Nairobi News


Why activist wants Mzee Kenyatta’s portrait removed from Kenyan currency

By MAUREEN KAKAH September 28th, 2017 2 min read

An activist has gone to court to challenge the continued use of the portrait of Kenya’s first president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta on Kenyan currency.

In a suit filed on Wednesday, activist Mr Okiya Omtatah faulted the Central Bank of Kenya and its governor Patrick Njoroge for the continued use of Mzee’s portrait contrary to the law which bars usage of an individual’s image.

Mr Omtatah claimed that CBK approved usage of wildlife animals and nature images yet currency notes and coins of Mzee’s image are still in circulation as well as continue to be used.

“I recently learnt whereas wildlife and natural features were approved to be used, vested interests have been holding the CBK hostage and have been preventing it from issuing new currency notes as well as coins that do not bear Mzee’s portrait,” said Mr Omtatah.


In the case documents, he claimed that it is now more than seven years after the constitution was promulgated and exactly two years after deadline of using the image of former presidents yet the sued parties have failed to issues new notes and coins.

In his suit against the CBK and Dr Njoroge, Mr Omtatah also faulted the fact that currency notes and coins that had the portrait of retired President Daniel Arap Moi were withdrawn and replaced with that of Mzee Kenyatta.

He insisted that currency notes bearing image of prominent wildlife animals in place of Mzee’s was approved several years ago hence the act is aimed at an undeclared collateral purpose.

He has termed the failure or refusal to remove the late President Kenyatta’s portrait from Kenyan currency as a discriminatory act of favour and a deliberate violation of the law on the part of CBK.

He further argued that the principle of public participation was violated at the time the decision to use Mzee’s portrait or that of any presidents in the Kenyan currency notes and coins was made.


He accused the CBK of fraudulently backdating the date of printing new Kenyan currency notes to July 16, 2010, while they continue to annually incur expenditure for printing new notes.

“The circumstances prevailing at the critical Central Bank of Kenya, which is a very strategic government agency, are untenable under the law hence this Court is enjoined to intervene and save the situation by enforcing the law,” he said.

He therefore wants CBK with Dr Njoroge, compelled to issue new notes and coins that comply with the law within 180 days.

He also wants the court to declare that the sued parties have violated the law and that the Kenyan currency notes as well as coins bearing portrait of an individual is unconstitutional.