Class Struggle in Kenya and the Search for ‘Uhuru’ is the title of the first article in this issue of The Kenya Socialist. It is a review of Two Paths Ahead1 by Tom Odhiambo, which first appeared in the Saturday Nation of April 1, 2023. No, it was not an April Fool’s Day item, but a proper review of a serious book that looks at the struggle between socialism and capitalism in Kenya. This was perhaps the first admission in recent times in the public domain that there are classes in Kenya, that there is a class struggle in Kenya and that the search for uhuru continues. This may come as news to some, but not to the working people who have been reduced to dire living conditions by capitalism ever since it was imposed by Jomo Kenyatta — with the support of imperialism — at independence. Capitalism has caused the poverty, unemployment, lack of housing and medical care, landlessness and many other life-threatening features of life today. The struggle against capitalism and for socialism has also been sidelined bythe dictates of the ruling class. TKS is therefore pleased to include the review of the book in this issue. The headlines and the review of the book are, therefore, an important milestone in Kenya. The Kenya Socialist is pleased to highlight this fact by including another article on the struggle. It is the Kiswahili translation of the article, Two Paths Ahead for Kenya: Capitalism or Socialism by Otsieno Godrick whose first Kiswahili translation was carried in our last issue2.
Kimani Waweru then takes up an important topic — accumulation of capital, as it is the basis of capitalist exploitation of workers. No meaningful struggle against capitalism can be waged without an understanding how the system of exploitation works. Literature as a learning tool needs to be taken more seriously by those actively fighting capitalism. It is an under-valued resource by the Left, whose normal focus is on the more serious ideological and theoretical studies. Novels, short stories, poems can help to deepen the understanding of the reality of capitalist exploitation and people’s experience in resisting it.
The History and Ideology section starts with another chapter of the underground resistance in the 1980s and 1990s, looking at the formation of Umoja in London in 1987. This is the third article in a series, the others being on the December Twelve Movement, and MWAKENYA.
Understanding the role of trade unions in the liberation struggle is yet another area needing serious study. It is particularly important to see how the East African Trade Union Congress (EATUC), under Makhan Singh and Bildad Kaggia, skillfully combined industrial struggle with political struggle. Workers’ struggle for wages and decent work conditions cannot be won without becoming active in the political field as well as the ‘normal’ trade union work. The enforced withdrawal from political struggles as a key aspect of trade union work is a major shortcoming of trade union movements in Kenya and elsewhere, and the lessons from the EATUC need to inform today’s struggles.
Celebrating the life and work of Pio Gama Pinto has now become a normal feature of life in Kenya. It is common now to see the youth visiting his gravesite to learn about Pinto and to remember his struggle and sacrifice for working people or public meetings to discuss how his legacy can be realised. This year there was an additional event that took the life of Pio Gama Pinto to the public through a public exhibition. Zahid
Rajan and Zarina Patel report from the Exhibition. This is followed by selected PowerPoint slides from The Pio Gama Pinto Story: Legacy of Resistance in Kenya, based on the book Pio Gama Pinto: Kenya’s Unsung Martyr, 1927-1965.
Dorphan Mutuma is a well-known figure among youth and activists in Kenya. TKS is pleased to include two of his poems. This issue ends with a brief Book section.