Kenyatta: Governments Can't Give Everything!

Published on 19th August 2008


Mzee Jomo Kenyatta

Born in the 1890s in Gatundu (Central Kenya),  Jomo Kenyatta, popularly called Mzee was the first president of the Republic of Kenya. Kenyatta was among the participants in the 5th Pan African Congress at Manchester in 1945 where African leaders, among them W.E.B Dubois, Kwameh Nkrumah and george Padmore demended for political independence for their countries. He passed away on the dawn of 22 August 1978. The following is his Independence Speech.


"It is with great pride and pleasure that I receive constitutional instruments today as the embodiment of Kenya’s freedom. This is the greatest day in Kenya’s history, and the happiest day of my life.


“Our march to freedom has been long and difficult. There have been times of despair, when only the burning conviction of the rightness of our cause has sustained us. Today, the tragedies and misunderstandings of the past are behind us. Today, we start on the great adventure of building the Kenyan nation.


“As we start on this great task, it is right that we who are assembled at this historic ceremony here today, and all the people of Kenya, should remember and pay tribute to those people of all races, tribes and color who-over the years-have made their contribution of Kenya’s rich heritage: administration, farmers, missionaries, traders and others, and above all the people of Kenya themselves.


“All have labored to make this fair land of Kenya the thriving country it is today. It behoves each one of us to vow that, in the days ahead, we shall be worthy of our great inheritance.


“Your Royal Highness, your presence here today as the personal representative of Her Majesty the Queen is for us a great honour and one which gives the pleasure to all the people of Kenya.


“We thank Her Majesty for her message of good wishes, and would request you, sir, to convey to the Queen the warm greetings of all our people.


“We welcome also today Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, who has been so closely concerned with us in the final stages of our march to independence. With Britain, which has watched over our destinies for so long, we now enter a new relationship. The close ties, which have bound our two countries, are not severed today. Rather, they will now grow in strength as we work together as two sovereign nations within the commonwealth, that unique association of free and independent states to whose counsels we look forward to making our contribution.


“To all our honoured guests, I extend-on behalf of the people of Kenya- warm and fraternal welcome to our country on this great occasion. Your presence here today brings added pleasure to our rejoicing.


“Today is rightly a day of great rejoicing. But it must also be a day of dedication. Freedom is a right, and without it the dignity of man is violated. But freedom by itself is not enough. At home, we have a duty to ensure that all citizens are delivered from afflictions of poverty, ignorance and disease, otherwise freedom for many of our people will be neither complete nor meaningful. We shall count as our friends, and welcome as fellows-citizens, every man, women and child, in Kenya-regardless of race, tribe, color or creed- who is ready to help us in this great task of advancing the social well-being of all our people.


“Freedom also means that we are now a member of the international community, and that we have a duty to work for the peace of the world. Abroad, we shall count as our friends all those who strive for peace.


“My friends, we are now an independent nation and our destiny is henceforward in our own hands. I call on every Kenyan to join me today in this great adventure of nation building. In the spirit of HARAMBEE, let us all work together so as to mould our country that it will set an example to the world in progress, toleration and high endeavor.


“We are grateful for the greetings from her Majesty the Queen which the Duke of Edinburgh has read to us today. We ask him- when he returns to Britain-to convey our greetings to the Queen. Tell her that, although we have become independent, we shall remain friends. I think, my brothers that our friendship with the Queen and the government of the United Kingdom will now be of greater value. Before, this was not of our choice; it was being forced upon us. But now, although we have broken all chains, this friendship can be real and of great importance.


“I also want to thank the Duke of Edinburgh for having brought us an important book, different from any other. This book says that all the people of Kenya are free, that the people of Kenya are upholding their own Government, whether anyone else likes it or not. We thank the Duke of Edinburgh again, and we shall never forget that it was he who brought us this important book.


“ I am grateful that distinguished guests from all over the world have joined us in celebrating the achievement of independence for our country. I greet you on behalf of the people of Kenya. We all wish you a happy and enjoyable stay in our country. But, as you know, mistakes and imperfections can be found here and there, and should you encounter such things-be you black, white or brown-we ask you to excuse us and accept that this is unintentional. We are all human, and human beings are sometimes bound to make mistakes.


“What I have to say now is for the people of this country, but first let me say a word to our brothers in Africa who broke the chains of colonialism before us. I say to them: we are now independent after you. You have already tasted the honey of Uhuru, and now that we are with you, I know that this is sweet.


“But to all who have independence, I say: this would be meaningless if in our Africa, some of our brothers are still under the yoke of colonialism. We therefore face a great challenge, to help those of our brothers who are left behind, still dominated by foreign rule. If we look at South Africa, and if we look at Mozambique and Angola, we find our brothers being exploited. It is thus our duty to fight, by all means available to us, so that our brothers can achieve their independence.


“African unity is very important. If there is no unity in the whole of Africa, we shall still be slaves: we shall have entered into a new type of slavery, the slavery of divide-and rule by more powerful countries which have tasted the sweetness of rulling, and which –whether waking or sleeping – only think of ruling Africa. And when they sleep, a dream comes to them urging them to divide Africa, divide then rule. It is our duty to stop this, and the only means is unity.


“ If we achieve unity, the whole world will respect us. We shall be the foundation and the shield of another Africa. Our Africa has been milked until she is almost dry. Now we want to restore and sustain mother Africa, so we can enjoy the little milk that is left. If we do not do this, we will be finished. I want to emphasize that our salvation must come from unity.


“Some people may say that-alas!-Kenyatta now is advocating a colour bar. This is not so; I have no color feelings at all. What I want is for us to be united, so we can go forward and co-operate with the rest of the world. This is our goal.


“And there is another matter: some people are saying-Kenyatta, you and your brothers are now independent, so which sides will your independence take you to; will you be pro – west, or pro-East, on the side of the devils or the angels? I therefore declare to you now that the aim of my government, which starts today, is not to be pro-left or pro-right. We shall pursue the task of nation building with friendship with the rest of the world. Nobody will be allowed to tell us, to me; you must be friendly to so-and so. We shall remain free, and whoever wants friendship with us must be a real friend.


“We shall never agree to friendship through any form of bribery.


“And I want all those nations who are present today-whether from west of from east-to understand our aim. we want to befriend all and we want aid from everyone. But we do not want assistance from any person or country who will say: Kenyans if you want aid you must agree to this or that. I believe my brothers and I tell you now, that it is better to be poor and remain free, than be technically free but still kept on a string. A horse cannot choose: reins can be put on him so he can be led around, as his owner desires. We will not be prepared to accept any aid that will tie us like a horse by its reins.


“Now my words to the people of Kenya: many people may think that, now there is Uhuru, now I can see the sun of freedom shining, richness will pour down like manna from heaven. We must all work hard, with our hands, to save ourselves from poverty, ignorance and disease.


“We ourselves can save us, but nobody else. When the Children of Israel were crying, saying: ‘God, why did you bring us to this wilderness, where there is no water or sustenance? God said He would bring them something called manna. This cannot happen again. He said He had closed the door, and anyone who wanted manna had to work for it. These are not the words of Kenyatta.


God Himself told the human race. He said He had closed the door with a lock, and thrown the key into the ocean; that the door would never open again and there would be no more manna in the world.


“Therefore, my brothers, we have to work hard and be faithful, to make our independence mean all that we want and hope. If we do nothing but sleep, there will be many difficulties. All types of work must be done.


“From today onwards, I want our Uhuru to mean: Uhuru na Kazi…Freedom and work. This will help us greatly.


“Another point, my brothers, is this: do not think that, because there is no longer a colonial government, there will no longer be need to respect the country’s laws. The laws of the country will remain; the prisons will remain. Do not think that because the other day I freed about 8000 people from prison, all prison doors will now be closed and no more people will be sent in. This is not so. Anyone who breaks the laws of the country will be dealt with firmly.


“An African government wants faithfulness. It wants the laws to be obeyed. This is what government is for, and what it should be. I do not want to burden you. But I do want those who will help me in building our nation, and making it a worthwhile place to live in, to be faithful


“I thank you as well for electing me to lead you into a new phase in the progress of our country. In the past, we used to blame the Europeans for everything that went wrong. When things went wrong, we used to say the Europeans are bad, they are sucking our blood. When we lacked education, we said the Europeans were only educating their children, and the Asians were only educating their children, so when will ours be educated?


“Now the government is ours. Maybe you will now be blaming Kenyatta, saying, ‘Kenyatta, we elected you, but where is this, or that?’ But you must know that Kenyatta alone cannot give you everything. All things we must do together. You and I must work together to develop our country, to get education for our children, to have doctors to build roads, to improve or provide all day to day essentials. This should be our work, in the spirit that I am going to ask you to echo, to shout aloud, and to shatter the foundations of the past with the strength of our new purpose…HARAMBEE! ”

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