The threat of terrorists to our democracy is profound

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My Fellow Kenyans,

We gather today at this Mashujaa Day, to celebrate our heroes and heroines. The men and women who through their acts of courage and compassion define the essence of Kenya and its people.

Kenyans who stood up to denounce, organise against and fight colonial rule. Kenyans in our security forces, currently on the battlefield combating terrorists at home and abroad.

The brave police officers, soldiers, and civilians, like Chief Inspector Stephen Lelei, Sergeant Moses Emojong and the late Lieutenant Joseph Mukoto Masulia, who risked their lives to save innocents attacked at the Westgate Mall last September.

We lionise our winning sportsmen and women. Their winning exploits repeatedly reaffirm that our innate talent once combined with hard work can raise us from the smallest village to be the best in the world.

To see the determination, teamwork and dignity of men and women like, as they battle for victory, is to be reminded anew of the limitless possibilities that are ours to grasp.

Just as importantly, we also celebrate the multitude of unsung heroes whose everyday efforts bring progress and unity to families, communities and our nation.

All of us have Mashujaa in our lives. We give thanks to the aunt who sacrifices her own comforts to pay for school or hospital fees.

The local policeman, who turns up for work every day ready to apprehend dangerous criminals. The nurses and doctors who go beyond the call of duty to soothe our pain and give us hope. We are grateful for those who mentor the young, and the philanthropists whose charities save lives and bring relief to the orphaned, the poor, the sick, the hungry and the destitute.

They are just as great Mashujaa as our most heroic freedom fighters, Koitalel arap Samoei, Mekatilili, Dedan Kimathi, the Kapenguria Six, Oginga Odinga.

And those men and women … Wangari Maathai, Ali Mazrui, and others … who have used their education to open our eyes to the most pressing challenges of the day.

Our gratitude is deeply felt for their sacrifices confirm that we are one, and that this unity in caring for one another will make us greater than the sum of our parts.

Fellow Kenyans,

It is my fundamental conviction that together we can do and achieve more.

That is the essence of our new constitution which has devolved power so that we can deliberate together at the grassroots on the best solutions to our problems.

Even as devolution is pursued, my Government is accelerating the pace of East African integration. It will offer our businesspeople and their foreign counterparts to seize the opportunities in a large and inviting regional economy and thus create millions of jobs for young Kenyans.

To reap lasting benefit from the simultaneous implementation of devolution and regional integration requires a united people.

Unfortunately, too many of our leaders are masters at shouting at one another, seeking headlines more than real development, and using every ethnic and religious difference to try and split us apart.

The immense promise of Kenya will only be truly realised if we all insist that they change their ways and become masters of listening to one another. That they compete to create headlines announcing concrete development achievements; and that their words and actions reflect a desire to serve Kenyans.

Fellow Citizens,

This present era of our republic was inaugurated four years ago when we adopted a people-centred constitutional order. We came to that celebrated pass through a united, century-old effort to overthrow colonial oppression and build an independent, democratic Kenya.

In celebrating our renewed republic, we should strive to remember that colonialism was ultimately a brutal undermining of the rule of law that our forefathers had lived by.

It therefore follows that upholding our constitution is a daily reclamation of what was initially lost to colonial rule.

It is by living under laws and rules of our own making that we are a sovereign people whose collective will must never be subordinate to any. Yet there are forces that seek to reverse our progress, to interfere in the affairs of our nation, and to rupture our unity. We must therefore remain ever vigilant if we are to retain the right to build a prosperous, independent and strong nation.

To this day, there are those abroad that seek to advance their economic and geopolitical goals to our disadvantage. They fund and nurture various outfits whose actions and visions seem set to create cleavages between Kenyans, and leave us despondent with their messages of pervasive failure. These actors have positioned themselves as the gatekeepers and interpreters of Kenya in various capitals. If they were to succeed, they would so completely rob us of faith in each other that we would put our destiny in the hands of unelected, unaccountable institutions that answer to elsewhere.

This however will not happen as long as my government is in place. I pledged to protect our sovereignty and advance our constitutional democracy. I will do so without hesitation and with no favour or letup. As a start, my Government will insist on transparency of resource mobilisation and utilisation in and outside the public sector.

This is especially important in enabling us to successfully combat the Al-Shabaab terrorists and their local sympathisers.

Our democratic space with its right to free speech and association gives them the opportunity to use exaggerated, dishonest claims of victimhood to radicalise and recruit Kenyan youth.

Their funding and activities must be uncovered at all times to put a stop to their campaign to kill innocent Kenyan civilians and the brave members of our security forces.

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