The National Anthem Lyrics
Origins of the National Anthem
Members of the Cabinet visiting the home of the Prime Minister, Jomo Kenyatta, in 1963 where they heard three versions of the National Anthem and tried to select a final version.
The tune of the Kenya National Anthem is an African Song which is heard in the Pokomo country of Kenya. It is a traditional tune sang by mothers to their children.
The National Anthem was prepared by a five-member commission headed by the then Kenya Music Adviser, Mr. Graham Hyslop, with Mr. G. W. Senoga-Zake, Mr. Thomas Kalume, Mr. Peter Kibukosya and Mr. Washington Omondi as members.
This method of preparing a national anthem was completely new in Africa. It was the first time a group of local musicians were given the task of preparing an anthem for consideration by the Government.
In presenting the anthem, the commission noted that it had to reflect the idioms of the traditional music of Kenya. As such, many tunes from various parts of the country were considered, and it was by no means easy to find those which would fulfil all the demands made in the context of their use as a National Anthem.
The tune had to be of the right length and quality, yet possesing the neccessary dignity. It had to be of such character as to make the writing of suitable words manageable and this was complicated since the Commission set out to provide words in Swahili and English. The tune also had to lend itself to appropriate harmonisation and orchestration for performance by a military band, without impairing the original tonality of the melody.
It was expected that the lyrics would express the deepest convictions and the highest aspirations of the people as a whole. Considering that words can either unite or divide, great care had to be taken to ensure that the Anthem was an indisputable unifying factor in the life of the nation.