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February 18th, 2023

By Cde. Booker Omole, National Vice-Chairperson, the Communist Party of Kenya 

"The Kenyan workers and peasants led by the Communist Party of Kenya (CPK) and all revolutionaries and progressives will continue to immortalise Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi—our true national hero. We shall continue to demand that the former colonial power, imperial Britain identify the grave of Dedan at the Kamiti Maximum Prison so that those who love freedom and peace can give him a dignified burial."

A hero is born.

On this day, February 18th, 1957, the vulturine army of the British colonial empire executed the Kenyan national liberation hero and the Kenya Land and Freedom Army leader, Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi.

Kimathi was born on October 31st 1920, in Tetu Division, Gatanga Sub-location in Nyeri. 1920 was a historic moment in our country: it was the year when Kenya, which the British empire had ruled as a protectorate since 1888, was declared a British colony. Kimathi, born in a time of atrocity and escalating theft, exploitation and brutality, chose to become the faithful friend of the poor landless people and the British killed him for it.

Under the dictatorship of the white British minority rule in Kenya, the minority imposed their will upon the native majority with an iron fist. This was rationalized through self-serving and unjust colonial laws they brought with them and enforced by the colonial state machinery- the army and the police. It was a bloody occupation that forced the natives to leave their lands in order to become serfs and squatters in the colonial plantations. These colonial plantations were the very lands that the foreigners had stolen from the natives. To keep things going, the British predators meted such physical and mental pain upon the natives that most of the horrors remain sealed to this day. In other words, it was a white settler colonialism per excellence.

As the oppression and exploitation were perfected on one pole, the other pole was the unity of the dispossessed in opposition to the social, economic and political subordination and domination. This led to a protracted war of impendence led by the nationalists and the peasant's movements led by Dedan Kimathi on the other.  

What lessons can we learn from the life of Dedan Kimathi?

There is a lot that revolutionaries can learn from the life of Kimathi.

1.      Political Education

Colonial education alienated most of the population from education, and the few enrolled were miseducated to maintain the status quo of British white settler domination. Kimathi, as a youth, rolled out night classes to educate the people and propagate anti-establishment ideas. Today the Communist Party of Kenya is walking in the footsteps of Kimathi through the party school to counter the miseducation of the neo-colonial dictatorship.

We must consistently move from theory to practice in waging a struggle. For a moment, the theory is primacy before it becomes it's opposite and gives way to the primacy of practice; it continues in an endless cyclic dialectical manner. In Lenin's words, a revolution can never be without a revolutionary theory. It is in the theory that we also realise Fidel Castro's dream of the battle of ideas. The cadres within the party must continue to inspire the masses to pursue liberating revolutionary knowledge and humble themselves to learn from the masses.

Fanon had a very clear understanding of political education. He argued that educating masses politically does not mean and cannot only mean making political speeches. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends with them: That if we stagnate, it is their responsibility, and if we go forward, it is due to them too. That there is no such thing as a hero that will save them with his magic hands, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, that the hero is the people themselves, and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people.

In our party, comrades, we are clear that it is only through building the democratic power of the oppressed people of the world that we can restore the dignity of humankind. This day is essential to the party, with the ongoing rectification program to weed wrong conceptions within our ranks and to destroy the college of the minority that sees participation in the bourgeoisie government as a viable alternative to the working class. In Kimathi's time, we had the soulless home guards who sold out the struggle; today, we have the petty bourgeoisie opportunists and revisionists led by the young Wachira and his ideologue Mghanga as the most significant danger to the unity of our movement. These infantile 'comrades' who want to drag our legacy in mud and auction the entire movement at a price using bourgeois legality must face the wrath of the Kenyan masses. We must continue to fight them and defeat their ideas. 


2.      Resist oppression

To fight is not wrong; we fight because something is wrong, and we fight to right the wrong. This is the spirit of the freedom fighters led by Dedan Kimathi. In his life, Kimathi was rebellious both in the colonial school and during his brief service in the colonial army. With all his limitations, he rejected the systemic brutality of the colonial system at an individual level and chose to organise to defeat it.

This is the clarion call of the party that the oppressors will never give us a licence in the form of legality to overthrow their class; the laws are interpreted to defeat the course of justice and in favour of the oppressor. The Communist Party of Kenya calls on all the oppressed masses of our motherland to stand up to be counted in their contribution to defeating the current neo-colonial state and the comprador class that manages it. If we fight, we can succeed, and if we all work honestly, we can see some changes in our lifetime.


3.      The organisation is the Key

Kimathi joined the democratic mass organisation of the Kenyan People – Kenya African Union (KAU). This is extremely important because we cannot fight repression as individuals; sometimes, individuals contribute significantly to the struggle, but those individuals must be part of the collective. If you don't like the currently existing organisations, kindly form one.

Also, don't look for a perfect organisation; just identify some minimums and join an organisation to build and change it. Some of these bare minimums must include anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and so forth, as long as you are not joining an outright bourgeoisie kleptocracy with the hope of changing it. It is essential to mention this because some old comrades are so lost in this fantastical thinking that they have fallen into a well of their own making. They are busy serving the oppressing class while writing a heap of garbage as revolutionary ideas. Such calibres are the reactionary paper tigers, the armchair revolutionaries whose job is to give credit to the oppressors as being 'accommodating' to the others. To do that is to join the wrong class solidarity. We have a lot to learn from history on such acts of opportunism.

Dedan Kimathi joined KAU to speak against colonialism; he didn't join the colonising force to appeal to their conscience to set the Kenyans free. He was never afraid to show his hatred of oppression. To hate oppression and exploitation in all forms and to love justice is a good thing for us in the movement.


4.      Sacrifice

To be a patriot or a revolutionary, one must always be willing to put the interest of the majority before his own interest. To be a revolutionary is a lifelong commitment. In his younger days, Kimathi worked as a clerk who constantly moved from one job to the other because he was always in confrontation with his bosses. In the end, Kimathi paid the ultimate price; he was hanged by the neck to death. He was martyred in dignity.  

To be a revolutionary is to serve the poor masses, always willing to give up one's job or comfortable family life for the sake of the struggle. In the Communist Party of Kenya, we constantly remind ourselves that if we cannot tweet, post online party propaganda, pay membership dues or recruit a new cadre, then we are not true pupils of our freedom heroes. We must always be willing to do more in the struggle.


5.      Humbleness and hard work

No work is big, small or menial; all cadres must be prepared to serve in whatever capacity. When duty calls, cadres can be called upon to do pamphleteering or organise a small fighting unit or community clean up. Kimathi started his work as an ordinary member before becoming a political teacher in KAU. When he attained political maturity, he took on a higher task in the party. He was elected the General Secretary of the KAU Murang'a branch. No job was big or small for Kimathi.

We have seen comrades who only want to sit in the offices to make statements and command others to do all the work while they are unwilling to make their hands dirty. They always demand from comrades what they don't do themselves. They are hopeless talkers but not doers. Such are the sources of wrong ideology in the party. We should always be on the lookout for such persons; they are a poison to unity. Sooner or later, they form factions based on friendship and compartmentalise the party. Those are our enemies; they should never be allowed to climb the leadership ladder. To be a son of maumau is to be willing to donate oneself to the struggle of the poor people.  

Some comrades cannot imagine being in the party if they are not in leadership; they try to include dishonest ways to be in the leadership as much as possible. I remember a chat I had with a comrade a few months in the run-up to the General Elections. He was somewhat worried about the young cadres taking tasks in the party. According to him, he was a giraffe, a born leader capable of seeing miles away before anyone could see. He could not think of serving under anyone else. He wondered how a young cadre could attain revolutionary maturity more than him, the giraffe, who has been in the party since its inception. Such attitudes are not of a revolutionary and should be discouraged and corrected in our ranks.


6.      We must start to organise where we are

Kimathi organised at his home area before he could rise in the party ranks to the national level. Comrades must be organisers where they live, work or study. We cannot be revolutionary only when we are with comrades. Some comrades are very active at the national level but are alienated from the realities of grassroots organising. If we organise at the grassroots, we get the necessary experience as party organisers and climb up the party's leadership ladder.


Long live, Mau Mau!

Long live Dedan Kimathi!

Long live Martyrdom!


….. End …. 

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