Former First Lady Margaret Kenyatta hails from the family of late former Kenya Railways Managing Director Dr Ephantus Njuguna Gakuo. He was the first African to appointed Kenya Railways MD.
The ex-first lady has grown into a global icon over the course of her tenure thanks to the numerous humanitarian efforts she was engaged in. She is the founder of the Beyond Zero campaign which gained her global recognition before its untimely .
Mrs Kenyatta follows in the footsteps of her father, Dr. Gakuo who made a name for himself at the helm of Kenya Railways.
WoK in this article takes a look at the Gakuos.
The former First Lady earned both local and global recognition for her numerous initiatives. Mrs Kenyatta was the Beyond Zero Campaign – a countrywide grassroots health initiative. According to reports, the initiative had set up over 36 mobile clinics across the country.
She also started the First Lady Half Marathon.
Dr Ephantus Njuguna Gakuo
Margaret Kenyatta’s father was a former Kenya Railways MD. Dr Njuguna took over from GPG Mackay in 1964.
He was an alumnus of Alliance High School. He first served as the secretary at the East African Tobacco Company and was later appointed the East African Railways & Harbours Director General. He held the role for 12 years from 1964 to 1976.
According to reports, Gakuo acquired £13 million (approximately Ksh1.8 billion) from the World Bank which was used to fund the high capacity rolling stock, new marshalling yards, modern training methods and better rail traffic control.
He acquired an additional £15 million (approximately Ksh2.1 billion) from the Central Legislation Assembly which were used to increase rail stock and wagons.
He oversaw the transitioning from steam to diesel locomotives. He bought 70 coach (third class) wagons for a further £30 million (approximately Ksh4.2 billion) which increased passenger numbers to six million in 1971 and the workforce to 46,000 by 1972.
Dr. Gakuo established Kenya Railways into a profit-making state parastatals. He faced the challenge of a bloated workforce — always on the verge of strikes and go-slows. The modernisation programme was marred with delays and capacity challenges.
He passed away in August 2005.
He earned his BA and MA degrees in Commerce from the Delhi School of Business in 1955. He went on to teach African studies at Delhi University for three years and later on earned his PhD in Economics from Freiberg University in 1960.
Gakuo married his German wife and they had two children-the third First lady of Kenyan and the reclusive Maina Gakuo.