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Kenya: Black & White–Harambee!

2 minute read

Black & White—Harambee!

Only a few years ago, Kenya’s whites raged against Jomo Kenyatta as the bloodthirsty founder of Mau Mau. In 1961, a governor of Kenya labeled Kenyatta “a leader to darkness and death.” On a London visit in 1962, Kenyatta was pelted with rotten eggs by white extremists brandishing placards reading, “Hang Kenyatta!” Yet last week, as his country’s newly elected Prime Minister, Kenyatta was a hero to most of Kenya’s remaining white farmers.

At Nakuru, capital of the former white highlands, 400 farmers crowded the town hall to hear him, determined to base their decision to leave Kenya or to stay on what he had to tell them (in the past two years, 6,000 have left, but 60,000 remain). Kenyatta appealed to the whites to forgive and forget, to join hands with his three-month-old African government and prove that different racial groups can live harmoniously together.

“There is no society of angels, black, brown or white,” said Kenyatta. “We are human beings and as such we are bound to make mistakes. If I have done a mistake to you, it is for you to forgive me. If you have done a mistake to me, it is for me to forgive you.” He assured the white settlers that they would be allowed to farm their land without interference, though the government will use idle land, and promised more police action to prevent the stealing of cattle.

When he finished, the white farmers roared Kenyatta’s battle cry of “Harambee!”, a Swahili expression meaning “Let’s all push together—get up and go.” Not all were won over. But most decided to stay in Kenya so long as Jomo Kenyatta continued saying and doing the right things. His speech, said Farmer Leader Lord Delamere, was a “unique and historic” event.

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