Harambee: The Kenyan case

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Harambee was denounced in Kenya by its scholars after the assassination of Josiah Mwangi Kariuki (JM). He was last seen alive at the Hilton Hotel, accompanied by Kenyatta’s bodyguard on March 2, 1975. Kariuki’s remains were found beside Lake Magadi Road, south of Nairobi. His body had been burned and left on an ants’ nest.

Following JM’s death Nairobi university students marched in protest in the streets of the capital. The march was broken up by Kenyan riot police and the University of Nairobi was closed by the Kenyan government for several years.

Indeed Kariuki was, up until his violent death in 1975, a larger-than-life figure on Kenya’s political scene. He was a prolific giver and “expressive giving” best describes his philanthropy. It was prompted by his desire to express support in something larger than himself and reflected his vision of a nation whose citizens would be able to fend for themselves.

Indeed, JM’s mode of giving was designed to have a measurable impact on society as a whole. He is remembered by Kenyans as a hero, as he came to represent the force against the evils that have harmed the country to this day.

“In Kenya today, I can only see the dawn of a June morning rising majestically from the white oblivion into the serenity of life,” he said in 1974.

Kariuki’s relationship with Kenyatta became increasingly strained, as Kariuki became increasingly vocal of Kenyatta’s policy. Some of their disagreements were over government corruption, the widening gap between rich and poor due to corruption, drought, the oil shock of 1973 and deteriorating relations among East African Community members.

Kenya also had an unfair distribution of land. After independence, the United Kingdom government gave the Kenyatta government funds to buy back land from the white settlers and redistribute it back to the natives. However, the land was never redistributed. Most of it was handed over to Kenyatta’s close friends.

This was somehow similar to what happened in the USSR in the early 1990s. so then, Kenyans abandoned the word Harambee, why did we Namibian find value in it?

Des,

Windhoek

 

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