In 1976, former Ugandan President Idi Amin’s threat to march to within 32 kilometres of Nairobi to reclaim parts of Nyanza and Rift Valley, was met by unqualified fury by Kenya’s first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
In a Massive rally at Uhuru Park, Kenyatta gave a response which included one of the most strongly worded speeches he had ever given.
Kenyatta had spent a number of years in Britain in the lead up to the Second World War and his oratory had echoes of Sir Winston Churchill’s speeches to the nation when Britain faced an invasion from Hitler’s army.
He spoke, not just to the military, but to the entire nation declaring that defending the country’s borders was a collective endeavour.
It is reported that the speech unleashed a strong wave of patriotism that saw anti-Amin demonstrations held in nearly every town in the country.
“There are people that are envious of our independence and sovereignty,” he began.
“But whoever they are, black or white, I warn them that I am warlike, and we will not tolerate anyone playing about with our sovereignty.
“I wish to warn those who may have designs on Kenya that even if they have guns and warships we shall deal with them ruthlessly. All that counts is self-determination and willpower.
“Our obligation and commitment is to defend our independence and borders day and night. We are not interested in provoking anyone, but those who want to play about with Kenya must know that they will be dealt with ruthlessly.
“Kenya has no claims over anybody’s territory. We welcome good neighbourliness and cooperation. We shall, however, never entertain or tolerate anybody laying claims over our country, be they friend or a foe,” he stated.
“If we stay united we shall have nothing to fear. The world will know we are not joking. Any spies and agitators will be kicked out of the country.
“Those who say their country extends from present borders, I advise them to go to hell and dream there. We shall have no one lay claims over our territory. We shall not give away an inch, not even a quarter of an inch!” he fumed.
Kenyatta added, “We have no desire for anyone’s land and those who may have designs on ours must know we are ready to defend it”.
“In fact, those who are “payukaring” (talking loosely) are only shelling words because if they were to act they would be promoting the welfare of their citizens.
“Our forces are ready and wananchi will use spears, simis, arrows, rungus or even blows and kicks to repel any threat,” he concluded.
Reports indicate that the President was quite advanced in age and that was his only statement on the matter.