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Petition over word ‘harambee’ splits senators

By Daniel Psirmoi | Published Thu, February 15th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 14th 2018 at 22:40 GMT +3
Some legislators want 'harambee' expunged from the National Court of Arms. [Courtesy]

Senators were yesterday split over a petition seeking to have the word 'harambee' expunged from the National Court of Arms.

In his petition introduced in the Senate yesterday, Isaac Aluochier, also wants the word deleted from the Public Seal.

His argument is that ‘harambee’ refers to a Hindu goddess.

Jubilee Party senators supported the petition as their Opposition counterparts dismissed it as a waste of time.

“If the term 'harambee' offends many Kenyans, then it is right for this House to investigate it and if we agree, change it,” said Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu).

“We should consider Aluochier's views. He is Kenyan and deserves to be heard. This is part of representation,” added Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho).

But Senate Leader of Minority Moses Wetang’ula (Bungoma) said the petition was "misguided".

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"Language is dynamic and words get borrowed from different languages every day," he said.

“This is a clearly misguided petition. It is compiled on the basis of the narrow-minded thinking that language does not grow."

Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni) said it would be a tragedy to amend the Constitution on the grounds stated by the petitioner.

“We will not look serious, as a House, in the eyes of the public. If we agree with the petitioner, then we will be forced to remove the word, not only from the Coat of Arms and Public Seal, but also our constitution and textbooks, which will be expensive,” he said.

Enoch Wambua (Kitui), Fred Outa (Kisumu) and Naomi Waqo (nominated) said it would not be proper to delete the word, which has been in use since the reign of President Jomo Kenyatta.

Speaker Ken Lusaka directed the Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs and Human Rights to look into the petition and present a report in 60 days. 

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