The Untold Story Of The Man Who Gave Us The National Anthem

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Now, many of you might be singing your national anthem  day in and day out. And while you could love every bit of it, did you ever wonder who write it?

The Tale of the Person who wrote Kenya’s National Anthem

Back in the 1950s, when Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, the then president of Kenya approached Tom Mboya, former minister for Constitutional Affairs to find a team that’ll compose the country’s national anthem, he was confused how to start the process. Graham Hyslop was included in the team first because he was Mboya’s best friend and also the Inspector of Music and Drama for the Ministry of Education.  And while you may always want to play your favorite games online at, you might just want to know more about this man first.

All About Graham Hyslop that You Need to Know

Hyslop was only 26-years old when he came to Kenya and decided to settle in Nairobi where he taught music and also wrote books including Folk Music of East Africa and Musical Instruments of East Africa. In Nairobi, Hyslop worked as an organist and choirmaster for All Saints Cathedral. Another reasons for him being selected in team were his love for Kenyan music and culture and the how effortlessly he combined Kenyan traditional music and Christian choral music.

Mboya’s committee came up with the idea of hosting a nationwide contest but it was shot down, since the minister was convinced that if they were to do so, Odiero would definitely win it. Mboya went to Washington Omondi, professor and music expert and George Senonga-Zake, music expert and professor at Kenyatta University to seek advice on how to go about. The minister also talked to Peter Kibukosya, music teacher at Eregi Teachers College and Thomas Kalume, music teacher at St Paul’s Theological College. Kalume went on to become a politician in the later years.

Making the team: What it Took

All of them agreed to be a part of the team and met at Hyslop’s office in Nairobi. The team had a deadline of seven weeks before which they had to come up with the national anthem. Washington Omondi was only 22-years old and recently graduated from Edinburgh University, Scotland. A few days later, the team found another team member in  FA Thorntorn, director at the East Africa Conservatoire of Music and a Kenyan Police bandmaster.

Hyslop and his team based the national anthem on a Pokomo lullaby. While Hyslop recorded the English version at All Saints and Alliance High School, Railway Training School recorded it in Kiswahili. Both these versions aren’t a direct translation of each other but have the same meaning and tune.

For the rest of his life, Hyslop conducted choir for whites at All Saints and also encouraged Senonga-Zake to conduct choir for blacks at St Stephen’s Church. Hyslop passed away in 1978 at the age of 68.

Did you know about him? Let us know in the comments below.