Many newspaper readers probably failed to appreciate the significance of the Daily Nation page one “splash” headline on November 15. A sub-editor had written: “Uhuru faces Mount Kenya to unite troops”. First, those words powerfully reflected the title: Facing Mount Kenya by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, the very founder of our nation.
Quite surely, Kenya‘s readers would not have failed to grasp the double significance of the newspaper’s splash headline: “Uhuru faces Mt Kenya to unite troops”.
First, a significant literary champion of Kenya’s nationalism is a book known as Facing Mount Kenya. Secondly, the book’s author is none other than Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, the bio-political father of our present President, Uhuru Kenyatta himself.
I say “double” for two significant reasons. First, Jomo fathered Uhuru in two important ways. First, Jomo was Uhuru’s biological father. But, even more importantly, Jomo was Uhuru’s father in that Jomo was the first holder of the independent nation’s most significant office. Jomo was the one who bequeathed that office to Uhuru.
Jomo was also the chief preacher of the new nation’s quasi-religions ideologies both of uhuru (“freedom”) and of harambee, the traditional East African way of calling the public to a collective responsibility; Jomo Kenyatta being the first individual to warm the highest seat of the newly-born political nation.
Moreover, it was to the thunderous applause of the newly-born nation — indeed, of the whole human world — that Uhuru succeeded Jomo.
Howbeit — for all Kenyans who love freedom — the significance of that event is that Uhuru has maintained all the institutions of freedom that his father created and nurtured strongly.
We know that Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta was conscious and continues to appreciate the significance of that fact — which seems to be the mainstay of any young democracy everywhere else in the human world. Yet to point that fact out is by no means to try to whitewash any unfortunate act that Uhuru’s political establishment may have committed.
The Kenyan establishment includes many individuals who seem incapable of seeing that their activities can only undermine the nation’s health. For many undemocratic acts have been committed in the younger Kenyatta’s system — even by some of its most important officials. Howbeit, the significance of pointing it out is merely that, from all my reading of history, I know no perfect human system.
Certain European people seem conscious of it. Thus their languages assert the universally self-evident truth that to err is human. By its very nature, humanity seems incapable of perfection in any field. Nowhere throughout history have human beings ever practised any system or produced any individual or material thing that can be described as perfect.
What appears certain, however, is that humanity will always struggle to create perfection, including even in the slippery field of politics. The only problem, it seems to me, is that, in any narrow field of practice, a species with a brain as large as the human being is probably naturally incapable of perfection. Yet what we might call “specific perfection” can only refer to the human species.
None the least, humanity appears incapable of creating any perfect socio-political system. Yet that seems to be what spurs human beings towards achieving perfection in all directions. That is probably why, even human individuals who have uttered the most beautiful words — both in politics and even in religion — have proved quite hideous when it came to social practice.
But the only significance of that fact has always been that it is what should enthuse all intelligent human individuals in all societies try to produce things and ideas so good that the whole society can describe those things and ideas as perfect. To my mind, that should always be the ideal that every leader is preaching in order for their whole society to qualify as being guided by the keenest intelligence.