, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 9 – President Mwai Kibaki has called on Kenyans to remain united as the country enters the last stages of the Constitution review process.
Speaking on Friday during the National Drama Festival State Concert at State House Gardens in Nairobi, President Kibaki urged Kenyans to guard against negative forces that seek to divide the nation over narrow, selfish interests.
Advising Kenyans to support the remaining phases of the Constitution making process, the President asked the public to live harmoniously and always be tolerant to one another’s opinion.
In this regard, President Kibaki called upon Kenyans to register in large numbers in order to participate and exercise their sovereign will during the forthcoming referendum later this year.
He said: “I urge all Kenyans to unite as we enter the final stages in our pursuit of a new Constitution. Let us support this process and ensure that Kenyans get a new Constitution. The final stage of the Constitution review process is the referendum, where the sovereign will of the people shall be exercised.”
The President remarked: “As we conclude this year’s Kenya National Drama Festival, let us all remember that we are at a significant point in our national history. We are steadily moving towards a new constitutional dispensation.”
Commending the high standards of talent, presentations and creativity exhibited during the State Concert, President Kibaki declared that the Government would continue to support local artistes to thrive and fully exploit their talents.
The Head of State noted that the Government had established a pioneer Youth Academy in collaboration with UNICEF to polish skills of gifted Kenyan youths and assured the participants that most of them will be given an opportunity to enroll and polish their skills at the academy.
The Head of State said: “The Academy which opened its doors last month at Kasarani will draw most of its students from the drama and music festivals. It is my hope that talented students specialising in music, dance, film and theatre will be well prepared to take up professional pursuits enabling them to boost their skills and self confidence for enhanced competitiveness in the market place.”
He affirmed that this was in line with the Government’s commitment to develop a distinct youth agenda to address critical issues affecting them which will also equip them with vital skills to guarantee them decent livelihoods.
As a majority segment of the country’s population, the President said that the Government was determined to urgently tackle socio-economic issues affecting the youth.
“The fact that over three quarters of our people are below 35 years of age means we have a responsibility to urgently address socio-economic issues that affect them,” said the Head of State.
During the occasion, President Kibaki commended organisers and participants in the Kenya National Drama Festival for not only upholding high quality artistic presentations but also for ensuring that the rich cultural heritage of the nation is preserved for posterity.
In this regard, the President noted that performing and creative arts are an important tool in the advancement of national socio-political and economic development.
The Head of State affirmed: “In particular, drama has been used effectively to inspire and enrich the human experience. It also provides meaningful entertainment and constructive use of leisure time. Moreover, through drama, our youth and Kenyans in general are educated on topical issues that influence our society.”
Noting that the theme of the festivals, “Developing Leadership Skills through Drama,” was appropriate, President Kibaki urged the participants to dedicate comparable effort to their academic pursuits also.
“The festival has provided an opportunity for leaders in various sectors to reflect on their skills for purposes of serving our people even better. Moreover, I believe the theme has inspired participants to take up leadership positions and positively influence those around them,” said the President.
He disclosed that the government has on average been spending Sh380 million annually on the management of co-curricular activities from the zonal to national level.
Over 7,200 participants were involved in the festival at the national level while over 100,000 participants started at the lower levels.
Education Minister Prof Sam Ongeri said drama festivals which involved pupils from the early childhood education to the colleges created harmony in schools.
The Minister noted that the festivals were also a useful medium of interaction to propagate national vales and goals.