REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES DURING 2017 KENYA NATIONAL DRAMA FESTIVAL STATE CONCERT AT STATE LODGE, KISUMU ON 18TH APRIL, 2017

On June 23, 2018 In Statements and Speeches

Ladies and Gentlemen — amosi! I trust you’ve all had a wonderful Easter. For my part, I’m very pleased to be back in Kisumu, and to join you all for the latest staging of this concert. Let me start by thanking you all — and especially the people of Kisumu, and their Governor, and their County Government — for the hospitality they have shown us today. We’ve watched a sample of the Kenya National Drama Festival’s winning entries; and we’ve seen some of Kenya’s most talented young people perform. It is my pleasure to commend and congratulate all those who have played their part today, and during the festival too. I congratulate all the winners of the 58th Edition of the drama festival for their exemplary performances; and I thank all those who participated in the Festival. You have maintained the high standards we have come to expect from this festival; you have shown us what is in the hearts and minds of Kenya’s youth; and you have refreshed our faith in the future of this nation. Asanteni! Ladies and Gentlemen, Today we have seen the rich potential of our youth: young men and women drawn from every level of our schools, and from every corner of the Republic. None of us can claim to have remained unaffected by this year’s festival; today, as in years past, this Festival marks our lives. It is not just a sensitive needle, pricking the public conscience; it is also, if I may vary the metaphor, a whetstone, upon which the creative skills of our young people are honed. This year, I am glad to say, the needle was especially sharp, for the theme of the festival, “Enhancing National Values for Development” was particularly well articulated in the performances presented. I trust that the young people here have learned as much as we, their elders, have from their presentations. Ladies and Gentlemen, We have reached a stage in our development where entrepreneurship education for artists must be taught. That will enable our young people to nurture and develop their skills, so that they can excel. We wish to fully explore — we must fully explore — our rich talent for a global audience. After all, aren’t we ready, willing and able to go up against the world’s best? Of course we are. Aren’t our young people as talented as any other country’s youth? Of course they are. Still, in testing ourselves against the world’s best, we ought not to forget our priorities. The young people before us today remind us of our duty to the nation — this country that we love. We must marshal our energies, our resources and our skills — each and every talent in our possession — to make Kenya the free and prosperous nation of their dreams. We cannot say we do not know what they want; the issues they have raised here, in song and in dance and in drama, remind us of the desire we share for a unity of purpose, no matter our diversities. In truth, ladies and gentlemen, our unity determines our progress in the journey to Kenya’s greatness. Ladies and Gentlemen, That journey, as you well know, is not without its obstacles. This Festival finds us in a season of heated political activity, as we prepare for the general election in August. We can learn from our students, who epitomise our unity in diversity. They remind us that despite our differences, we are one. We are one people, with the same goal. We are one great nation. The electioneering should not divide us; rather it should teach us the importance of unity, and of singleness of purpose. Ladies and Gentlemen, I said that the journey to greatness would not be without its pains. One, which has long held us back, is the delay in reforming our curriculum. Only if we reform will we finally be able to prepare our children for the future they must face. It is my pleasure to say that my Administration is undertaking these long overdue curriculum reforms. A central part of that effort is the co-curricular programmes, which play such an important part in nurturing talent for individual and national development. My Government is committed to making the most of the promise of our children, so they will be provided with equal opportunities to fully exploit their potential as of inalienable right. We would serve them ill if we chose any other path. Mr. Chairman, let me also defend what I consider to be a very important role of co-curricular activities for our children. We have a young generation, more adept with technology than their elders will ever be. However, we need to be aware of the dangers posed by over-exposure to dangerous sites that could cause cyberbullying on social media; and which could make our youth prey for digitally delivered vices. It is as clear to me as, I hope, it is clear to you that our children must be guided away from these temptations. Rather, we need to remind them that these new media are tools, and tools to be used in a spirit of patriotism. Technology is not a trap for our children; it is a means to pass on rich, value-laden knowledge. I am confident that that vital lesson will not be forgotten. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased that the Festival organisers have taken up my request to develop a cultural bilateral relationship with our brothers in Uganda: I have learnt that since last year, over 1,000 students have benefited from participating in joint Festivals. Efforts to have our other partner states from the entire region continue, and they should soon bear fruit. My Administration continues to support forums like this Festival to prepare our children to engage in meaningful endeavour after school. I am pleased that some county governments are as committed as we are to that path, and have taken up the initiative to invest in the youth by supporting the ECD teams participating in this Festival. A few have also developed multi-purpose halls that will enable our children to make the most of their leisure, and enhance the identification, nurturing and development of arts and sports talent in our young people. Long may they continue that work. Let me record my appreciation of all those partners who came on board this year to supplement the Ministry of Education’s efforts. Your magnanimity has contributed to the success of this Festival. This year’s partners, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government through the Task Force on Community Policing, Posta Kenya and the Anti-FGM Board — I assure you all that your support is a sure investment in the prosperity of our Kenya. Let me also thank, once again, all the performers, their teachers, their parents, and all who had a hand in making this yet another successful Festival. Asanteni. Finally, fellow Kenyans, let me remind you all that the youth of our nation — the majority of our nation — have spoken. As their elders, and parents, it is only prudent to do what we can to live by the values and virtues they have praised in their performances. I close by wishing you all journey mercies and abundant blessings as you re-join your families for the remaining days of your first-term holiday. Thank you and God bless you all.

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