oa African Yearbook of Rhetoric - Ideographs of suppression : Jomo Kenyatta's Independence Day speech

Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2220-2188
  • E-ISSN: 2305-7785



In his ethnographic account of the Kikuyu people of central Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta devotes a chapter to their system of governance. He describes the differing decision-making bodies as inclusive and supremely democratic. In his account, government is perfectly attuned to the needs of the people only to be disrupted by British colonialism. "Today", he wrote, "an African, no matter what his station in life, is like a horse that moves only in the direction that the rider pulls the rein". Twenty-five years after the publication of , Kenyatta would become Kenya's prime minister in 1963 and the first elected president in 1964.

Born Kamau wa Moigoi in the mid-1890s, Kenyatta was baptised and took the name Johnstone Kamau in his early twenties. He likely adopted the name Jomo Kenyatta upon the publication of in 1938. Kenyatta attended colleges and universities in London and Moscow and lived abroad from 1931 to 1946. Associated with land reform and the Mau Mau Rebellion that opposed the increasing numbers of white settlements in Kenya, Kenyatta was imprisoned from 1952 to 1959.

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