October 20th will be an important anniversary in the life of Jomo Kenyatta, President of Kenya.
October 20th will be an important anniversary in the life of Jomo Kenyatta, President of Kenya. Every year, on the date, the people of Kenya mark the occasion on which the man who led them to independence was arrested by the British colonial authorities. He was arrested in October 1952 -- so this year's celebrations will be looking back 25 years.
SYNOPSIS: Kenyatta spent nine years in prison, or under restriction, before he was released in 1961. He had been charged by the British with leading Mau Mau, the violent secret society active in Kenya's colonial days. But he insisted that he and his political movement had nothing to do with it.
On December 12th, 1963, Prince Philip, representing Queen Elizabeth, handed over the formal instruments of Kenya's independence to Jomo Kenyatta, its first Prime Minister. Half a life-time of struggle had been rewarded. He described it as "the happiest day of my life".
Kenya went on to become a republic -- with Kenyatta as its first President. He received congratulations from his ministers on his first re-election unopposed. He has held the office ever since.
But his presidency has not been all plain sailing. The murder of a popular Cabinet minister, Tom Mboya, in 1969 brought public feeling to the boil among Mr. Mboya's Luo fellow-tribesmen. There were riots in Nairobi on the day of the funeral, through which President Kenyatta himself had to pass on his way to the service.
In recent years, President Kenyatta has rarely travelled outside Kenya. But in 1970, he met the Tanzanian and Ugandan presidents in Uganda at one of the regular series of conferences which they held to develop the East African Community.
When President Obote was ousted by General Amin, President Kenyatta did his best to mend the rift this caused between Tanzania and Uganda.
The President in genial mood -- welcoming home the Kenyan team from the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970. He has always encouraged and identified himself with successes of Kenyans abroad, particularly young people.
The tenth anniversary of Kenya's independence. President Kenyatta, magnificent in leopard-skin cloak, celebrated with his people in style. There was a full-scale march-past of the armed forces, and the President spoke with pride about Kenya's stability and economic achievements, and its respect for the rule of law.
In 1975, when Angola was moving towards independence, President Kenyatta made two attempts to bring the warring party leaders together. Twice he got them to the point of agreement in Nairobi -- only for it to break down when they returned home.
He has no bitterness now towards the British. This year he welcomed Prince Charles, heir to the throne, who was on a private visit to Africa. Five years before, he had been host to the Prince's mother, Queen Elizabeth.
"Mzee" is a Swahili term of respect and affection meaning "the old man". It expresses the feelings the Kenyan people have for President Kenyatta, now over 80. As they gathered to welcome him back to Nairobi from a visit to Mombasa earlier this year, he responded with his old rallying cry: "Harambee" -- "Pull together".