Sunday, May 5, 2019

Fitz de Souza memoir ... a bestseller, surely

Forward to Independence, the long-awaited memoir by the outstanding Goan lawyer and parliamentarian, Fitz de Souza, is available on Amazon. I am absolutely delighted with it and I would urge anyone who has had even the flitting interest in Kenyan politics, Kenyan-Goan nostalgia and role that Fitz de Souza played in the early life independent Kenya … please read this book. It will also prove a worthwhile eye-opener for the sons and daughters and ex-East African Goans. Fitz has a delightful writing style, sort of emulates the person that he is. It is his journey which starts with his ancestors in Goa, his father’s move to Zanzibar and family’s life …and there is heaps and heap more revel in. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I am doing. The Kindle version is very inexpensive.
As an appetiser, Fitz, once and for all, smashes the myth (or demonisation or false accusation) the Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president belonged to Mau Mau freedom fighters. Here is an excerpt:

“Kenyatta would tell me many times, ‘Fitz, I am not the leader of Mau Mau, I do not believe in violence. I believe you can achieve your goals without violence. But in any political party there are always some who believe you have to go further, you have to fight, and I know who they are – they are my friends, they are in this party, they are with us all the time. But I am not going to do the job for the British Government and expose them and fight against them.’ When asked by the British to condemn those who practised violence, he would do so, but only in general terms, never naming names. ‘The British would like us [Africans] to fight with each other and make this into a semi-civil war; they killing our supporters and we killing their supporters, and I am not going to allow that at all. I know what I want and they know what they want, our objectives are the same…’ It seemed then that the only disagreement between Kenyatta and those who supported the Mau Mau was the means to those objectives. ‘They think I am too mild, and I think they are picking on something that is not necessary and creating too much pain and suffering.’

‘It was believed the actual leaders of the Mau Mau were Kubai and Kaggia. This surprised me, as Kaggia was one of the priestly types, with a church following. But why then, we asked, are you trying to prosecute Kenyatta? He replied that this was his instruction since the whole Kenyan African movement was seen as directly or indirectly part of the terrorist organisation. I understood later how those on the outside, probably because of Kenyatta’s effervescent personality and his long campaign for land reform, might have assumed this. People were certainly inspired by him, but if it went further and aroused them to violence, was that his responsibility? It is important here to remember the frightening nature of the Mau Mau, and how any connection to them, however tenuous, could utterly poison a person’s reputation. The atrocities themselves were terrifying enough, but alongside the slaughter and intimidation of fellow Africans, the secret rituals, taking the oath while drinking the blood of a cow, a cat or even a human, however exaggerated in the public imagination, opened a deeper dimension, with haunting ideas of ‘black magic’, dehumanisation and a reversion to centuries-old barbarities.

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