Kenyan National Anthem Composer Washington Omondi Claims Swahili Version Change Unconstitutional

  • As Kenyan celebrate Madaraka Day today, 1st of June, the man who participated in the composition of the national anthem in 1963, Prof Washington Omondi, is an unhappy man.

    According to Prof Omondi, words in the Kiswahili version of the national anthem have been changed without the consultation of the original composers-Graham Hyslop, George Senoga-Zake, Peter Kibukosya and Thomas Kalume.

    Omondi stated that the Swahili version was immensely contributed by Mr Kalume who had settled on the word "udugu", meaning bond, as the fulcrum on which the anthem should revolve.

    He pointed out that the original word, 'udugu', had since been replaced with 'undugu', which would mean brotherhood against their wishes.

    Omondi revealed that there was no consultation when the change was made and did not involve the stakeholders who participated in the process including the Kenyan people.

    "I have realised the original word, 'udugu', has since been replaced with 'undugu', which would mean brotherhood,

    “That is not what the composers intended. I am asking those responsible to ensure that it is changed and the original word is reinstated, otherwise, this is tantamount to changing the Constitution without involving the people," said Omondi.

    Omondi, who was part of the five-man team that composed the patriotic song ahead of Kenya's independence after he was summoned to Nairobi in May 1963 by pioneer Education Minister Joseph Otiende.

    Mr Otiende mandated him and four others to compose the anthem for which they wrote the lyrics, borrowed a tune from a Mijikenda lullaby and presented the anthem to former President Jomo Kenyatta in Gatundu in August 1963.

    It was then unanimously voted for after which it was recorded.

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