Mzee Meza Galana was for the longest time credited with the composition. His heroic and legendary status was remembered and celebrated recently when he passed away on the 5th of this month. He had been hospitalised at the Hola district hospital.
And now, one Prof Washington Omondi has come out to claim that he was one of the composers and Mzee Galana was not.
In a strongly worded letter to media houses, Mr Washington writes, “I have been horrified to observe in the media reports this week that the composer of the Kenya National Anthem by the name of Mzee Meza Moroa Galana had died in Hola, Tana River county. I have also observed Reverend Thomas Kalume being attributed in a website as the sole composer of the said National Anthem.”
“I take this opportunity to correct the fallacy and misinformation. I was a member of the Commission that composed the National Anthem which comprised George Senoga-Zake, Peter Kibukosya, Thomas Kalume, me, Washington Omondi and Graham Hyslop who was our chairman. Rev Thomas Kalume did not work alone and Mzee Galana was never one of us. I do not know where the media houses got that misinformation which was even passed on to His Excellency the President, compelling him to send a message of condolence as well as a gift to the family.”
He added, “It is important for the media houses to ascertain facts when reporting so as not to mislead the public or to distort history. In this particular case, the facts are available in the Kenya Gazette of July 26th 1963; Kenya News- Independence Celebrations Press Release No 6 ; Daily Nation and the East African Standard of Saturday July 27th 1963; Taifa Leo of September 26th 1963; the Souvenir Programme of Kenya Independence Celebrations among others.”
Omondi also shared a letter from President Jomo Kenyatta, in which he thanked Washington and his team for their work.
Washington also had a word of advice to “Parliament, the Chief Justice, the Attorney General and the general Kenyan public that the word we used in the first stanza of the Kiswahili version was “Udugu” which was subsequently enshrined in the original Constitution of Kenya. This has now been changed to “Undugu” in the present constitution! Please rectify.”