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By Mwandawito Mghanga

Even as we continue with the struggle for social and national liberation, it is always important to remember the history of our struggle, the commitments we made, the battles we fought, the challenges we faced, our achievements hitherto and to pay homage to our comrades - the heroes of the struggle - who fell along the way. Then we gain strength and stand to consolidate the gains of our struggle hitherto. This provides us with hope and the renewed vigour of forging ahead. This is because the struggle is not yet over but continues and must continue until our country, world, and humanity is liberated from capitalism, imperialism, and all systems of exploitation and oppression of person by person.


We remember that when foreigners invaded our country many centuries ago to colonise our country, starting with the Arabs and then the Portuguese, our patriotic heroes did not submit and surrender. Rather they always resisted defending our dignity as human beings, as Africans, and the right to freedom and nationhood.


The invasion and foreign domination of Arabs and Portuguese met the determined resistance of our patriots and heroes at the coast of Kenya. Our ancestors resisted by all means at their disposal. Resistance was not on a silver platter. It meant determination, commitment, hard work of organising and mobilising, taking risks, arming themselves, and engaging the enemies in ideological contests and armed combat. This demanded courage and calculated bravery, resilience, and sacrifices for the cause.


But not all of our forefathers and mothers were ready to volunteer to engage in the struggle or to be at the forefront. As matter of fact, not everyone was in the resistance struggle. It was only the best among them, those with high human values, the patriots and revolutionary heroes, who moved to the frontline to courageously lead the resistance struggle. Many were afraid of being at the forefront of the struggle or even participating in it. They were afraid of the risks involved that included torture, imprisonment, and death. Worse still, others even sold their souls to the enemies and became traitors of the resistance struggle against their people and freedom. They openly or in secret moved to the side of the enemies of our country and people for being cowards and for purely narrow, parochial, and selfish interests. But the heroes of the resistance struggled on knowing that the resistance was for the interest of all our people that were invaded and dominated by the foreign invaders and occupiers, including the cowards and traitors themselves. 


The heroes of the resistance paid huge prices for their heroic actions. They were arrested, tortured, imprisoned, exiled, and persecuted in many ways. They paid heavy prices indeed, including with their flesh and blood. Despite all this, they sustained the resistance for centuries. They identified the problem then and took the actions of implementing their historical determined acts. This is why we remember them and refer to them as peoples' heroes. Because of their patriotic and heroic deeds, today we celebrate them proudly and the fact that thanks to them our people have a rich and proud history of resisting foreign domination. So the sacrifices made by the patriots and heroes then were not in vain.


When British colonialism invaded our country starting from about 1885, it met resistance from patriots of the various ethnic groups of our country. At the time, a united Kenya did not exist. However, various nationalities lived in this country in various geographical locations we now call the Republic of Kenya. Wherever the colonialists went they were resisted culturally, politically, and militarily by patriots of the various ethnic groups. Their presence, religion, culture, government, occupation, and propaganda was resisted throughout the country. Colonialists and colonialism were never welcomed anywhere in our country. Rather it was imposed through colonial tricks, state terrorism, and Christian religious cultural propaganda and violence. Yet it took about thirty-five years before the British succeeded to defeat our forefathers' and mothers' resistance to establish the unpopular colonial state in 1920 that made Kenya a British colony. 


The British succeeded to colonise Kenya because they had superior weapons and state power and also because Kenya was then composed of an amalgamation of diverse ethnic groups that resisted colonialism each alone in its geographical location and ethnic cocoons. In fighting to establish colonialism in Kenya the British employed the tactics of divide and rule. But by the time colonialism was established in the country, Kenya composed of various ethnic groups was transformed into the nation we call Kenya today.


The establishment of British colonialism in Kenya did not mean the end of the resistance struggle of the Kenyan patriots.  Neither did it mean that Kenyan patriots had given in to the colonial state and surrendered their nationhood to the foreign occupation. On the contrary, the British were always reminded by the conscious resistance and struggle of Kenyans that Kenya belonged to Africans who would never accept colonialism or foreigners ruled forever.


The resistance and struggle of Kenyan patriots against colonialism took various forms. Kenyans rebelled against paying taxes to the colonial government. They also resisted forced labour including that of the building of the Uganda Railway as Kenya Railway was called then. In the names of their ancestral religions and cultures, they refused to be converted to Christianity and to be brainwashed to abandon their languages and cultures through colonial education. They resisted being made to carry colonial passes - vipande - that humiliated the Black people and their freedom of movement, assembly, and association in their own country. They rebelled against colonial laws. They resisted working for White settlers who had stolen their lands and who always practiced racism and apartheid. They resisted being made to believe that the White people are superior to the Black people. At no time was colonialism allowed to be imposed and exist peacefully in our country.


From 1920 to the middle of the 1940s Kenyans resisted colonialism through somewhat peaceful means including worker's strikes, street demonstrations in urban and rural areas, and petitions to the colonial authorities in Kenya and Britain. However, the peaceful resistance was always suppressed violently by the brutal and arrogant British colonial state machine. Kenyans were arrested, tortured, imprisoned, exiled, humiliated, shot, and killed for demanding their human rights, freedom, and independence peacefully. Kenyans kept on learning that the colonial government, constitution, laws, police, army, prisons, democracy, and religion were all instruments of the colonial state machine of terror, coercion, and violence of imposing colonialism upon Kenyans. 


It was becoming clearer and clearer to the exploited and oppressed Kenyans that they would never win their freedom and national independence through peaceful means or through only lamenting about the harsh conditions imposed upon them, praying and pleading for mercy from the merciless colonial oppressors. Gradually they came to learn that freedom needed the determined unity of all oppressed Kenyans and deliberate organisation for political and military action whose ultimate objective was to capture state power from the colonialists. In fact, towards the end of the 1940s Kenyan patriots were organising military actions against the colonial state and all it stood for. The Land and Freedom Army (Mau Mau) and Movement had been organized, established, and began the war of national liberation.


The war of national liberation was hard, long, and protracted and demanded a lot of sacrifices from patriots and the masses of workers and peasants in rural and urban areas. Organising and mobilising people and resources for the Mau Mau was hard and dangerous but necessary work that had to be done by the leaders at whatever cost. Often many militants were arrested by the enemy and were tortured during the interrogations, detained, and executed. 

Living in the forests of Aberdares and Mount Kenya meant enduring hunger, cold weather, loneliness, and threats from dangerous wild animals. Underground struggle demanded in rural and urban areas involved taking risks of arrests, torture, imprisonment, and arbitrary execution by the enemy. Then there was the oppression organized by the colonial state of punishing entire villages that were turned into fascist-like detention camps and torture prisons of large populations, especially in Central Province.  It was never easy for the patriots who offered themselves as soldiers of the peoples' national liberation war and movement that was fought for about ten years until around 1960 when the British were forced to surrender and give in and Kenya gained national independence. The national independence was won by the sacrifices of the flesh and blood of our ancestors who today we remember proudly as Kenya's national heroes.


But, of course, not all Kenyans fought for independence. Not all were patriots. Some were on the side of the colonial exploiters and oppressors. Many colonial chiefs collaborated with colonialism as also many Christian church leaders. There were even Kenyans who were employed in the colonial civil service, police, secret police, prison guards, army and served the colonial system with great vigour and enthusiasm -  against the freedom fighters and the masses! During the struggle against colonialism they acted as propaganda machines of the colonialists preaching the ideology of defeatism that colonialism was insurmountable and would rule Kenya forever. They cheated that it was futile to struggle for national independence. The collaborators were used like colonial dogs to hunt and capture freedom fighters. They tortured and murdered their fellow Africans for the colonialists. Yet, when British colonialism was inevitably defeated and Kenya became an independent country, it was not only the patriots that won freedom but all Kenyans including the traitors and collaborators. For history has shown that the liberation struggle liberates both the patriots and the traitors, the oppressed and the oppressors!  However, today we are proud of the freedom fighters while we despise those who collaborated with colonialism.


British colonialism was replaced by neocolonialism. This meant that after 1963 Kenya was opened for exploitation by world imperialism spearheaded by Western imperialism of the United States of America, Europe, Canada, and Japan. The Kenyatta - KANU regime that took over the leadership of the country from the British perpetuated the status quo of colonialism. They inherited and maintained the colonial state intact. They used the same constitution, laws, government, policies, army, police, prisons, democracy, culture, and education system almost intact to impose the capitalist system that was brought into the country by colonialism. The Kenyatta - KANU regime joined colonialism and imperialism to exploit and oppress the Kenyan masses and by so doing to also perpetuate the capitalist culture of land grabbing, tribalism, greed, dictatorship, and all forms of exploitation and oppression of person by person. They not only ignored or suppressed the patriotic and liberation spirit of the freedom fighters and crushed the Mau Mau movement and ideology, but they also used the state to violate the democratic and human rights of the Kenyan patriots and masses.


Fortunately, Kenyan patriots and masses did not stop resisting and struggling for their freedom and liberation just because Black Kenyans led by Kenyatta - KANU had taken over power from the White oppressors. On the contrary, throughout the time of the Kenyatta regime, there were protests, resistances, struggles, and oppositions by patriots that demanded democracy, human rights, and the end of tribalism, nepotism, dictatorship, land grabbing, corruption, capitalism, and imperialism. The Kenyatta and successive KANU regimes maintained themselves in power through practicing tribalism, arresting, detaining, imprisoning, and assassinating patriots and all forms of opposition. Still, this did not kill the opposition. Neither did it succeed in making the patriots and masses of  Kenyans surrender to the neocolonial capitalist regimes.


The Kenyatta - KANU and the successive regimes were supported not only by the former colonialists but also by the same people who had served British colonialism in various ways and capacities and the newly recruited collaborators who formed the few capitalist elites, tribal bigots, and opportunists who were motivated by personal aggrandisements, narrow and parochial interests. Those people had lost their humanity to become slaves of the reactionary government and state motivated by the desire to accumulate wealth from bureaucratic capitalism and other forms of primitive accumulation.


The Moi - KANU regime that succeeded that of Kenyatta  - KANU continued with the exploitation, oppression, repression, and betrayal of the majority of Kenyans. Only that it became even worse than its predecessor. At the same time, the resistance of the patriots and masses grew with time. The one-party dictatorship that was implemented through the amendment of the colonialist inherited constitution had become akin to fascism. All opposition was banned and detentions without trial, imprisonment through kangaroo courts, torture, and political assassinations were the order of the day.


However, even the Moi - KANU regime with all its fascism against the Kenyan people failed to silence the voice of Kenyan patriots that fought for democratic and progressive reforms both overtly and covertly. The patriots and revolutionaries made great sacrifices in the process of the struggle which included being denied the right of citizenship, employment, torture, exile, and all manner of persecutions including political assassinations.


Some patriots of those days are still in the struggle while others have either joined the exploiters and oppressors of today or retired and are observing the continuing struggle from afar. Still, others have joined the political parties of the reactionary ruling class where they are lavishly paid or rewarded for defending the present status quo of capitalism. Others have been recruited by the numerous NGOs funded by imperialist governments whose motive is to either make Kenyan citizens struggle for reforms within the capitalist system and to avoid revolutionary struggle whose objective is to replace capitalism and imperialism with socialism. Others have turned into cynics who only watch,  criticize and laugh at from afar those continuing with the struggle today.  Some among them have written or are writing autobiographies about their contribution to the struggle yesterday while refusing to acknowledge that the struggle is far from over. But at least they made their contributions to the struggle yesterday.


History continues to reveal that not all travel the journey of the struggle for freedom and liberation until the end. Some transform from being patriots of yesterday to become traitors on the way while others become exhausted for lack of hope and simply give up. But the revolutionaries never give up.  Instead, they proceed with the journey towards the freedom and liberation of humanity throughout their lives. And so the struggle for national and social liberation of Kenya, Africa, and the world ultimately culminating into socialism and communism that today is spearheaded by CPK continues and, inevitably must continue.


Many comrades were in the struggle with us. Together we struggled in student politics and also in the covert underground  'December Twelfth Movement' and M'wakenya' and are not alive today. Some were tortured to death. Others died in prison or exile or as a consequence of the psychological and physical injuries they suffered from the various persecutions perpetrated upon them by the Moi - KANU regime. I will always love and cherish these comrades as peoples' heroes. These include the followong: Karimi Nduthu, Ngugi Gupta, Mwakudua Ringoma Mwachofi, Muhoro Githirwa, Adhu Awiti, Mzee Mbewa,  Kariuki Gathitu, Mwamba Shete, Njuguna Mutahi, Kaara Macharia, Peter Young Kihara, Kariuki Gathitu, Jimmy Mturukana, David Onyango Oloo, Kahuha from Kiambaa, Gerald Mghanga, Wahome Mutahi, Egadwa Maragoli, Jazrae Ndawiro, Mwanyama Shadrack, Odindo Opiata, Oyangi Mbajs, Simon Gicheha, Kinywa wa Nyeri, Gibson Maina Karanja, Gitau wa Muimoto, Ojijo of Gem, to mention but a few.


Our struggle was not in vain. Our heroes did not suffer arrest, torture, detention, imprisonment, all manner of persecution, and death for nothing. Through their contributions, we achieved democratic and progressive reforms, including multi-partyism, enhanced human rights, and the 2010 constitution. 


When we organised and struggled underground and distributed the then proscribed 'Pambana' and 'Mwakenya' leaflets we were mocked, cursed, and hunted like wild animals. Then it was seen as a crime to fight dictatorship in the form of KANU and a one-party system. What is important to remember is that the leaders of the political parties of the ruling class popularized by the national intelligence services, the press, and the state, Kalozo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Gideon Moi, Moses Wetangula, Uhuru Kenyatta, and many around Raila Odinga, and also third President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki, all considered us as dangerous criminals who deserved to be arrested, tortured and imprisoned. They were cowards, opportunists, and sycophants of the Moi KANU dictatorship who condemned us for demanding democratic reforms, including multi-partyism and human rights.  But we were not discouraged. Instead, we struggled despite the persecutions we underwent while believing that we were engaged in the just struggle that as patriots and revolutionaries could not afford to abscond. The revolutionary struggle that was hard, long, and protracted was just and historically inevitable and worth the sacrifice we made. We were struggling not only to liberate the exploited and oppressed but also the whole Kenyan society that includes the exploiters and oppressors themselves.


We were proved right. Towards the end of the 1980s, the Moi-KANU dictatorship was engulfing the whole society including his friends, tribesmen, religious leaders, business partners, and members of his class and politics party of KANU. Those who had been condemning and persecuting us came to agree that we were right in opposing the dictatorship and demanding democratic reforms. They agreed with us that there was the need to have multiparty democracy, human rights, and constitutional reforms. Today none of the leaders of the political parties of the press and the ruling class would wish or accept the return of one political party system or the era of blatant dictatorship. 


Yet, while we celebrate the political reforms we have achieved hitherto and are committed to consolidating them, still we continue with the struggle. For, unlike other political parties, coalitions, and formations, we the Communist Party of Kenya (CPK) are communist revolutionaries. And although as communist revolutionaries we have fought for the reforms and still support the struggle for more progressive reforms that will better the welfare of the masses of Kenyans even within the present neocolonial capitalist system, we at the same time do not believe or accept that the reforms are an end in themselves. Neither do we believe or agree that the struggle is over.


CPK's vision and mission are to remove the capitalist system and replace it with a higher and inevitable socio-political-economic system - socialism. So we continue with the struggle against corruption, inequality, poverty, backwardness, primitive accumulation, tribalism, gender inequality, all forms of discrimination and marginalisation of communities and individuals, and the system of exploitation and oppression of person by person. We demand land reforms that will provide land to all Kenyans who need it based on the principle of land to the tillers. We fight for wealth sharing and distributive justice that will ensure that all citizens and all who live in the country participate in creating the wealth from the natural, human, and other resources of the country and accruing direct and indirect benefits thereof equitably. In summary, CPK is engaged in the struggle for socialism. 


Looking back in history and the achievements we have made hitherto, we are sure that however hard and protracted the struggle for socialism appears, it will inevitably and of necessity come to be. This is because we do not and must not sleep. Rather we continue to organize and mobilize for socialism every day. And the objective conditions in Kenya and the world point to the truth that capitalism has failed to resolve the numerous problems and contradictions facing humanity today. It will inevitably be replaced by socialism.


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