Kenya’s was the first anthem in Africa to be written by a group commissioned by the government. One of the goals of the group was to incorporate traditional Kenyan music in the anthem, the resulting anthem, therefore, has a very African feel to it, a typical example of the “Eastern folk” style of anthem. The melody is actually based on a traditional Kenyan folk song, sung by mothers to their children.

Other criteria the group was charged with to create the anthem was that the tune had to be of the right length and quality, yet possesing the necessary dignity. It also had to lend itself to having words written for it, in both English and Swahili (the official languages of the country). The words had to unify the nation, yet contain the aspirations of the whole country. And the melody had to be able to be performed by a military band, without impairing the original feel of the song. With all those goals in mind, the anthem was ready in time for independence in December, 1963.

Special thanks to: Jo Hyo-roe for the sheet music.