu, former Clerk of the National Assembly Japheth Masya and businessman Roy Mutisya.

After Kitui School, Mutinda joined Chwa II Memorial College in Uganda, where he engaged in political activism that later shaped his career. “I attended a political meeting near Makerere University that was addressed by John Kakonge, one of the anti-colonial politicians in Uganda. He was among the first politicians I saw on the platform who influenced my thinking,” he says of his stay in Uganda.

Mutinda later got a scholarship from the International Institute of Education at Syracuse University in New York where he studied history, political science and economics between 1965 and 1968. On returning home, he enrolled at the University of Dar es Salaam for a law degree. His classmates at Dar es Salaam included Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga, Court of Appeal Judge Emmanuel O’Kubasu, Senior Counsel Gibson Kamau Kuria, Pan African Insurance Company chairman John Simba and Justice Mathew Amukule.

After Dar es Salaam, Mutinda went to the Kenya School of Law and was admitted to the Bar in March, 1973. He served his pupilage at the prestigious Stratton and Kaplan law firm and joined Kivuitu and Company Advocates. In the 1974 elections, fresh from the University of Dar es Salaam, the soft-spoken Mutinda contested against independence hero Eliud Ngala Mwendwa in Kitui Central. David felled  Goliath, who had been MP since 1961. Mwendwa had dominated the politics of Kitui since pre-independence days. Mutinda beat his opponents with a landslide.

Kenyatta appointed him Minister for Information and Broadcasting. In January, 1978, he was transferred to the new Ministry of Power and Communications, serving there until October the same year, when he returned to Information and Communications until March, 1980.

Today, few would recognise the man who ended the colourful career of one of the most formidable politicians in Kenya and went on to make history by becoming the youngest Cabinet Minister in independent Kenya at the age of 31.

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