Once again, Kenyans will congregate at the Uhuru Park Grounds, Central Nairobi to celebrate yet another great event only reminiscent and comparable to the independence of the country from Britain in 1963. A new Constitution whose delivery has been elusive and controversial for 47 years will be born on August 27, 2010.
Though welcomed by many, there are some who may not heartily join the rest at the promulgation of the first Kenyan Constitution by President Mwai Kibaki. The heroes of the second liberation struggle are unwelcome local guests at the fete that bears some negative remarkable similarities to the independence celebrations. Mau Mau freedom fighters against the white colonial rule were conspicuously absent at the independence celebrations at the Uhuru Gardens in 1963 yet that was their effort.
Whether the exclusion of these post-independence heroes is deliberate or not, is everybody\’s guess. Present day Kenyan leaders are not to blame for the neglect. They are following in the footsteps of their predecessors who were in the habit of doing so and the exclusion of this lot is not an accident neither an exception.
Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, former Tanzanian President, Benjamin William Mkapa and Graca Machel, key mediators in the electoral dispute over the premature presidential results tallies will be among foreign dignitaries to grace the event in which the Cabinet and other constitutional office holders will take fresh oaths of office.
Under Annan\’s chairmanship, post election violence negotiators concurred that the delivery of a new Constitution was a priority in healing the wounded nation and reconciling communities and that it had to be done before the lapse of the controversial Coalition government term. Parliament enacted a law to constitute a Committee of Experts (CoE) to harmonise the Bomas and other drafts before necessary amendments were made by the Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution (PSC).
There are those unsung heroes and heroines who paid dearly with their blood and freedoms to remind the leadership of the footnote at the Lancaster House Order in Council that from December 12, 1963, Kenyans were authorised to make their own Constitution. The Kenyan leadership that has been bent on distorting history could not tolerate critics and opposition by lesser mortals.
A fresh war of words erupted between the establishment and progressive forces fighting for change and an end to the imperial presidency. The intolerant regime ensured that the seeds of reform were not allowed to germinate. In the ensuing years, prisons were filled to the brim by the so-called dissidents and government critics.
The initiatives of these brave sons and daughters of Kenya have paid dividends. At last, Kenyans have a Constitution even if the beneficiaries of that sweat and blood are not willing to invite the heroes to the fete or mention their efforts in official speeches.
Organizations also played a role in one way or another in ensuring that change becomes a reality before we celebrate the 50th independence anniversary. The National Labour Centre and its affiliates mobilized the labour movement in the campaign for the enactment of the new law failing which the centre was ready to give Kenyans their own version of the new Constitution.
Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) secretary general, Francis Atwoli said that history was repeating itself in Kenya. If it were not for the complimentary struggle waged by the trade union movement to the Mau Mau insurgency, Kenya could not have attained independence that soon. For some time, the leadership has taken the labour movement for granted.
In Kenya, there are leaders who believe that freedom fighters and other heroes don\’t deserve recognition or compensation for the wrongs against them. One such person is none other the Attorney General, Amos Wako whose docket handles human rights violations and related injustices in the law courts.
The one time acclaimed human rights lawyer had the guts to appeal against token compensation for the atrocities inflicted on the Nyayo torture chamber victims by State agents. Wako doesn\’t believe that the beneficiaries of this token deserve the award in their graves, sick beds and poor settlements.
For recognition, second liberation fighters have to wait for a much longer time like Dedan Kimathi in the unmarked grave at the Kamiti Maximum Prison. He was honoured posthumously with a Sh4 million statue while his family languishes in poverty.
(Paul Amina is a freelance Journalist and former political prisoner. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)