A fearless leader, Ali Aden Lord fought for the rights of the Somali community in Kenya. Born in 1915, he was elected the first Member of Parliament of Somali descent in Kenya. The close ally of Kenya’s founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, he was part of the fierce Mau Mau fighters and later a powerful force in the government. He is believed to have been the impetus for the degree of contemporary political participation of Somalis in Kenya. He passed away in 1961.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
The powerful MP was born and raised in Nairobi. He was from the prominent Aden Lord family from Laasqoray. As a result of his heritage, he acquired huge tracts of land in Nairobi’s Eastleigh area including the Air Force base area. In his time, he owned various real estate properties.
The founder of the North Eastern People Progressive Party (NEPPP) fought for the improvement of the lives of Somalis in the four frontier districts (Garissa, Wajir, Moyale and Mandera) which had been neglected and isolated. The letters and petitions he sent to various governors before independence made him a popular figure. He spurred economic growth and endeavored to attain an integration policy that worked for everyone. He sent several petitions to governor Sir Patrick Renison saying Somalis should be given more freedom in terms of the political, cultural and social affairs.
In 1961, he convened a meeting with the British Secretary of Colonial Affairs in Nairobi and talked about his party’s independent policy. He was invited at London’s Lancaster House to take part in a constitutional conference. During the forum, he talked about Somali’s worries and skepticisms over their political rights as a religiously different and minority group. According to him, if Britain failed to give the NFD it’s independent freedom before handing over to Kenya, the frontier would grapple with neglect, bad administration, and indifference for their rights or even utter oppression.
Despite his appeal at the Lancaster house, it was decided that Somalis who come from the non self governing NFD Somali territory shared the same political fate of Kenya. This was in spite of the fact that an independent commission by the British government discovered Somalis wanted autonomy and unity with Somali.
Lord became a member of the Legislative Council of Kenya (LegCo) in 1960. Until the late 50s, LegCo had been open only to the whites.
Lord would go on to become an Interior Minister and was included in Mzee Jomo Kenyatta the state delegation that went to Mogadishu during the reign of president Sharmaake.