Pinto Exhibition Opens to Critical Acclaim in Kenya

Background to the Exhibition:

We really never got to say a proper goodbye to our late fallen comrade Pio Gama-Pinto who was assassinated on 25 February 1965. This is the first time after 58 years that we are able to publicly commemorate the death of Kenya’s first Martyr after independence and others who died with their boots on, never betraying the trust accorded to them by the people of Kenya.

So, in that memory remember all our fallen heroes like Pio Gama Pinto, J M Kariuki, Makhan Singh, Shujaa Dedan Kimaathi and the Mau Mau liberation heroes and to the memories of our Independence heroes who fought the good fight.

Today we stand in solidarity with the late Emma Gama Pinto, with Linda, Tereshka, and the late Malusha, and Rosario, and his daughter Audrey Pinto. The shocking assassination sent out a message loud and clear to the people of Kenya that no opposition to the neo-colonial rule of the Jomo Kenyatta-led government would be tolerated. But the spirit of Pinto never died.

Gitu Wa Kahengeri poses with statue of Pio Gama Pinto

His memory in the later years had been kept alive by books and audio and video material and the annual commemoration at this grave side at City Park and so Pinto speaks from his grave every day, every month, every year. We shall not forget.

There is a myth still prevalent in Kenya that the South Asian community did not support or participate in the struggle for justice and equality. The colonialists and their missionary allies drove a wedge between Africans and Asians which is yet to heal. But make no mistake, Pinto could not have achieved what he did without the support of his South Asian compatriots whether it was as family or political friends. As lawyers, doctors or fund-raisers, they supplied weapons, food, medicines and uniforms to the Mau Mau and published their reports. And they were there at Pinto’s funeral. Photographs don’t lie.

L to R: Zahid Rajan, Zarina Patel, Davinder Lamba and Gitu wa Kahengeri

The Pio Gama Pinto exhibition was launched in March 2023 at  National Museums of Kenya (NMK)’s prestigious ‘Nairobi Gallery’. Nairobi Gallery is the old colonial PCs office, next to Nyayo House, and where Joseph Murumbi’s Africana collection is housed. The Exhibition perfectly complemented the close life-long friendship between Murumbi and Pinto who also lie buried next to each other within less than a 100 metres distance at the Parklands City Park. The Pinto was visited by 1200 people and ran till the end of June 2023. It then ran for another 45 days at the Nairobi National Museum till 6 September to critical acclaim.

Most of Pinto’s personal writings and documents were set ablaze soon after he was assassinated on 24 February 1965, and ever since then there have been several attempts to write his biography. In 1984, Shiraz Durrani, had written two brief articles on Pio’s life and these were published in the East African Standard; resulting in the writer and his family having to flee into exile.  In early 2000, AwaaZ did some further research which led to a substantive publication: AwaaZ Issue 1, 2005. Subsequently Pheroze Nowrojee, Shiraz Durrani, and Nicholas Mwangi and Lewis Maghanga have written/edited books on Pinto’s life and expanded his biographical portrait. ‘Until We Are All Free’ is a group based in Nairobi which has created seven (7) audios in ‘Sheng’ targeting the youth specifically to raise awareness about this Kenyan hero. Our website on Pinto’s life is now live for viewing by the public.

The objective of the Pio Gama Pinto Exhibition is two-fold. One is to celebrate Pinto and his ideals and to share them with the youth to whom Pinto’s vision is now ‘ancient’ history. And the second is to offer a platform for interested organisations/persons to participate and contribute to the further growth of this history; and emphasizing its relevance to the Kenya of today.

Kingwa Kamencu speaks to Pheroze Nowrojee . Zahid has his back to the picture

The Exhibition opened at the Kisumu Museum on 13 October 2023 and was graced by dignitaries from the County Government  members of civil society and residents of Kisumu. The exhibition has had an extended run till the end of December 2023.

Over 5000 people have visited the Exhibition to date as it continues its journey throughout Kenya.

Calendar of Events: 2024

Western and Nyanza:
The Oginga Odinga Mausoleum: 16 January – 29 February 2024

Fort Jesus, Mombasa: 1 April – 15 May 2024
The Agakhan Academy – May / June 2024 (to be confirmed)
Lamu and Manda: – July – August 2024 (to be confirmed)

Subhash Modi, Zarina Patel and Gitu wa Kahengeri
Gitu in the Gallery (during a blackout!)
Zahid and Zarina speak during the opening
Happy Olal and Davis Malombe
Unknown and Davinder Lamba during the two anthems

National Museum of Kenya

Kenneth Ombongi: Chair – Dept of History, UON
Pheroze Nowrojee: Chair – Asian African Heritage Trust
Dr. Manthi: Director for Antiquities and Monument, National Museums of Kenya
L to R: Zahid Rajan, Chandu Sheth, Pheroze Nowrojee, Dr. Manthi and Mr Hasu Devani, Chairman of the Asian African Heritage Gallery
Dr. Mshai Mwongola: MC for the evening who is a well know performing artist and intellectual and academician
Mwanaima Salim – Senior Curator NMK, Juliana PRO at the NMK, Dr. Manthi and Chandu Sheth


At the opening of the Exhibition

Speech and comment sheet