Writing the Struggle – A Pan-Africanism According to Jomo Kenyatta II
This is the second and last part of a fable told by the late Kenyan founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, when he explained what Pan-Africanism should be and must be. Kenyatta was one of the founding figures of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) the predecessor to the African Union.
In the first part of the fable, Kenyatta talked about the friendship between elephant and man and how the former took over the latter’s hut after being allowed to shelter his trunk.
Lion, being the king of the jungle, intervened by putting together a commission to resolve the issue between elephant and man.
The commission was headed by elephant that called friends whom he knew would stand by him.
Elephant gave evidence first and was, as expected believed by his friends even before the man was called in.
When the man was giving his evidence, the animals on the commission interjected asking him to stick to relevant issues.
“My good man, please confine yourself to relevant issues. We have already heard the circumstances from various unbiased sources.
“All we wish you to tell us is whether the undeveloped space in your hut was occupied by anyone else before Mr Elephant assumed his position?”
“No, but . . .” the man tried to explain before the commission declared it had heard all the information needed.
Elephant then invited the members of the commission to his house for a meal before a verdict was reached.
“In our opinion, this dispute has arisen through a regrettable misunderstanding due to the backwardness of your ideas. We consider that Mr Elephant has fulfilled his sacred duty of protecting your interests.
“As it is clearly for your good that the space should be put to its most economic use and as you yourself have not yet reached the stage of expansion which would enable you to fill it, we consider it necessary to arrange a compromise to suit both parties.
“Mr Elephant shall continue his occupation of your hut but we give you permission to look for a site where you can build another hut more suited to your needs, and we will see that you are well protected,” the commission concluded.
Scared and unsure of what his fate would be if he argued, the man moved away and put up another structure.
A few days after finishing building the new hut, rhinoceros romped in threatening man with harm if he refused to evacuate and make space for him.
Once again, a commission was appointed and again the same verdict was arrived at: Move and make space for the invader.
This went on until all the members of the commission had huts grabbed from man.
It was at this time when the man decided to put in place protective measures so that no animal would take advantage of him.
“Ng’enda thi ndeagaga motegi (There is nothing that treads on earth that cannot be trapped),” the man declared.
He waited until all the huts taken away from him were old and collapsing before he moved a short distance away where he put up a very big structure.
Elephant invaded the hut first; then came rhinoceros followed by leopard, buffalo, lion, and fox.
When the animals found themselves occupying one hut, arguments ensued and serious fights broke out among them.
While the animals were fighting among themselves, the man set the hut on fire killing all the bullies.
“Peace is costly, but it’s worth the expense,” the man said as he enjoyed life without any threats and uncertainties.
A simple interpretation of the fable shows that the man is the African and the hut is Africa while the animals are the colonialists who invaded every corner of the continent as dictated by the 1884 Scramble for Africa, which is the commission.
Every colonialist used violence to scare, torment, exterminate, destroy and control the African who in most cases was a docile believer and follower.
It was only when Africans got tired that they declared enough is enough and fought back with everything within their reach.
In short, Kenyatta was saying that Africans should emancipate themselves; that they should stop believing in the west because none of them has the needs and the aspirations of Africa at heart apart from exploitation.
For this to happen, African unity is critical.