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Back to listApr 1, 2007

University of Nairobi Professor Speaks at SGI-Kenya General Meeting

On April 1, 2007, SGI-Kenya held a general meeting in Nairobi commemorating its 15th anniversary, attended by 52 members and seven guests. Included in the program were an introduction of SGI-Kenya's history by Headquarters Chief P. Banja, a personal experience of practicing Nichiren Buddhism and an African drum performance. The highlight of the meeting was a talk by the guest of honor, Writers Association of Kenya President and University of Nairobi Professor Henry Indangasi, who spontaneously broke out singing two traditional songs during his speech, to the delight of the audience.

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An SGI-Kenya representative welcomes Dr. Indangasi (right) and his wife (left)

Professor Henry Indangasi began by congratulating the participants on SGI-Kenya's anniversary. He recalled his first encounter with the SGI in 1986 when SGI President Daisaku Ikeda received the Kenya Oral Literature Association Award in proxy at the University of Nairobi. Thereafter, when the University of Nairobi undertook the Swahili translation of Mr. Ikeda's book, Life: An Enigma, a Precious Jewel, Professor Indangasi participated on the editorial team.

In 1991, moved by a lengthy poem Mr. Ikeda penned in tribute to Nelson Mandela just prior to his election as South Africa's president later that year, the University of Nairobi Honorary Degree Selection Committee unanimously agreed to present Mr. Ikeda with an honorary doctorate in literature (December 1992). In 1999, the Kenya Writers' Association launched a scholarly study of Mr. Ikeda's writings on themes of literature, culture and peace, published in 2001 by University of Nairobi Press as Daisaku Ikeda and Africa: Reflections by Kenyan Writers.

Professor Indangasi recounted his meeting with Mr. Ikeda, with whom he engaged in a dialogue on world literature, published in Japanese by Ushio Publishers as Sekai no bungaku wo kataru. He said he is sometimes asked by Kenyans and Japanese why he has such a connection with Daisaku Ikeda when he himself is not a Buddhist. He recalled growing up in poverty under British colonialism and his high school education at Friends School, Kamusinga, which was run by pacifist Quakers. In his home town in western Kenya, people greet one another by calling out "Mirembe," meaning "peace," or "Are you at peace?" from a desire to live in peace. Professor Indangasi says he has had many years to deliberate on the human condition, and that he concurs with Mr. Ikeda's philosophy of humanism which transcends differences of race and national boundaries and unites rather than divides people. Thus, although he is not a Buddhist, he fully supports and applauds Mr. Ikeda's pacifistic and humanistic ideals.

The day ended with a commemorative photo-taking to mark the event.

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[Adapted from a report from SGI-Kenya and articles in the April 14 and 24, 2007 issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan. Photos courtesy of SGI-Kenya]