The article compares and contrasts the political significance of myth in two unique societies that have been subject to rapid and profound changes in the last decades: Iran and Kenya. It focuses on the articulation and diffusion of these societies' most dominant politico-cultural myths - the Mau Mau struggle (1952-60) and the Karbala paradigm, i.e. the martyrdom suffered by the Third Shi'i Imam Husayn ibn 'Ali at Karbala in AD 680. The discussion shows how these myths have been indispensable in the process of forging the 'spirit', the ethos and political culture of contemporary society in Iran and Kenya. Both myths provided interpretative and exemplary notions that correspond to changing circumstances in Iran and Kenya, enabling political elites and the ordinary citizens to (re)define their reality and to direct their actions towards a visionary goal.