Marjorie Gachigi Kimenyi: Kenya’s First Woman to Own and Drive a Car

Marjorie Gachigi Kimenyi: Kenya’s First Woman to Own and Drive a Car
Marjorie Blanche Gachigi Kimenyi

The general adage since the years of yore holds that women must always fight twice as hard as men to make a mark in the world.

Truth is that women have left lasting footprints on the social and economic fabric of our human existence, footprints that have remained visible for many years. Women have many enviable firsts.

In Kenya for instance, the first African woman to own and drive a car, as told by author Mike Eldon, was his mother-in-law, Marjorie Blanche Gachigi Kimenyi.

Marjorie Kimenyi descended from a long line of high achievers and according to a book, A Profile of Kenyan Entrepreneurs, her grandmother Medrin Wanjiru wa Rara, was among the first land owners in Nairobi.

She was a landowner in the 1900s and owned some land in Nairobi, around Globe Cinema area. Her main residence is exactly where “Fairmont The Norfolk” now stands. She was an astute farmer and planted all the bananas that had adorned the Nairobi river from Norfolk to the Globe roundabout. The bridge was well known then and named after her “Wanjiru’s bridge” ( Ndaraca ya Wanjiru). She is known to have physically fought off Col. Grogans emissaries.

Wanjiru wa Rara once accommodated Jomo Kenyatta, Mbiyu Koinange who were young at the time, alongside other veteran freedom fighters in her Nairobi home.

Kenyatta had just arrived in Nairobi as a water-meter reader.

Marjorie was the daughter of Ishmael and Gladys Ithong’o. Ishmael Ithong’o is amongst the first Kenyan African’s to attend Oxford University, in London.

The Wedding of Marjorie B. G. Kimenyi to Daniel Noah Kimenyi on 04th Sept. 1942

Mike Eldon is married to Marjorie’s daughter, Evelyn Mungai, who founded Speedway Investment Bureau in 1970 which was the first African-owned personnel selection agency. She founded it while in her twenties.

Evelyn is also the founder and proprietor of the iconic Evelyn College of Design, in Nairobi.

She and Eldon met in 1995 after Evelyn had been widowed for 18 years from her first marriage from which she had two children – Eric and Wacuka.

Eric Mungai is a businessman and a close associate of President Uhuru Kenyatta. He is also the father of Kenyan musician Karun Mungai.

Eldon also revealed that he had grown close to Dr Njoroge Mungai, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s early day’s personal Physician and a one time Foreign Affairs Minister in Kenya, who also played Jomo Kenyatta’s role at President Uhuru Kenyatta’s wedding.

He explained that Dr. Mungai also played the role of his father at his own pre-wedding event with his wife Evelyn.

Eldon said, “Dr. Mungai’s parents were Godparents to my mother-in-law” Marjorie Kimenyi, and that “the late Hon. Jemimah Gecaga – Dr. Mungai’s sister – was Matron of Honour at her wedding.”

“Jemimah who was one of the earliest Nominated MP’s in the Kenyan government said Marjorie the woman of many firsts, was the first African woman to own and drive a car, would give her a lift,” stated Eldon in a tribute to Dr. Mungai. Marjorie as she was commonly known was also the first woman then a young lady to travel abroad for further studies. While traveling to Uganda’s most prestigious Ngayaza High School, she met on the train her husband to be, Daniel Noah Kimenyi who was then studying in another prestigious School in Uganda, Kings College Budo, and a class mate to the then first Kenyan Attorney General, “Sir” Charles Njonjo.

Marjorie Kimenyi met and led Mzee Jomo Kenyatta to the grand opening of King George Hospital now Kenyatta National Hospital where she worked for over thirty(30) years before retiring.


Marjorie Gachigi Kimenyi: Kenya’s First Woman to Own and Drive a Car

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