Writing the Struggle – Pan-Africanism according to Jomo Kenyatta
The late Kenyan founding president, Jomo Kenyatta who was also very instrumental in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) the predecessor to the African Union summed up what pan-Africanism is about in a fable.
He said an elephant visited a friend, a man who lived in a small hut by the edge of the forest during a heavy storm.
Once there, the elephant asked if the man could allow him to just shield his trunk from the storm.
“My dear good elephant, my hut is very small, but there is room for your trunk and myself. Please put your trunk in gently,” the man offered.
“You have done me a good deed and one day I shall return your kindness,” elephant thanked the man.
Not long after, elephant squeezed his head inside the hut and then threw the man out in the heavy storm saying, “My dear good friend, your skin is harder than mine and as there is not enough room for both of us, you can afford to remain in the rain while I am protecting my delicate skin from the hail storm.”
The ensuing commotion brought other animals to the scene to see what was happening. The lion too came roaring about the noise in his kingdom.
“Don’t you know that I am the King of the jungle? How dare anyone disturb the peace of my kingdom?”
In response elephant said, “My Lord, there is no disturbance of the peace in your kingdom. I have only been having a little discussion with my friend here as to the possession of this little hut which your lordship sees me occupying.”
“I command my ministers to appoint a Commission of Enquiry to go thoroughly in to this matter and report accordingly,” lion ordered.
And to the man, lion said, “You have done well by establishing friendship with my people, especially with the elephant who is one of my honourable ministers of state.
“Do not grumble any more. Your hut is not lost to you. Wait until the sitting of my Imperial Commission and there you will be given plenty of opportunity to state your case. I am sure that you will be pleased with the findings of the Commission.” Assured, man was happy hoping that he would get justice and retain his hut.
Elephant as the senior minister was asked to appoint the commission. He then chose his closest friends among them Mr Rhinoceros, Mr Buffalo, Mr Alligator, The Rt Hon Mr Fox to act as chairman; and Mr Leopard who was the secretary. Knowing that all these were close to elephant, man complained but was assured further that he had nothing to fear because the members of the commission were corrigible people.
On the day of the enquiry, elephant told the commission that he only acted to save man’s hut from the storms.
“Gentlemen of the jungle, there is no need for me to waste your valuable time in relating a story which I am sure you all know. I have always regarded it as my duty to protect the interests of my friends, and this appears to have caused the misunderstanding between myself and my friend here.
“He invited me to save his hut from being blown away by a hurricane. As the hurricane had gained access owing to the unoccupied space in the hut, I considered it necessary, in my friend’s own interests, to turn the undeveloped space to a more economic use by sitting in it myself; a duty which any of you would undoubtedly have performed with equal readiness in similar circumstances,” elephant said. (to be continued)