African Journal of International Affairs

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Jomo Kenyatta: An Epitome of Indigenous Pan-Africanism, Nationalism and Intellectual Production in Kenya

KO Nyangena


This paper discusses the late Jomo Kenyatta, founding President and Head of State of the Republic of Kenya. The paper focuses on Kenyatta as a pioneer and giant African Pan-Africanist, nationalist and intellectual. As a pan-Africanist, the late Kenyatta together with other founding presidents Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Patrice Lumumba of the Republic of Congo, Leopold Senghor of Senegal among others joined hands in spreading the message and values of pan-Africanism which emphasized a form of intellectualism, and political and economic co-operation that would lead to the political unity of Africa. The pan-Africanist spirit, advocated that riches of Africa be used for the benefit, upliftment, development and enjoyment of African people. It is the outstanding African scholars, political scientists, historians and philosophers living in Africa and the Diaspora who developed pan-Africanism that was conceived in the womb of Africa and a product made in Africa by Africans. The paper will focus on Kenyatta`s role in fostering pan-African ideologies for the continent of Africa. Having been influenced by nationalism, Kenyatta sought to address the inter-related issues of power, identity politics, self-assertion and autonomy for Kenya, himself and the African continent. His activities in his struggle for independence and democratic governance in Kenya evidence this. His role in initiating the spirit of Harambee (development through collective pooling of resources ) among the diverse ethnic groups of Kenya is particularly well recognized, appreciated and approved by Kenyans. This paper will also seek to give a critical examination of the challenges faced and caused by Kenyatta as a statesman in his leadership styles especially the way he dealt with emerging opposition in his cabinet. Finally, the paper seeks to discuss Kenyatta the intellectual. As a trained anthropologist and author, Kenyatta contributed immensely to knowledge production in Kenya and Africa as a continent. This is evidenced in his book, Facing Mount Kenya, which talks about his ethnic group, the Gikuyu, and their traditional way of life.
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