Born on 15th November 1931 in Gatuyaini village, Othaya Division of the then Nyeri District now Nyeri County to peasants Kibaki Gĩthĩnji and Teresia Wanjikũ, Mwai Kibaki was later baptized Emilio Stanley by Italian missionaries but would go ahead to use the name Mwai Kibaki for most of his public life.
His signature political name – Kibaki – is said to have originated from his family’s long time trade of tobacco farming. As a matter of fact, Kibaki in Kikuyu means tobacco.
Young Kibaki would not have gone to school had his older brother in law Paul Muruthi not insisted that the boy should go to school instead of spending his days grazing his father’s sheep and cattle and baby-sitting his little nephews and nieces for his older sister.
Kibaki showed remarkable intelligence and aptitude for learning throughout his primary school years from the day he was enrolled at Gatuiyaini School and later Karima Mission School.