By Wangari Muoria-Sal, Bodil Folke Frederiksen, John Lonsdale, Derek Peterson
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Additional info for Writing for Kenya
Ethnicity has a harder edge today. After a half-century of sovereign power wielded—like all state power—in a partisan self-interest, ethnicity is probably the most important identity that Kenyans recognise in politics and in the job market. In daily life, however, Kenyans remain pluralistically tolerant, with multiple human ties of companionship and trust—of age, gender, wealth or poverty, of locality, church or mosque, street-corner bar or golf club. Ethnicity is never their only identity, even in situations of extreme fear and mistrust.
A convinced vanguard might too brazenly lay claim to a monopoly on all loyalties. Nationalism should not presume to deprive its several parts of their own road to self-mastery. As Muoria reported Kenyatta to say on his arrival back in Kenya after the war, ‘I have not come to rule you so as to tell anyone, do this and do that. 31 In Kenyatta’s view no vanguard minority, whether of education, ideology, or ethnicity, had the right to claim to know the interests of others better than they knew it themselves.
But Muoria was also less welleducated than another great Kikuyu pamphleteer at the time, Gakaara wa Wanjau, who had briefly studied at the AHS before being sacked for taking part in a student food-strike. Gakaara had also experienced army service in Ethiopia and, after the war, the growing desperation of squatter life in the highlands. Moreover, Gakaara’s home district of Nyeri, in northern Kikuyuland, was not as prosperous, nor as welleducated, as Muoria’s Kiambu. For all these reasons Gakaara was more penetrating than Muoria in his criticisms of British rule.
Writing for Kenya by Wangari Muoria-Sal, Bodil Folke Frederiksen, John Lonsdale, Derek Peterson