Madaraka Day: If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are like a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree, wrote American author Michael Crichton.
Indian old journalist and a novelist stamps the thinking on history by saying that the most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.
On 1st June of every year, Kenya bumps into colorful Madaraka Day celebrations which many of them have an iota of information about. Their wish is always that the day should be on a weekday, probably a Friday so that they may have an elephant weekend.
Concentration on whatever they are celebrating about remains a tale and most of them will tell you nothing about it.
Various factors have largely contributed to the history decay of the country from optional taking of the subject in the education system to nurtured arrogance born out of political and economical crisis.
In this millennial era, things seem to be going south compared even to the KANU era were celebrating this day had some sense of patriotism.
Madaraka is a Swahili word for power or governance and each year Kenya celebrates Madaraka day to commemorate a day that it attained its self-rule and not independence as many confuse it to be. Maybe a shallow history can lead us to understand this better.
During the 19th century, Arabs penetrated the East Africa coast trading with the locals in a barter trade mode and one of the existing impacts to date was the birth of Swahili language.
No sooner had they rooted than the European scramble for partition on Africa emerged. It was greatly influenced by social-economic factors such as prestige and supply of raw materials for their European industries among other factors.
1884 marked the turning point for the partitioning of Africa through the Berlin Conference which set rules and regulations for colonies in the entire black continent in the exemption of two countries that were Ethiopia and Liberia.
In 1888, Kenya was under the rule of British company known as Imperial British East Africa Company that’s rule stretched to the Kingdom of Baganda, the current Uganda nation.
Deep history follows then and landmark projects like the Ugandan Railway work begin which has been now duplicated by actively working Chinese one which stretches from the Port City of Mombasa to Naivasha.
Between 1888 and 1900, supremacy battles are faced along the region, and Uganda is declared a British protectorate thus revoking the company’s contact with compensation. Kenya becomes a responsibility of the British government as the East Africa Protectorate.
1895 and 1920 saw massive changes in the country with news farms setup as White Highlands and subjection of Africans to harsh labor and loss of lands among other troubles.
As early as 1921, Africans began to form associations such as Young Kikuyu Association which was asserting for Africans rights and recovering their land.
Mzee Jomo Kenyatta then established a newspaper known as Muigwithania which meant a Unifier in the 1930s. It advocated for various social-political matters of the country. However, it faced some tough government counter but struck an impact in the society.
In 1944, first African was elected to legislative council in Nairobi and the number doubled in 1946.
In 1952, a tragedy befalls the associations leaders as many of them are arrested and jailed. The worse aspect of the matter is that the government declares a state of emergency. This is resulting from sudden outbreak of sabotage and killings linked to the famous Mau Mau Movement.
The campaign of terror continues with Kenyatta and 6 others behind bars in Kapenguria since the number of European killings kept rising each daybreak.
More than 10,000 Mau Mau were killed by the British forces since they had killed more than 2000 collaborators at an alarming rate.
Light at the end of the Tunnel
In 1960, the state of emergency is lifted and a conference in London gives Africans more seats in the legislative council with the race of independence being in the final stretch.
Jomo Kenyatta being still in detention is elected president of newly formed political party Kenya National Africa Union (KANU). He is later released in 1961 and leads Kenya’s delegation in independence talks and in early 1963, elections are conducted.
KANU wins the majority of seats and Kenyatta becomes the Prime Minister. Kenya attains self-rule on June 1st but with sovereign powers still in British hands. Madaraka is born here and that’s what we are celebrating to date. This was however a great a step for the nation 6 months before it could be declared a republic on 12th December 1963.
As the country keeps on thriving in freedom and happiness, it’s better to acknowledge the heroes and heroines who fought to make it memorable through Madaraka Day.