Forward to Independence book by Fitz de Souza
Fitz de Souza?s memoirs recount a political story woven through a personal account of migration and integration, with both the hardship and hope that this entailed. His account takes us from Asia to Africa and then to Europe before returning to East Africa where he lived for most of his life. It gives a flavour of lifestyles, moral codes, and politics as they were in early 20th century India, 1930s Zanzibar, and Europe after the war. Most importantly, it takes us to that formative time when the foundations were laid for an independent Kenya, giving the reader a window into those last decades of colonial Africa and those early years of the new nation.
The transition was not a peaceful one. It was not a time when the ?rule of law? was applied in an undiluted sense. The book gives the inside story of the colonial government?s handling of the independence movement including the trial of the Kapenguria six, Jomo Kenyatta and fellow nationalists, and Operation Anvil, the round-up of the Mau Mau.
It explains how agreement was eventually reached and compromises found, in particular through the Lancaster House conferences, that enabled a new country to be founded. It portrays the politicians of the time, before independence and after, some hugely idealistic, some charismatic, and others forever enigmatic, many of whose lives in those formative years ended in tragedy. Hilary Ng?weno, a highly regarded Kenyan journalist and editor, provided invaluable support: ?I interviewed him many times, so that the interviews, which were recorded, could help him in writing his memoirs.
That exercise was an eye opener for me. I had never met an elderly person who could remember so many details about his past. He was remembering personalities and events of the years before and soon after Kenya?s independence in 1963 and Fitz wasn?t just remembering events touching on his life. He was remembering Kenya?s history of which he was one of the great makers. The story you read in this book is not just about Fitz. It is a story about the foundations of the Kenya nation. And it is for that reason that I feel very strongly that Fitz Remedios Santana de Souza will forever remain a legend for many Kenyans.? David Steel, The Rt Hon. the Lord Steel of Aikwood, a close personal friend, commented: ?This is a remarkable book, beautifully written and describing in graphic detail the author?s experience of the transition of Kenya from violence-torn colony to independence. Fitz de Souza speaks with authority as one active at the centre from lawyer to Jomo Kenyatta to Deputy Speaker in the Nairobi Parliament.
His sketches of the participants are quite breath-taking and moving. His is a life lived to the full ? I could not put it down and read it all in just two sittings.? In her introduction, Victoria Brittain, former foreign correspondent for The Guardian in East Africa, writes: ?Fitz de Souza is a man of memories from his unique insider/outsider status in Kenya?s struggle for independence from Britain and the early days of its uncharted path under Jomo Kenyatta. A vanished world of optimism and idealism rooted in Goa, Zanzibar, Kenya?s Rift Valley, London?s Inns of Court, and the dying days of British colonial rule in Kenya is unveiled in his subtle understated book.