SPEECH BY H.E. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE FOURTH MASHUJAA DAY, 20TH OCTOBER, 2013, NYAYO STADIUM
It gives me pleasure to join you on this occasion of the Fourth Mashujaa Day celebrations. Before I proceed, I request that we all stand up and observe a minute of silence in honor of all those who lost their lives in the Westgate terror attack.
Let us always cherish their memory.
This year, we mark the Golden Jubilee of our Republic. We intend to commemorate 50 years of independence, by celebrating our triumphs and reflecting upon our future progress. We want to remember where we have come from, and envision our journey forward. Starting today, we will have diverse activities by people in all sectors of our public life and all parts of the country to mark “Kenya at 50″. I encourage all Kenyans to join in this festival and celebrate our country.
We are here to commemorate the sacrifice and heroism of many Kenyans whose vision and conviction won us freedom and sovereignty. Colonialism had stripped all Kenyans of their fundamental rights. They had no land, and were considered inferior in their own home. There was neither dignity nor freedom for Kenyans then. Our forefathers waged a struggle of conviction and principle, supported with no resources except the burning fire of humiliation and the indefeasible yearning for independence and respect.
They were brave and noble.
Many took up armed struggle in the forests, as others formed and led movements for the civil agitation for independence. The colonial reaction was repressive and brutal. Heroes were killed and imprisoned, while the rest were stigmatised and hunted down like animals. The cost of the struggle was painful, because the settlers did not consider Africans equal human beings worthy of rights.
This day marks the official beginning of the worst phase of colonialism, and the most harrowing period of our struggle for independence. The brutality our independence heroes underwent from 20th October, 1952 until the attainment of self-government ten years later defies imagination. It is the reason that we have reverently emblazoned our national flag with the red of their sacred blood. That is why our constitution states that We the People honour those who heroically struggled to bring freedom and justice to our land. In history, Mashujaa Day is a day written in blood by the hand of our heroes.
From an era of racial discrimination and violent abuse, our heroes gallantly ushered us into a new dawn of equality, dignity and sovereignty.
It is important to recognize that the struggle for freedom and justice continued after independence to this day. We are here to salute the unshakable courage, conviction and sacrifice of all those who have served the cause of freedom in Kenya, and in Africa.
Our forefathers rejected colonialism and imperial domination in their time. We must honour their legacy, and stay true to our heritage, by rejecting all forms of domination and manipulation in our time. Let us confront without flinching those external forces seeking to thwart our collective aspirations. They may be powerful and rich, but so were the colonists. They may disrespect and even hate us; we have defeated their ilk before. The struggle to defend our independence is a daily calling for all Kenyans, and all the people of Africa.
Besides freedom fighters and political leaders, there are other Kenyans who have made significant contribution in business, research, scholarship, and public service. We commend them for their distinguished service. Most importantly, I would like to commend the millions of Kenyan workers, entrepreneurs, and farmers for their steady nation building efforts. Our country grows and thrives because of your consistency and hard work. You are the practitioners of a unique form of patriotism.
Let us also honour those Kenyans who, every day, perform acts of selflessness and bravery. They include the volunteers who respond in disasters and emergencies, the philanthropists who donate to the needy and members of our security services who protect us at great risk to their own lives. On my own behalf, and on behalf of the people of Kenya, I say a big “Thank You” to all of you.
I also honour our gallant sons and daughters who continue to put Kenya on the world map. Our sports men and women continue to put Kenya ahead of many nations. Our team to the recent World Athletics Championships in Moscow won a total of 12 medals. Through the team’s effort, Kenya was ranked 4th overall and emerged first in Africa. We congratulate the entire team and management for this commendable feat. Moreover, in the past few weeks, Kenyans have secured memorable wins in marathon races across the world. I also wish to appreciate our national Rugby and women’s volleyball teams, and other sports teams who have brought glory to Kenya in various events. The dedication and resilience of our sportsmen and women are a source of pride to all Kenyans. Hongera!
Our heroes remind us everyday that we are a nation of winners.
Because our gallant freedom fighters won, we celebrate the freedom, dignity and progress that we have won because of them. They bestowed us with a legacy that we must honour with all our lives. We cherish our nationhood, heritage and the splendor of Kenya in commemoration of the struggles and sacrifices made by our freedom fighters. We must always do them proud.
First of all, we must protect our country from all threats to the national fabric. We have withstood terrible violations by terrorists who have attacked our people and caused much grief and suffering. There have been numerous domestic acts of criminality on worrying scales. My Government is vigilant, and is investing in equipping the security forces to have sufficient capacity to deter and contain all forms of violence and criminality. We want to be a country at peace with itself, and with its neighbours. From time to time, therefore, we may be required to intervene externally to keep our country, and our neighbours safe. We have not been found wanting in that regard, and we stand ready to act whenever required.
I am happy to report that peace and security initiatives in Somalia and South Sudan are bearing fruit.
But security is the shared mandate of all people living in Kenya. The first rule of security is vigilance: we must know everything and everyone around us. It will be a great betrayal for anyone of us to pretend oblivion while next door, someone is assembling bombs, hoarding illegal weapons, or detaining a kidnapped child. That is why we must all embrace the ‘Nyumba Kumi’ plan: ensure that you know at least 10 households around your residence well.
Let us do all we can to protect our country, our people and our prosperity. In doing so, let us realize the holistic scope of our security threats and work on each accordingly. Similarly, I urge Kenyans to be vigilant against vandals and poachers, who selfishly destroy taxpayers’
investment in national infrastructure and our natural heritage. I direct the police to ensure that such people are arrested and prosecuted at once.
We must also grow our economy and develop all parts of the country with the objective of securing a better life and more happiness for all our people. As my Government executes the Second Medium Term Plan of Vision 2030, we are also doing everything we can in the short term that the cost of living is bearable to all Kenyans. We will ensure that undue barriers to affordability of basic commodities are eliminated. Moreover, my Government has put in place incentives to ensure that producers make Kenya food-secure in the shortest time. Those unscrupulous traders who hike prices, especially of farm inputs as well as produce, under the pretext of VAT are criminals and will be dealt with as such. I direct the relevant Government agencies to remain vigilant against such mischief at all times.
As I have pledged before, my Government is fully committed to the implementation of the Constitution. I want every Kenyan to travel with us on this journey to entrench constitutional freedoms, full implementation of Devolution and the observance of integrity in public institutions. Even as we do so, I urge those responsible to ensure that the observance of maximum constitutional freedoms does not undermine the public interest in national security and proper management of public property. It is a question of considering all legitimate interests in interpreting and applying the Constitution.
On this day, therefore, I beseech the people of Kenya to be more united than ever before, and to recognise shared opportunities as well as common threats.
Our past has many instances where Kenyans, who are brothers and sisters, have been incited and manipulated to turn against each other on irrational ethnic and religious grounds. As a result, lives have been lost, property destroyed and people displaced from their homes. These incidents shame all of us as a nation, and defile the memory of our heroes. We must never allow anyone, or anything to divide us. Just as we reject domination, we must also reject division and discord.
The Jubilee Government is committed to break from this dark, backward, and dangerous past. As we clearly stated in our manifesto, “we believe in one Kenya; a Kenya where every citizen, whoever they are, wherever they live, will have the same opportunity to succeed and prosper free of discrimination-open or hidden. Our shared aim is to end ethnic tensions and rivalry and to unite all our citizens. We stand for an inclusive Government committed in word and deed to the people it serves. We will actively seek to promote policies that make our people more cohesive and create opportunities for all.” This remains our firm commitment. One Kenya. One People. One Nation.
My Government is doing everything in its power to transform our society to enable every individual actualize their full potential. We will wholeheartedly observe our constitutional responsibility to promote national unity, eliminate all forms of discrimination and marginalization.
Already, we have made important strides in this regard through equitable appointments in the Cabinet and Public service. We have also resettled all internally displaced persons and are doing all we can to enable them integrate back into society. Most importantly, we have provided the opportunity for youth, women, and persons living with disability to thrive as entrepreneurs. I call upon all leaders and wananchi across the country to promote national cohesion, both in word and in deed.
In conclusion, I ask that when history looks at us in future, we shall not be found wanting. As I said earlier, we have come a long way, and we are going places. Pamoja twasonga mbele. Therefore, I implore you in the name of our heroes: Let all and one arise and, with hearts both strong and true, endeavour to honestly serve our Homeland. Let us stand firm to defend our heritage and splendor.
With one accord, and united in a common bond, let us build this nation.
Let a glorious Kenya be the fruit of our collective labour, which will fill all Kenyan hearts with thanksgiving.
Finally, let me take this opportunity to wish all candidates success in their national examinations which start this month with Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education.
God bless you, and God bless Kenya.