He was the son of a colonial chief who holds the distinction of the first Kenyan to earn a Master’s degree from the United States of America.
Mbiyu returned to Kenya in 1938 where he and his father, Senior Chief Koinange wa Mbiyu set up the Githunguri Teachers College, a project that was well ahead of its time. The school was built using the stones that had been reserved for the construction of his house, but Mbiyu prevailed upon his father to first build the school instead of his abode.
It proved a worthy investment, for many indigenous Kenyans went through the institution. Mbiyu later relinquished the college leadership to Jomo Kenyatta in 1947. Although his father was a colonial chief, his home Kiambu was used as a parliament by the Mau Mau freedom fighters. Consequently, the government detained the old man and his son John Mbiyu for the killing of Senior Chief Waruhiu. Mbiyu was exiled in London where he joined other Pan-Africanists who were trying to liberate their countries from colonialism.
Mbiyu also served as a representative of the Mau Mau leaders and attended the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference in 1960. Mbiyu has been regarded by some as the power behind Kenyatta’s throne.
So busy was he with matters of the state that he gave his brother, Charles Karuga, the power of attorney to run his family.
He is memorialised in the city street that bears his name