A Kikuyu song from Kenya referring to the arrest of Jomo Kenyatta in October 1952. Jomo Kenyatta was the leader of Kenya from independence in 1963 to his death in 1978, serving first as Prime Minister and then as President. He is considered the founding father of the Kenyan nation.

The day Kenyatta was arrested,
was on a Monday,
He was taken to the airport:

They mocked him, saying, (1)
‘Jomo, you’ve defended the blacks; (2)
Now defend yourself, and we’ll see!
If you can win, we will accept you.’

When Pritt heard the news (3)
He felt a strong sympathy,
Seeing the Kenyans in trouble.

Spear-bearers! We’ll never compromise! (4)
You have us your brothers put in prisons,
And revealed the secrets of the blacks.

When they heard the news, they were surprised
To learn that the witnesses were
Their own Kikuyu sisters and brothers.

The lawyer asked a girl, Peninah Wanjiku, (5)
‘Are you sure Jomo was there
When the oath was administered?’

When all the chaos is finished,
We’ll return to our homes and our land
And many spear-bearers will commit suicide!

They mocked him, saying,
‘Jomo, you’ve defended the blacks;
Now defend yourself, and we’ll see!
If you can win, we will accept you.’

from The Swords of Karinyaga,
K. Wachanga (ed. R. Whittier),
(East African Literary Bureau, 1975)


Footnotes

  1. Ironically, Kenyatta is presented as a Christ-like figure.
  2. Kenyatta was never a lawyer, but he had campaigned for independence.
  3. Pritt: The British defence barrister, D.N. Pritt.
  4. The Spear-bearers were a locally-recruited Home Guard, recruited by the British.
  5. Peninah Wanjiku: A prosecution witness, subsequently found to have committed perjury.