Saturday, January 12, 2019

Independence, Kenya, too(1964)

 Everyone should now be accustomed to the nauseating acts which are played out whenever another country gets its independence. The celebrations among the people of the country, who appear to be happy in the delusion that they have gained something from the substitution of one set of rulers by another. The extreme nationalism of the new government — often imposed with a heavy hand. The back slapping and banqueting, between men who were only recently denounced as insatiable terrorists and the representatives of the government which so denounced them. All very familiar and all very sickening.

So it was when Kenya became independent, last December. An estimated £400,000 was spent on the celebrations, including a Miss Uhuru beauty contest which Mr. Jomo Kenyatta left in a huff because the band did not play the Kenya National Anthem when he arrived. Persuaded to return, the new Prime Minister warned that non-Africans must respect the African personality (wasn’t there a man, before the war, who used to say the same sort of thing about the Aryan personality, at big rallies in Nuremburg and other German cities?) and said that if the band had not been Africans they would have been deported.

The Duke of Edinburgh attended a garden party where four former Mau Mau generals also turned up, but the Duke did not leave because his job was to stay and be chummy. Mr. Kenyatta had his photograph taken dancing with the rather bewildered looking daughter of Commonwealth Secretary Duncan Sandys, who had presumably been briefed by daddy to do the honours to the ex Mau Mau leader. Mr. Kenyatta received a telegram from Sir Alex Douglas-Home which looked forward to welcoming him at the next Commonwealth Prime Minister’s Conference in London.

Now with all this mateyness flying about nobody would think that not so long ago Kenyatta and the other Mau Mau leaders were reviled by the British government as primitive savages, heads of a secret society with disgusting initiation rites, terrorists who delighted in orgies of violence. This is the sort of propaganda which was put out in the past about other nationalist movements —about EOKA in Cyprus and the IRA in Ireland, for example.

In each case it eventually suited the British ruling class to come to terms with the nationalists. The propaganda changed and the nationalist leaders were welcomed to the circle of international rulers; their past, no matter how bloody, was forgotten and they soon became respected men. Kenyatta is only the latest of yesterday’s enemies to receive this treatment.

The state of Kenya is beset with all the usual problems of a newly independent African country and the future of its people is not bright. Whatever hardships they may suffer, we may be sure that there will always be plenty of official hypocrisy for them to consume.

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