Quest for Anthem Uniting East Africans Gains Momentum
The search for the East Africa political federation’s National Anthem is on.
The East African political federation is the regional intergovernmental organization of the Republics of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, with its Headquarters located in Arusha, Tanzania. The East African Heads of State signed the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community in Arusha on 30th November 1999.
Six songs in English and Kiswahili by different composers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have already been proposed and will be short-listed for further approval. Among the proposed anthems presented by Mamlaka choir at the Kenya National Theatre included East Africa land of Peace and Unity, Tupendane Tuungane Pamoja, Tupendane sote, East Africa bound forever. Others proposed songs presented by the choir led by its director Ernest Okumu Waomba were, Mungu Ibariki Jumuia ya Afrika Mashariki, and Jumuia ya Afrika ya Mashariki. Already, residents of the three East African states have been presented with the six proposed anthems simultaneously, which were selected from a list of 90 songs.
Kenya’s East Africa Community minister John Koech said a uniform national anthem would go a long way in strengthening the corporation among the East Africans. The three East African countries cover an area of 1.8 million square kilometers and have a population of 82 million who share a common history, language, culture and infrastructure. These advantages provide the Partner States with a unique framework for regional co-operation and integration.
“By the end of March we will emerge with the most challenging and inspiring song for the East African community,” Koech said.
Composers of the songs and their resident countries were however not disclosed in order to make the vetting process free from any bias. A technical committee in the three East Africa countries will then come up with three songs, which will be presented to the heads of states of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
The Committee on Fast Tracking East African Federation started its work in Arusha on 21 September 2004 when it picked its Chairman and adopted its programme of
work. The Members of the Committee are Hon Amos Wako (Kenya’s Attorney General), who was elected Chairman of the Committee, Prof. H.K. Amani (Tanzania), who was elected Vice Chairman; and Dr Ezra Suruma (Uganda) who was elected Secretary of the Committee. Associate Members of the Committee are Ms Margaret Chemengich (Kenya), Prof. Sam Tulya-Muhika (Uganda), and Mr. Mohamed Fakih Mohamed (Tanzania).The Members of the Committee were appointed by the respective Heads of State.
“The three presidents will then choose one of the three songs which will eventually become the federation’s national anthem,” Koech said.
The presidents will launch the selected song as the federation’s national anthem in April.
The Kenyan technical committee will from February this year proceed to learning institutions, churches, and market places military barracks to get votes on the six songs.
Kenya’s Permanent secretary in charge of EAC affairs Mrs. Rachael Nzomo said, “The process is intended to be taken up to the grassroots level”.
The minister announced that the three governments are fast tracking the formation of the federation with Rwanda and Burundi is expected to come aboard with a population of 115 million by June this year.
“As we become many in East Africa, we create a bigger impact in the African region,” Koech said.
In addition, East Africans will be the ones to have a final say on whether to enter into a political federation or not. According to Koech, the collapse of the previous East Africa Community was caused by failure by the governments of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to consult their citizens.
A National consultative committee on fast tracking the East African political federation has already been inaugurated.The committee is tasked with sensitizing the public and receiving memoranda on the principles underlying the proposed federation.The exercise is expected to stimulate awareness and participation of Kenyans on social, economic and political benefits of the political federation to ensure sustainability.
The committee has until the end of April to create awareness and collect Kenyans views on the proposed federation. Uganda and Tanzania started collecting views from their citizens in October when the East Africa heads of state launched the exercise simultaneously.The committee report would form the basis of deliberations at an EAC regional workshop that will consolidate findings from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.This will be subsequently considered by an extra ordinary summit of the heads of state scheduled for July.
Questionnaires would be used to gauge whether Kenyans support or oppose a federation.However, according to Koech, some clauses in the treaty for the establishment of the EAC treaties like the mode of nomination of MPs to the East African legislative assembly might be reviewed ahead of the federation.
The main organs of the EAC are the Summit of Heads of State and or Government; Council of Ministers; Co-ordination Committee; Sectoral Committees; East African Court of Justice, East African Legislative Assembly; and the Secretariat.
Prior to re-launching the East African Community in 1999, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda had enjoyed a long history of co-operation under successive regional integration arrangements.These included the Customs Union between Kenya and Uganda in 1917, which the then Tanganyika later joined in 1927; the East African High Commission (1948-1961); the East African Common Services Organization (1961-1967); the East African Community (1967-1977), and the East African Co-operation (1993-1999).The regional co-operation and integration envisaged in the EAC is broad based, covering trade, investments and industrial development; monetary and fiscal affairs; infrastructure and services; human resources, science and technology; agriculture and food security;
environment and natural resources management; tourism and wildlife management; and health, social and cultural activities.
Other areas of co-operation include free movement of factors of production; and co-operation in political matters, including defense, security, foreign affairs, legal and judicial affairs.The core budget of the EAC’s Secretariat is funded by equal contributions from the Partner States. Regional projects and programmes are funded through the mobilization of resources from both within and outside the region.
Khamala Otieno is Mshale's correspondent in the East African region. He has extensive experience working with the leading dailies in East Africa.