Saturday, March 22, 2014

on "Oginga Odinga of Kenya", one of Malcolm X's favorite songs

I had heard that "Oginga Odinga of Kenya" was one of Malcolm X's favorite songs, so I went looking and found two versions:





Gail Falk wrote about it in Freedom Songs,
My favorite Oginga Odinga tells about the State Department’s ill fated effort to show Kenyan official Oginga Odinga in 1963 that race relations in the United States were really fine. The State Dept. included Atlanta on its tour (after all, it was supposed to be the City Too Busy to Hate) and put Odinga up at the Peachtree Manor, one of the only integrated hotels in the city.  SNCC staff heard about Odinga being in town and went to visit him with the purpose of giving him a different perspective. They invited the Kenyan to accompany them to the Toddle House restaurant, right next to the hotel, where they were refused service because of their race, and a number of people were arrested for sitting in. Odinga realized he had been given a “whitewashed” version of American race relations. He taught the SNCC workers the Swahili word for freedom, which is the chorus of the song: Uhuru, Uhuru, Freedom Now, Freedom Now.
The Freedom Singers recorded it in the '60s, so maybe I'll find a copy of that someday. But here they are doing another of their songs with the Obamas singing along:



And not related, but found in the search, another example of why I admire Malcolm X so much: