Man opposes bid to remove ‘harambee’ from coat of arms

Man opposes bid to remove ‘harambee’ from coat of arms
BENSON MATHEKA

By BENSON MATHEKA
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A Kenya designer has opposed a proposal seeking to remove the word ‘harambee’ from the coat of arms on claims that it has brought bad omen to the country.

Mr Solomon Kiore says the coat of arms is a piece of art that was meant to promote harmony and cohesion and it should not be interfered with.

In submissions presented to Parliament, Mr Kiore, the founder and director of Funcorn Limited, a pioneer furniture design firm, says a proposal by Mr Charles Mangua should not be admitted.

Art and design illustrations, he says, are based on facts and are good to look at.

“More significantly, they promote harmony and cohesion in a society by marrying the society’s heritage, its present and its future. Art and design articulate a society’s identity, and give it a sense of purpose, pride, hope and direction,” Mr Kiore states in his submission to Parliament.

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In his proposal, Mr Mangua claimed that he had received a revelation from God that tragedy would befall the country if the word ‘harambee’ is not removed and replaced with ‘Kenya’.

He claimed that God was not happy with the continued use of the word, and that Parliament should urgently review its usage.

His proposal draws from the preamble of the Kenyan Constitution, which acknowledges “the supremacy of the Almighty God of all creation”.

But Mr Kiore told Parliament that all over the world, all countries have used art and design to articulate the values on which their survival, strengths, hopes and identity rest.

“Any interfering with the instruments of authority of the Republic of Kenya would cost this country trillions of shillings,” he says.

Mr Kiore, who also researches on art and design, was one of the artists who, during the 2010 debate on changing the constitution, defended the word ‘harambee’ from those who wanted it expunged from the country’s lexicon on grounds that its origins are suspect.

Harambee has become part of the Kenyan society with several landmarks, including Kenya’s national football team, bearing its name.

“The Kenyan emblem is a result of art and design and its value is enormous and cannot be associated with superstition as its graphics is based on reality of historical events hence it passes the test of copyrighting,” says Mr Kiore.

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