Kenya New Currency: Is Kenyatta’s statue a portrait?

new notes
Photo of a new Ksh. 200 note with Jomo Kenyatta’s statue

Kenyans are divided on whether the first president, mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s statue on the new notes is a portrait or not, and whether it should be completely phased out like the Constitution demands in Section 231 (4) that bans the portraits of individuals.

The new notes were officially unveiled during the Madaraka Celebration in Narok county, immediately after the president’s address to the Nation by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor, Patrick Njoroge that saw him ask everyone to return the old 1000 notes to the bank for the new notes by October 1, in an obvious move to curb corruption and money laundering.

So, is it a portrait or not? That’s the million dollar question on everyone’s mind right now. And why did the CBK put it there well aware it’s a little bit controversial. According to Njoroge, as he was presenting the new notes, they chose the KICC, where Jomo Kenyatta’s statue happen to be because it is a National Symbol.

But not according to activist Okiya Omtatah, who challenged the decision by the CBK by rushing to court. The case will be determined by a three-judge bench.


    “Notes and coins issued by the Central Bank of Kenya may bear images that depict or symbolize Kenya or an aspect of Kenya, but shall not bear the portrait of any individual,” what the law says.


Even as varied views continue to be aired across the country concerning the matter, with some quarter of the belief that you can’t take a photo of the KICC without including the statue of the Founding Father since is part of the vicinity.

But I beg to differ. I think someone intentionally wanted that statue — Jomo Kenyatta — to appear in the new notes because personally I have many childhood photos taken at KICC with only two bearing the statue. You can’t tell us that KICC was the target, when it’s obviously in the background, part of it hidden by the domineering statue of Kenyatta.

The statue is well placed at the middle, at the center of the notes and it’s the first thing you see when looking at the notes. It’s obvious someone still wanted Jomo Kenyatta’s portrait on the notes, well aware the Constitution forbids it.


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