THE East African Community (EAC) Anthem was adopted by the East African Community Summit on December 3, 2010. The next step is to grant it legal protection for its operation and usage. The adopted version was in Swahili, the lingua franca of the EAC.
The following English translation is not the official translation; it is a literal one merely to enable you appreciate the meaning of the content:
We should protect/guard our Community
We should be committed and stand strong
Our unity is our anchor
Long live our community
Oh God we pray
For preservation of the East African Community;
Enable us to live in peace;
May we fulfil our objectives;
Patriotism and togetherness
Be the pillars of our unity
May we guard our independence and peace
Our culture and traditions
In industries and farms
We should work together
We should work hard
We should build a better Community.
Jumuiya Yetu sote tuilinde
Umoja wetu ni nguzo yetu
Idumu Jumuiya yetu.
Ee Mungu twakuomba ulinde
Jumuiya Afrika Mashariki
Tuwezeshe kuishi kwa amani
Tutimize na malengo yetu.
Uzalendo pia mshikamano
Viwe msingi wa Umoja wetu
Natulinde Uhuru na Amani
Mila zetu na desturi zetu.
Viwandani na hata mashambani
Tufanye kazi sote kwa makini
Tujitoe kwa hali na mali
Tuijenge Jumuiya bora.
The adoption of an EAC Anthem marks yet another distinct milestone in the integration process. The term "anthem" is currently used more often to denote a song in which words affirm a collective identity, usually expressing attachment to the same nation, institution or cause.
In reference to collective identity, this is expressed in the very first paragraph of the Treaty for Establishment of the EAC which states, " the people of the East African Community have enjoyed close historical, commercial, industrial, cultural and other ties for many years". The preamble enumerates formal economic and social integration in the East African region commencing with, among other things:
- The construction of the Kenya-Uganda Railway as far back as 1897-1901;
- The establishment of the Customs Collection Centre 1900;
- The East African Currency Board 1905;
- The Postal Union 1905;
- The East African Governors Conference 1926; the East African Income Tax Board 1940; and the Joint Economic Council 1940.
An anthem expresses attachment to the same nation, institution or cause. The cause of the East African Community is to develop policies and programmes aimed at widening and deepening cooperation among partner states in political, economic, social and cultural fields, research and technology, defence, security and legal and judicial affairs, for mutual benefit.
In order to achieve deeper cooperation in all fields for mutual benefit, the East African partner states undertook to establish a Customs Union, a Common Market, subsequently a Monetary Union and ultimately a Political Federation in order to attain accelerated, harmonious and balanced development and sustained expansion of economic activities, the benefits of which are to be equitably shared. The opening chorus of the East African Anthem calls upon all East Africans to action- to guard and protect the Community. It calls for accountability, unity and boldness in order to build a sustainable Community.
The first stanza implores God's protection and a plea for peace so that the set objectives are met; while the second stanza focuses on citizenship as well as unity as the cornerstone; with a pledge to protect independence, norms and values. The third and last stanza is a call for diligent action wherever we are employed, and self-sacrifice in order to build a better Community.
Indeed the words of the anthem affirm a collective identity and express attachment to the same nation, institution and cause. What remains is for this anthem to be recognised by enacting a legal framework. The tune of the anthem can be accessed on the East African Community website. The legal framework will, according to the programme, be presented to the East African Legislative Assembly in April.
Modalities for popularising it should be use of the media extensively and its inclusion in the school curricula and by playing it at every occasion that the National Anthems of the East Community partner states are played.
Now is the time for each of us to learn its Swahili version of the East African Community Anthem - so that when it is officially launched our voices will carry the message far and wide- across the African continent and beyond. Adoption of an East African Anthem is a stepping stone to the ultimate goal- Political Federation. May we live to see that day!