In Summary
  • President Kenyatta’s “destiny speech” had familiar echoes in Winston Churchill’s eternal “Finest Hour” speech
  • President Kenyatta sees ICC as the greatest threat to Africa’s freedom
  • Kenya’s compliance with the ICC in the future is in serious doubt

“More than ever, our destiny is in our hands.” This was President Uhuru Kenyatta’s clarion cry in a fiery speech to an extra-ordinary summit of African leaders gathered in Addis Ababa Ethiopia on October 12, 2013.

As they would say in the Old American South, this was no ordinary moment when a “Negro was letting off Steam”.

The speech was delivered with the no-nonsense tone of Kenya’s new virulently nationalistic and pan-African foreign policy.

President Kenyatta’s “destiny speech” had familiar echoes in Winston Churchill’s eternal “Finest Hour” speech delivered on June 18, 1940 when Hitler’s imminent invasion became a great danger to Britain’s survival.

President Kenyatta seized the AU summit as a moment “to reflect on significant matters relating to the welfare and destiny of our nations and peoples.”

Like Churchill, President Kenyatta sees the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) and its American and European supporters as the greatest threat to Africa’s freedom, sovereignty and prosperity since the demise of colonialism.

Despite the imminent threat posed to him and Kenya by the ICC, President Kenyatta’s was not a cry-baby speech to his African peers.

Rather, in its distinct tone of a fiery African nationalist, the speech is reminiscent of those of his own father, Jomo Kenyatta, at Hyde Park London in the 1930s and 1940s against colonialism.

The Speech is a unique masterwork in the revolutionary oratory last heard on the floor of the OAU from from Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Guinea’s Ahmed Sekou Toure. It has the recognisable fieriness of Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

Optimistically, President Kenyatta painted Kenya’s experience with the ICC within the larger canvass of Africa’s epic struggle against imperialists and colonial interests.

ICC comes through as a mortal throwback to the years gone by when America and Europe “dominated and controlled,” “relentlessly exploited” and “divided and incited” the African people against one another.

A new leadership and Africa’s changing strategic fortunes global power relations is President Kenyatta’s best counterpoise to the ICC. “We are heirs of freedom fighters, and our founding fathers,” he declared.

In a clearly radical tone, he speaks of a continent witnessing the “spectacles of western decline”, the crashing of “the imperial exploiter…into the pits of penury” and the “arrogant world police” crippled by “shambolic domestic dysfunction” [read America’s shutdown].

Precisely a month before his date with ICC, President Kenyatta captures the court as a threat to a “proud, independent and sovereign nations and people.” It is a threat to a continent “on the rise” and “at the centre of global focus,” buoyed by unity and peace, “sufficient resources to invest in a prosperous future” and a leadership now taking proactive measures to ensure “prosperity in a peaceful home” for all.

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