"Harambee": Kenyatta's call towards self-sufficiency

In 1959, freehold titles in large numbers had been issued to Africans, new farm supports were in place, and a campaign was underway to employ landless people. The growth of the Agrarian middle class had started to pick up.

During the above time period the Trade Unions were gaining momentum and Mr. Makhan Singh was prominent. However, Makhan Singh was quickly disposed off by the colonial authorities for allegedly having admitted to being a communist.


After nine years, in August 1961, Kenyatta was freed as Kenya was moving towards self-government under African leadership. Kenyatta was embraced as the colony's most important independence leader and he assumed the leadership of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), a party founded in 1960 and supported by the Kikuyu and Luo. He led the party to victory in the pre-independence elections of May 1963 and was named prime minister of Kenya in June. Kenyatta led Kenya to formal independence in December of that year. Kenya was established as a republic in December 1964, and Kenyatta was elected Kenya's first president the same month.

Growth after independence

Kenyatta knew that independence was not really the end of the struggle, but the beginning. The hopes of millions of Kenyans for a new way of life and better standards of living would not be easy to fulfill. On the 1st Madaraka Day, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta reemphasized what he had told the nation a few days earlier when KANU won the polls. He said that Madaraka was a progressive step towards the attainment of independence, that constitutional advance was not the greatest end in itself.

Independence was, to the majority of people, expected to be a turning point. The Africans, the majority expected a reversal of all things in their favor. For the European settlers who had enjoyed everything in the pre-uhuru governments, there was fear and uncertainty over their future. They visualized a vengeful African dominated government probably bent on some measures of retribution. The Asian group also feared as they had enjoyed some privileges and controlled the young nation's commercial life.

"Harambee" A call towards self-sufficiency

The slogan "Harambee" was given to Kenyan workers for the purposes of national development. Kenyatta likened the task ahead of the new nation to that of workers with a burden which would only be overcome by working together to successfully heave up or put together their heavy load.

As president, Kenyatta worked to establish harmonious race relations, safeguarding whites' property rights and appealing to both whites and the African majority to forget past injustices. "Harambee" (Swahili for "let's all pull together"), deliberately asked whites and Africans to work together for the development of Kenya. However, many of his compromise policies over time became unpopular with radicals within KANU, who advocated a more socialist state structure for Kenya. One of the key persons in this disagreement was Oginga Odinga.

Oginga Odinga was born in 1911 in Siaya District and was a student of Maseno and Alliance High School. He then went to Makerere University and in 1940, he returned to Maseno High School as a teacher. In 1948, he joined KAU and in 1957 was elected to the Legislative Council as member for Nyanza Central. He was one of the founder members of KANU in 1960 and was its first vice-president. When Kenya became a Republic in 1964, he was President Kenyatta's first vice-president. However, his disagreement with Kenyatta eventually found he and his supporters being forced out of the party in 1966.

Move To A Uni-Party State

Odinga formed the rival Kenya People's Union (KPU), which drew much support from Odinga's ethnic group, the Luo. In response, Kenyatta used his extensive presidential powers and control of the media to counter the challenge to his leadership and appealed for Kikuyu ethnic solidarity. The 1969 assassination of cabinet minister Tom Mboya-a Luo ally of Kenyatta's-by a Kikuyu led to months of tension and violence between the Luo and the Kikuyu.

Kenyatta banned Odinga's party, detained its leaders, and called elections in which only KANU was allowed to participate. For the remainder of his presidency, Kenya was effectively a one-party state, and Kenyatta made use of detention, appeals to ethnic loyalties, and careful appointment of government jobs to maintain his position. Kenyatta was reelected president in 1969 and 1974, unopposed each time.

Kenyatta died in office in 1978 and was succeeded by Kenyan vice president Daniel arap Moi. Moi pledged to continue Kenyatta's work, labeling his own program Nyayo (Swahili for "footsteps").

Joseph Harris THE AFRICAN PRESENCE IN ASIA(Evanston, North-Western UP, 1971);
Joseph Harris ABOLITION &REPATRIATION IN KENYA Historical association of Kenya
Pamphlet No.1 (Nairobi, East African Literature Bureau, 1977); Ochieng Omondi; THE SIDDIS OF INDIA(Nairobi, Asian African Heritage Trust, 2000).
GHC, A Combined Course, Malkiat Singh, 1986

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