President Mwai Kibaki’s speech during 2011 Mashujaa Day Celebrations
I am pleased to join you for the second Mashujaa Day celebrations since the promulgation of our Constitution. This is a day when we reflect on our history and dedicate ourselves to deliver to future generations the aspirations of our nation’s founding fathers. It is an opportunity to take stock of where we are coming from, where we are and where we are going.
On this occasion, we recall our history that is full of our people’s collective and personal efforts and sacrifice. We remember with gratitude the heroes of our freedom struggle who made tremendous sacrifices so that we may attain independence.
We salute the gallant efforts of the first leaders of independent Kenya who laid the foundation for our socio-economic development. We hail the many heroes and heroines who over the years have continued to render exemplary service to our nation.
At this juncture, I would like to pay tribute to two outstanding Kenyans who have recently passed on. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai will be remembered by Kenyans, and indeed the rest of the world, for her immense contribution to environmental conservation and protection of human rights. Doctor Margaret Ogola was an accomplished paediatrician and award winning author. Her books were a positive influence to thousands of our high school students who studied them as set books. Moreover, her medical work with children impacted by HIV and AIDS was indeed commendable.
I urge all of us to honour the memories of these fallen Mashujaas by playing our respective roles in nation-building. It is also vital that
our children grow up understanding our history. Therefore, the history and civics of our country should be taught to all students throughout the education system.
Every generation produces its own heroes and heroines. In our time, we have many shining stars in our midst. These include our sports men and women who have continued to fly the Kenyan flag high at international competitions.
Recently, our athletes made us very proud at the World Athletics championships where Kenya came third after the USA and Russia. Our
national Anthem was played so often during the medal award ceremonies that those present and the millions who watched on television, may have started to know it by heart.
Our marathon runners have continued to dominate international races. I particularly commend Patrick Makau for recently breaking the marathon world record in Berlin. Our swimmers and volleyball players have also done us proud in recent competitions. I call upon our sports men and women to use their positions as role models to inspire and influence our young people to greatness.
Our business sector has also produced many heroes and heroines who have continued to win global and regional awards. Due to focused leadership, several of our local firms have begun operations in neighbouring countries thus creating our own indigenous multinational corporations.
I also salute our medium and small sector players who are helping in the creation of jobs necessary to engage our growing youthful population.
Other Kenyan heroes and heroines include our scientists and researchers who are doing pioneering work in various fields. In this connection, I commend our public universities for creating an enabling environment for academic excellence and research to thrive.
Most importantly, the many unsung heroes and heroines in our country are the millions of Kenyan farmers, workers and businessmen who, despite the challenges they face, get up every morning and work extremely hard to provide for their families and build our nation. I salute you all.
As we celebrate Mashujaa Day, I am aware of the challenges Kenyans are facing as a result of increased inflation and the depreciating exchange rate of the Shilling. Although some of the factors that have influenced this situation are external, we are committed to do our best to deal with the issues that are local.
The Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Kenya have now taken steps to tighten our monetary and fiscal policies. The measures taken include the lowering of the foreign exchange exposure limit of commercial banks, the raising of the Central Bank Rate and the immediate review of Government expenditure to cut back on non-priority areas. We believe that these actions are restoring confidence in the market and bringing stability to the exchange rate and will significantly reduce inflation.
I would like to state that our economic fundamentals remain sound. Indeed, our economy expanded by 4.9 per cent in the first quarter of this year, driven largely by improved productivity in the construction, financial services, transport and communication sectors. This performance was higher than the 4.3 per cent realized during a similar period last year. I call upon our business community, players in the financial markets and all Kenyans to remain calm as we seek to stabilize the current situation. In the meantime, I wish to caution speculators who seek to take advantage of the current situation, that the government will take action needed to protect our consumers.
I am also aware that rising inflation as well as increasing costs of fuel has impacted negatively on food prices and the cost of living for our
people. I wish to assure Kenyans that the Government is taking both long and short term interventions to make life affordable especially to the low income groups in our country.
These measures include the removal of duty on imported staple foods. The importation of more food into the country as we await local production will help stabilize food prices. Equally important, the Government is giving farmers in rangelands 700 million shillings to grow sorghum, millet and cassava, among other traditional crops. These are the crops that can withstand adverse weather conditions and thereby help us address the challenge of food shortage.
Subsidized fertilizer will also be supplied to farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture already has in stock enough seed and fertilizer for purchase
by farmers. The government will be investing 4.8 billion shillings to ensure availability of fertilizer. We will also be establishing a
permanent Fertiliser and Seed Fund to address concerns of farmers in the long term.
Government is also taking other concrete steps to make our domestic food production more efficient through mechanization and a deliberate shift from rain fed to irrigated agriculture.
Turning to other sectors of national endeavour, the Government has continued to place emphasis on infrastructure development. This includes ongoing efforts in road construction, air and rail transport civil works as well as investments in Information and Communication Technologies. With these efforts, it is anticipated that more Kenyans will be able to participate in economic activities at relatively lower costs and unleash the untapped great potential of our urban and rural economies.
In the roads sub-sector, we have recorded impressive progress over the last few years. More works will soon be underway, among them the Lamu Port – South Sudan – Ethiopia Transport Corridor. This Second Transport Corridor is an economic development corridor which will open the vast areas of Northern and Eastern parts of our country, as well as some parts of the Coastal region. This is in addition to providing a link to Ethiopia and South Sudan.
With regard to the development of Information Communication Technology, the Government has put in substantial investments to accelerate growth in trade and transfer of knowledge and technology. It is gratifying that many young Kenyans have embraced ICT as an avenue to earn a living and also to create employment for other Kenyans. I commend our IT entrepreneurs and companies who have won international recognition for innovative applications and systems.
The security of our country is paramount. The Government will provide adequate security in all parts of the country. We will defend our territorial integrity through all measures necessary to ensure peace and stability. Our security forces have begun operations within and outside of our borders against militants who have sought to destabilize our country. In this regard we are working closely with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, IGAD and the African Union.
I commend our men and women in uniform who are engaged in this operation. We pray for their safety and security as they embark on defending our country, as we decisively deal with this threat to our national security. These men and women are protecting our sovereignty. As a country we should support these brave modern day heroes.
Security of our country, though, will not be achieved by our security forces alone. Each one of us has a role to ensure that no one amongst us, is used to disrupt our peace and stability. We should all be vigilant and as true patriots, ensure that we identify the bad elements among us. The hospitality of the Kenyan people must never be abused by some bad elements.
In conclusion, fellow Kenyans, I would like to emphasize that our nation can only experience economic growth and development when the political environment is stable. I therefore call upon all political players to continue working together and support the institutions and processes that have been set up under our Constitution.
This will ensure the transformation we sought when we enacted the new Constitution is actualized. That transformation also means a Kenya at peace with itself. On this occasion, I therefore appeal to all Kenyans to embrace a genuine spirit of national healing and reconciliation. We are all Kenyans united in one common bond.
We shall be convening a Pre-election and national Reconciliation conference at the end of next January. This will help set the stage for a peaceful election and smooth transition.
Maintaining peace would also be the best way to honour the memories and legacies of our heroes and heroines who have gone before us and who continually dreamed of a better and more prosperous Kenya.