Every well-meaning politician in Kenya is eager for talks with the Mombasa Republican Council, which only goes to prove the justness of the group’s claim that Coast is not Kenya.
For close to a decade, all the people of Coast Province have been dying to swear fealty to the Sultan of Zanzibar out of spite for the government in Nairobi. After years of ill-treating the Sultan’s subjects, in violent breach of numerous agreements, the subjects of the Sultan have had little choice in whom else to place their loyalty.
On October 8, 1963, Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta signed an agreement with his Zanzibari counterpart, the Sultan and the British Secretary of the Colonies in which he agreed that “free exercise of any creed or religion will at all times be safeguarded and, in particular, His Highness’s (the Sultan’s) present subjects who are of the Muslim faith and their descendants will at all times be ensured of complete freedom of worship and the preservation of their own religious buildings and institutions.”
No sooner had the ink dried on this agreement than Mr Kenyatta proscribed freedom of religion. All the Muslims were systematically converted to other faiths as part of a wicked scheme to dishonour the agreement.
Secondly, although Mr Kenyatta agreed that Kadhi courts would at all times determine questions of Muslim law relating to personal status where all parties profess Islam, Kenya has insisted on marginalising this court by taking it out of the Constitution.
Thirdly, Mr Kenyatta agreed to recognise all freehold titles to land in the coast region that had already been registered to people living in Muscat and other cities abroad, and to continue to register new freehold titles.
Ever since, absentee landlords have been harassed, dispossessed and treated and invited to jump into the ocean. In a tragic reversal of roles, squatters in Coast Province have become the new landlords.
He would collect £1,700 sterling every year from the British as rent for his love.
Breaching the conditions of the 1963 agreement instantly nullifies the clauses that said the Coastal Strip would no longer be the Sultan’s property. Additionally, the revocation of the June 14, 1890 and the December 14, 1895 agreements which gave the Sultan initial sovereignty over the coastal strip would be nullified. Breach of contract, that’s what.
With all the people of Coast Province having been freed from their obligations to the Kenyan state and restored to their original station as subjects of the Sultan, their only desire is to pledge loyalty to His Highness, or his rightful descendants. They only desire to live peaceably under the benevolent rule of the Omani Arabs as they once did after the defeat of the Portuguese.
The people of Coast Province – also known as the Coastal Strip — want no truck with Kenya, given the special circumstances in which they came to be the Sultan’s loyal subjects.
Back in 1729, when the Portuguese were ruling the coast, the Swahili sent a delegation to convince the Sultan of Oman to offer military assistance to rout the Portuguese occupiers. Thereafter, the Sultan decided to move to Zanzibar to be closer to his subjects.
The desire for autonomy is informed by the fact that Coast Province has been neglected through and through. Not a single hospital. Not even a university. No airport and no road better than a donkey track. Certainly no railway.
Yet, this region has sufficient resources to manage on its own. So, let the talks begin with the politicians aware of the solid ground upon which MRC stands. Coast may be a part of Kenya, but it is not Kenya.
Soon, every other place will realise the wisdom of this struggle, and then even Nairobi will not be Kenya – only a tiny part of it.