BY UHURU KENYATTA
Distinguished guests, fellow Kenyans,
Fifty one years ago today – within the memory of many still living – this nation, regained its self-rule, after nearly a century of painful struggle. We pay tribute to the men and women who gave all they had so that we might be free, and we will always remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. This nation is their gift to us.
On that first day of our self-government, we rallied behind leaders who demanded not just sovereignty, but also freedom from ignorance, poverty, and disease. Ours is to complete the journey they began.
The road has been long. But while we cannot claim that every Kenyan lives in dignity and freedom, there is no doubt that we have made immense progress.
At the dawn of our freedom in 1963, the average Kenyan could expect to live 35 years. Today, thanks to the investment in health undertaken by Kenyans and their government over the last 51 years, the average Kenyan can expect to live to 64 years.
We have fought ignorance valiantly. Fifty one years ago, just over eight hundred thousand of our children were in primary school. Today, ten million children have the chance of an education paid for by the state.
Fifty one years ago, there were 82 secondary schools in Kenya. Today, there are nearly ten thousand. Fifty one years ago, we had a single public university in the country. Now, we have 22 and 9 constituent colleges, while the private sector has established 19 universities and 5 constituent colleges.
We take pride in the fact that our armed services have defended our sovereignty, and contributed to peace in our region. Let me pause now to remember those who fell in recent missions.
We also take special pride in the bold reform of our most basic law in 2010, to let every Kenyan taste the fruits of our freedom.
Of course, these achievements did not come by our strength alone; the grace of God has led us through difficult times. There have been failures, setbacks and missed opportunities.
But instead of lamenting what might have been, we are grateful for the distance we have travelled, and we look forward to what is to come.