This is the final part of the story of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta the founding Father of the Kenyan nation and staunch pan-Africanist.
We complete the story by looking into his legacy he left behind.
By mid-1960s as years pass by, Kenyatta continued to age away; and his people increasingly called him Mzee Jomo Kenyatta; “Mzee” a Swahili term meaning “old and wise man”.
As an old and wise President of Kenya, he continued to remind his people the trickery of imperialism when he said: “When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible. Our children may learn about the heroes of the past. Our task is to make ourselves the architects of the future”
He also frequently reminded his folks that independence was not the guarantee of improved livelihood and good life; but hard work was one; he said: “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”
Although his determination to instruct and lead his people to voyage to an economically prosperous nation did not diminish; but his health began ailing and he suffered two mild strokes in 1966 and 1968 and died peacefully while asleep on the 22nd of August 1978, at the State House in Mombasa.
He was then buried six days after his death.
Kenneth Nyangena an expert of development studies also described Kenyatta as “one of the greatest men of the twentieth century, having been a beacon, a rallying point for suffering Kenyans to fight for their rights, justice and freedom, whose brilliance gave strength and aspiration to people beyond the boundaries of Kenya”.
His message of reconciliation; that called people to “forgive and forget” was perhaps his greatest moral contribution to his country and to the history of humankind.
He always reminded his subjects to look ahead and forgive and forget the past and build the nation’s economy.
He said: “Where there have been racial hearted, it must be ended. Where there has been tribal animosity, it will be finished. Let us not dwell upon the bitterness of the past. I would rather look to the future, to the good new Kenya, not to bad old days. If we can create this sense of national direction and identity, we will have gone a long way to solving our economic problems”
Jomo Kenyatta is today regarded in Kenya and across the African continent as the “Founding Father of the Kenyan Nation”; he is a popular symbol of the Kenyan nation; the claim that is justified by the similarities between his name “Kenya-tta” and the name of the country “Kenya”.
Many other scholars claim that the life story of Kenyatta as a pan-African had great similarities to the life story of Kwame Nkrumah the founding father of Ghana. Like Kwame Nkrumah; Jomo Kenyatta is also remembered for “initiating the discourse and process that plotted the narrative of African freedom” Kenyatta and Nkrumah are also remembered for both making the dream of African independence in their respective countries a reality as well as pushing for liberation of other African countries through the OAU.
Jomo Kenyatta was an extraordinary pan-African leader; like his peer who dreamed of a free united Africa.
Kenyatta will remain as one of the forefathers of pan-Africanism and an inspiration for a united Africa. As was Kwame Nkrumah, and was Jomo Kenyatta; until his death the vision for a united Africa was not realized in his time and to date.
Dr Kafumu is the Member of Parliament for Igunga Constituency