SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES DURING THE 2017 MASHUJAA DAY CELEBRATIONS AT UHURU PARK GROUNDS, NAIROBI ON 20TH OCTOBER, 2017
I am very pleased to lead the celebration of the 8th Mashujaa Day; a day we have set aside to remember our heroes of the past.
These are men and women of courage and patriotism, who chose service over self; men and women who have sacrificed themselves in one way or the other for the sake of peace and stability of this great nation.
As their sons and daughters, we have a duty to remember them honourably. That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what we gather to do today; this day is theirs.
We also gather to give thanks for the progress we have made, on the political and economic front. We are free to express our opinions without fear of retribution; we can move freely, live and work anywhere in the country without requiring a pass; and we can vote to elect leaders of our choice.
I wish to remind you, Kenyans of African Origin could not vote until 1957. And even then it was for only eight seats in the legislature.
Ndugu Zanguni, these rights are precious: We enjoy them today because those who came before us, chose to sacrifice even their own lives so that we can be a free people.
Mashujaa Day is also an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of true heroism; and how each one of us can contribute to the prosperity of this country of ours. We can draw lessons from the men and women who won our freedom, not because they had superior weapons, but because they seized their common destiny. They understood their common enemy; they believed in one another; they shunned differences of tribe and tongue; and they won.
These men and women endured great pain and suffering; many paid the ultimate price. No words can express our gratitude to this generation. We can only honour them by defending the values and the cause for which they stood.
We remember and celebrate our freedom fighters and all those who supported the freedom struggle. Their bold resistance, rallying Kenyans against the colonialists, is a permanent reminder that injustice, however powerful it seems, will fall.
We remember today’s heroes who have made enormous contributions to enlarge the democratic space in Kenya. Their sacrifices for multi-party politics laid the foundation upon which we have developed our democracy. It now behooves us to zealously guard the democracy we have inherited from these heroes.
The late Prof. Wangari Maathai, the late Prof. Ali Mazrui and other notable scholars and researchers, brought honour to our motherland.
We celebrate our sportsmen and women who continue to bring glory to our motherland in different championships in the world.
Daily, we see acts of heroism; let us celebrate them today. We remember Mary Mokaya, who saved fellow students from the Moi Girls’ fire, at the cost of her own life. May God rest her soul and that of her colleagues, in eternal peace. And may her name and her example of selflessness, be a shining example to us all.
Mary’s actions during that tragedy provide poignant lessons for us to reflect upon at this moment in our nation’s history. At the tender age of 14, she sacrificed for the sake of others. Mary’s great act and courage will forever be engraved in our hearts.
All of us should emulate her good example of thinking of others first before self.
Let me also recognize Mr. Joseph Charo Karisa, of Rabai sub-county, who is another great Kenyan. He donated two acres of family land for construction of Jimba Water Pan.
For his good gesture, 5,000 people and 40,000 livestock will now realize a long held dream of receiving a reliable water supply. Mr. Charo is a hero and a role model in his community and, indeed, the entire country.
He offered what he could afford to end perennial water and food problems in his community. His deed was not driven by a need for fame, recognition, or gain, but rather the desire to serve his community by providing land for a water pan to solve their daily problems.
There are numerous cases of Kenyans who have gone out of their way to create impact in the lives of their fellow Kenyans. Their acts have touched the hearts of other Kenyans.
My challenge to the rest of us is to endeavor to touch at least the heart of another Kenyan before 2017 ends. This is what true brotherhood means, as the Swahili adage reminds us: “Undugu nikufaana siokufanana”.
Today, reach out and touch another Kenyan’s life. It will be the best way to celebrate Mashujaa Day.
Today, Kenya requires more people like Mary Mokaya and Joseph Charo. You can be one of them. If we act for the common good of our fellow Kenyans, this country would be a better place for us all.
I look forward to that time when Kenyans shall extend a hand of help to fellow brothers and sisters without regard to ethnicity, race, religion, age or creed. Then,and only then, will we realize the national unity our departed forefathers envisioned.
It is sad that we have not always lived to the ideals our forefathers worked for. Starting this moment, let each one of us work towards this desired goal. It is to this ideal that I wish to dedicate my Second Term. I urge every Kenyan of good will, to join me in this noble undertaking of building a united nation, where every Kenyan finds space to prosper and flourish.
As we reflect on our Mashujaa Day, my Administration acknowledges that we must correctly identify and recognize our heroes and heroines. So far, using the criteria prescribed in the Heroes Act 2014, we have honoured over 600 heroes. We plan honouring more heroes this coming December from all parts of the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to announce that we plan to shortly establish a Heroes’ Council. This Council will be responsible for identifying and coming up with solutions to issues of welfare and support to our heroes and heroines.
We recently emerged from a hard-fought election where we conducted ourselves most maturely and elected leaders of our choice. We chose to remain peaceful and allowed our democracy to prevail.
We resisted all forms of incitement. Our conduct showed that we are, indeed, a mature democracy. We proved to the entire world our ability to manage our affairs. This is one occasion where we showed we are all heroes. Thank you Kenyans for this show of maturity.
As we prepare for the Presidential Election on 26th October 2017, it is important that we maintain peace, just as we did and have done before. Voting to elect leaders of our choice is a right that was hard won by our forefathers, which we should guard it jealously.
To those threatening and intimidating the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), its staff and other entities, this must cease forthwith. We must trust, nurture and safeguard our institutions to enable them to grow and perform their functions.
As we have journeyed to our shared destiny, we have many challenges. We have, by the grace of God, overcome some, while others continue to engage us. Weaknesses emerged in our post-independence Constitution.
But as a nation determined to reach its destiny, we elected and conferred upon ourselves a new Constitution, after more than twenty years of engagement. This Constitution is hailed as one of the most progressive globally. It provides for freedom of assembly, peaceful demonstrations and free expression of opinion.
But I am saddened that these new freedoms are being abused to perpetuate impunity and create anarchy. I urge all Kenyans to be guided by the Constitution and to abide by the rule of law.
Our Constitution guarantees all Kenyans the right to demonstrate peacefully. My Government will uphold this right. Let me, however, hasten to add that this right will be guaranteed to for those operating within the confines of the law. As a modern State, Kenya must be guided by the rule of law.
Following the annulment of the Presidential elections and the subsequent ordering of fresh elections within 60 days, I offered myself for re-election. As a candidate, I humbly appeal to all Kenyans to vote me back to office for another term of five years. My Administration’s track record during its first term is visible to all. With your continued support, we can collectively achieve more and better results in the second term.
Our manifesto has outlined what we promise to deliver during this term and some of the plans have been concluded. A case in point is the provision of Free Day Secondary Education for All. Already, my Administration has set aside Ksh. 25 billion for the programme, which will commence in January 2018. It is for this,and other programmes my administration has planned, that I seek your vote during the coming election next week.
The coming elections demand that we remain calm and peaceful. We must desist from divisive acts, which our enemies can use to harm us.
We are at a historic crossroads: true heroes are made in a time and place such as this. Heroes who preach and safeguard peace, men and women who put the interests of this nation ahead of their personal ambitions. For those who thrive in chaos and relish anarchy, your days are numbered; the law will take its course and sanction you accordingly.
We must remember that an election is a onetime event in our political cycle and must never be allowed to divide Kenyans. It will come and go but Kenya remains. It is my sincere prayer that it should not divide us. For those planning to vote and those staying away, I urge you to extend a hand of friendship to your brothers,sisters and neighbours and respect each other’s choice.
My Administration is ready to counter any threats to our national security during and after the elections. Towards this end, the security apparatus has been enhanced and appropriately deployed to maintain law and order. The law will apply equally to all regardless of social class, and no one will be spared.
Having had uninterrupted electoral cycle for the second time, my Administration will not allow a repeat of the painful past where lives and properties were lost. We vowed never to repeat the regrettable events that almost sunk us.
We must, therefore, wake up and say “NO” to any misleading leader out to plunge Kenya into chaos. Kenyans have the choice and means of resisting such leaders and their evil schemes, and should do it now.
Our neighbour Somalia recently suffered a terrorist attack where many innocent lives were lost. On behalf of all Kenyans, I send my heartfelt condolences to the people of Somalia.
The attack is a sobering reminder of the dangerous times we live in. I urge all Kenyans to remain vigilant and report any suspicious persons bent on undermining our security from within and without our borders.
At this juncture I wish to salute and celebrate our disciplined forces for braving all risks to keep all of us secure. Unfortunately, some of them have lost their lives in the line of duty. They have dedicated their lives to securing and keeping Kenya peaceful.
Their sacrifices can never be compensated by monetary or any other terms. Once again, I salute them.
Recognizing that Kenya is a God fearing nation, I have called for national prayers. It is imperative that we collectively pray for our beloved Nation. Consequently, I have declared Sunday 22nd October 2017 a National Prayer Day. I call on all Kenyans to converge in their Mosques, Churches, Temples and other places of worship and pray for our Nation.
I wish to conclude by requesting you to turn out in large numbers to exercise your constitutional and democratic right on Thursday, 26th of this month. Your vote will be your contribution to the dream of our forefathers for a peaceful and prosperous Kenya. True Kenyan heroes will cast their votes on 26th this month. This is the only way we can make Kenya great and guarantee a great future for our children.
I also wish to take this opportunity to join the Hindu Community in celebrating Diwali and wish them a Happy New Year.
Finally, let me wish you all a happy Mashujaa Day.
God Bless You,
God Bless Kenya,