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Africa has many Gandhis

Africa has many Gandhis whereas India had one. All their leaders are from the ranks of their intellectuals, martyrs, poets, and writers. The martyrdom of Patrice Lumumba is the shining star in the firmament of sacrifice. All their leaders suffered brutal treatment and incarceration at the hands of their foreign rulers, dedicated their lives for the emancipation of their people, identifying themselves with the oneness of mankind. That is why there is forgiveness in them. Here is the note from Senghor’s poem: “Lord the mirror of my eyes clouds over and there is the serpent of hate raising his head in my heart the serpent whom I had believed dead… kill it, O lord, for I must continue on my way and I want to pray particularly for France..Oh! I know she is also part of Europe, that she has stolen my children as a robber from the north takes cattle, to enrich her lands with sugar cane and cotton for the Negro’s sweat is manure; that she also brought death and the cannon into my blue villages; that she set my people one against the other like dogs fighting over a bone; that she treated resistance as banditry, and spat on the heads that dreamt of greatness; yes lord, forgive France who preaches the straight path but takes the crooked one herself… and my Mesopotamia, of my Congo, they have made a great cemetery beneath the white sun.’’
Jomo Kenyatta is a great name to know. He is an intellectual with boundless ability for powerful expression in language and action. From his own experience he says, “Politics is an arena with formidable pitfalls for the man of ideals. Yet without some driving force of idealism, the politician is a sterile man.” Kenyatta is truly the son of his soil. He says “In a life of close association with the soil of Kenya, I have found joy and humility in the seasonal rhythms both of plant and of animal life and in the crafts of careful husbandry.”
There are many common features in the two personalities of Kenyatta and Gandhi, the father of our nation. Kenyatta says, “ I go into the farms or into the homes of the people, not as royalty bestowing condescension, but unaffectedly, understanding and sharing the tempo and tribulations of their lives. I have never grown away from the people and at massive rallies we meet on common ground as fellowmen. They know me best as I have always been; as one of them.” He expressed his robust faith in democracy saying, “No man has ever devised any wiser criterion for national direction of public affairs than government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” A relentless worker in the service of his people, Kenyatta says, “ I believe in the fullest utilisation of each fleeting day, of all the deadly sins, that of sloth seems to me the most contemptible, a flouting of the very purpose of creation.”
How profound is his voice and how powerful is his expression! His statements come from the depths of his realised experience. “The proclamations of love, joy and generosity would have appeared naďve, were they not concrete outcomes of a very real and harrowing experience,” Says Mazisi Kunene of South Africa.
-Seshendra Sharma

(From Seshendra Sharma poet’s notebook: ARC OF BLOOD-1974)

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