How Former President Mwai Kibaki Worked as Bus Conductor


Former President and Othaya Member of Parliament Mwai Kibaki once spent his younger days as a bus conductor.

Details from the Ministry of ICT publication, the Kenya Yearbook, indicates that Kibaki worked as a conductor for the Othaya African Bus Union over the school holidays to earn pocket money.

Kibaki who schooled at Mathari School (now Nyeri High) and Mangu High also had to learn carpentry and masonry, as students back then were expected to repair furniture and maintain school buildings.


“As a boy, Kibaki was expected to look after his father’s livestock, but a brother-in-law impressed it on his father to take him to school, where he turned out to be an exceptionally bright student,” the Kenya Yearbook narrates.

In his final year at Mangu, Kibaki had considered joining the army but his ambition was nipped in the bud following an order by the Colonial Secretary, Walter Coutts, who prohibited the recruitment of the Gikuyu, Embu and Meru communities into the army.

The desire to join the army was influenced by soldiers returning home from the Second World War in 1945.

After graduating from Makerere University College with a First Class Honours BA (Economics) degree in 1955, Kibaki got a job as an assistant sales manager at Shell Company, Uganda.

The Kenya Yearbook further indicates that “His excellent performance soon earned him a scholarship to the prestigious London School of Economics for postgraduate studies in public finance.”

On returning to Makerere in 1958, Kibaki worked as an assistant lecturer in the Economics Department until December 1960 when he returned to Kenya to become the first Kanu Executive Officer before being elected the MP for Doonholm Constituency, Nairobi, in 1963.

The publication describes Kibaki as “a brilliant debater” who was appointed an Assistant Minister for Finance and chairman of the Economic Planning Commission (1963), Minister for Commerce and Industry (1966) and the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning (1969) and doubled as Vice-President and Finance Minister in 1978 after Jomo Kenyatta’s death.


The third President was sworn in on a wheelchair on December 30, 2002, following a car crash on the campaign trail and was re-elected for the second term until December 2012.

“Kibaki has eschewed petty politics and controversy and has rightly been described as “the gentleman of Kenyan politics”… But his detractors have interpreted the suave style as indifference,” the Kenya Yearbook concludes.

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