Friday, January 04, 2008

Poetry Friday - Kenyan National Anthem

Today I'm going to post the lyrics to one of the most beautiful national anthems I know of, the one from Kenya. Unlike so many, this one isn't the least bit warlike or jingoistic. It's simply a prayer for God to bless the country. That's a prayer I am praying now.

According to Kenya-Information-Guide.com, "Prior to independence the government commissioned a five-member team to come up with a new anthem. The team was to incorporate traditional Kenyan music in the anthem, and ensure that the tune could be performed by a military band without distorting the original tone of the melody. The melody the team selected is based on a traditional folk song of the Pokomo, a small ethnic group in Kenya's Coast province."



When I was a child in Kenya, we sang the anthem often. I had to memorize the first verse in both English and Swahili for Guides. I don't know the rest of it by heart, but here's the whole thing in both languages (source kenya.rcbowen.com):

O God of all creation,
Bless this our land and nation.
Justice be our shield and defender,
May we dwell in unity,
Peace and liberty.
Plenty be found within our borders.

Let one and all arise
With hearts both strong and true.
Service be our earnest endeavour,
And our Homeland of Kenya,
Heritage of splendour,
Firm may we stand to defend.

Let all with one accord
In common bond united,
Build this our nation together,
And the glory of Kenya,
The fruit of our labour
Fill every heart with thanksgiving.



Ee Mungu nguvu yetu
Ilete baraka kwetu
Haki iwe ngao na mlinzi
Natukae na undugu
Amani na uhuru
Raha tupate na ustawi.

Amkeni ndugu zetu
Tufanye sote bidii
Nasi tujitoe kwa nguvu
Nchi yetu ya Kenya
Tunayoipenda
Tuwe tayari kuilinda.

Natujenge taifa letu
Ee, ndio wajibu wetu
Kenya istahili heshima
Tuungane mikono
Pamoja kazini
Kila siku tuwe na shukrani.


Amen. God bless Kenya.

This post is linked to Poetry Friday at A Year of Reading.

6 comments:

Mary Lee said...

Thank you. This is beautiful.

writer2b said...

Amazing! This brings tears to my eyes against the backdrop of the morning paper.

TadMack said...

This really is a simple and beautiful prayer -- I'm in the UK right now, and this is SO different from Hail Britannia or the American anthems, even. Thanks for sharing.

Liz in Ink said...

Thinking of Kenya...

Kelly Fineman said...

Beautiful. I've been thinking of the people of Kenya all week, and this is the perfect wish for them, I think.

Mitali Perkins said...

Peace be with the peoples of Kenya, and also with you.