FREEDOM

All that was missing was the title. Buchman had already thought that it should be Freedom, but he did not want to impose his ideas. After some discussion among the Africans produced no clear idea, he suggested, 'Why not see which word comes most often in the text?' They counted, and found that 'freedom' appeared forty-eight times. It was adopted unanimously.

Amata continues, 'Then Frank said, "Fine. We'll have it tomorrow night." Somehow we managed it. After the performance he announced, "This play will go on at the Westminster Theatre in London a week today."' That, too, took place.

Jomo Kenyatta introducing MRA speakers at his school

Those Africans stayed together and took their play round the world. Later it was made into a full-length colour film, the first made by Africans, and was adopted by a number of countries as their national film for showing on state occasions. It is still being shown in many languages.

Kenya in the years immediately before independence felt its effect. Some of Buchman's colleagues in Kenya had known Jomo Kenyatta and the British leaders involved long before Mau Mau broke out in 1952, but little discernible impression was being made upon the situation there. Then in 1954 the colonel in charge of the Mau Mau rehabilitation camp at Athi River took the unusual step of admitting to the detainees that he felt that arrogance and selfishness in people like himself had helped to create the atmosphere which gave rise to Mau Mau. He offered from now on to work with anyone, black or white, who wished to rebuild Kenya on the basis of Moral Re-Armament. By July 1954 The Times13 was reporting that 270 hard-core detainees at that camp had severed their connections with Mau Mau. By 1955 the number was 600. Two of them wrote to Buchman, 'If Moral Re-Armament can change hard-core Mau Mau like ourselves who were full of hatred...it can change any sort of hard-core hearts.'14

It was two of these men who, with the permission of the British authorities, took the film of Freedom to Kenyatta in his lonely imprisonment. They showed it to him in English, but it had already been translated into Swahili, and now Kenyatta asked that a Swahili version should be made and used in Kenya. Stanley Kinga, one of the former Mau Mau, had gone to Buchman earlier, saying. 'We have had guidance from God to translate Freedom into Swahili but we don't know where to get the money.' 'Well,' Buchman had replied, 'you have had guidance to translate the film, now you can have guidance where to get the money from.' The money was raised, Freedom was dubbed into Swahili, and it was shown to a million Kenyans in the months before the first elections, in the open air, in cinemas, and in homes. The Reporter of Nairobi wrote in the spring of 1961,'MRA has done a great deal to stabilise our recent election campaign.'15 That summer Kenyatta sent his daughter Margaret, recently elected Mayor of Nairobi, to Caux.

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Photo: Jomo Kenyatta introduces MRA speakers at his teacher-training school in Kenya.
┬ęDavid C. Sturdy/MRA Productions