Kenyan author Henry Ole Kulet was awarded the Elder of the Burning Spear: Second Class at this year’s Independence Day celebrations on December 12, 2019.
Since December 12, 1963, the Republic of Kenya annually celebrates its Independence Day from its colonial rulers the British. As anyone who knows any Kiswahili will know, the word for freedom is Uhuru but the day is designated as Jamhuri Day. The reason for this is that on the day of Independence in 1964, then-President Jomo Kenyatta declared that the country was now an independent republic with no allegiance to the crown. Thus on December 12, Kenyans celebrate both independence and the declaration as a republic.
As part of the celebrations, the president confers awards to those who have achieved much for the country in the past year. These orders have names like Order of the Golden Heart, Order of the Burning Spear, Order of the Grand Warrior, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star of Kenya, and Head of State’s Commendation. These awards are given to people like academicians, technocrats, politicians, journalists, athletes, clergymen among others.
In this year’s awards, the president of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta conferred to beloved author Henry Ole Kulet with the Elder of the Burning Spear: Second Class. With no citation available, we will assume this award was given to him for his services to writing and literature.
Henry Ole Kulet is known for his novels which capture various aspects of the environment, and of the culture and experience of the Maa or Maasai people. Some of his books include To Become a Man (1972), It is Possible (1975), Daughter of Maa (1987), The Hunter (1985), Moran on More (1990), Bandits of Kibi (1999), Blossoms of the Savannah (2008), Vanishing Herds (2011) (our review), and The Elephant Dance (2016).