Kenyatta coin

Jomo Kenyatta’s profile is on this money from Kenya. Kenyatta was Prime Minster of Kenya from 1963 -1964 and then became its first President. Kenyatta came to London to study and, in 1934, he met Dinah Stock, a labour activist, who had travelled the world pursuing anti-colonialist campaigns. She met Kenyatta at an anti-imperialist gathering – he needed help with the editing of a book on his ethnic group, the Kikuyu. By 1937, they had moved into a flat together at 15 Cranleigh Buildings.

While here, Kenyatta wrote a study of Kikuyu life. Kenyatta met Paul Robeson at this time too, as well as anti-colonial activists George Padmore and C.L.R. James and others.

Kenyatta was part of the circles around another address on the street, 22 Cranleigh Buildings, home of George Padmore from 1941, and a site where many leaders of independence movements met to discuss and advocate for the self-governance of Africa. 

Kenyatta returned to Kenya in 1946 and lobbied for the end of white rule. He was arrested in 1952, accused of organising the Mau Mau Uprising, a revolt against the occupation of farming lands by white settlers. One resident of Somers Town has spoken about how he, as a young man, was sent to Kenya to suppress the uprising and search out its leaders. To think, he might have seen the man who at one time lived around the corner from him both on the streets of Somers Town and far across the world. 

By Esther Leslie