At the inauguration of Zambia’s second president in November 1991, Frederick Chiluba remarked:
“The Zambia we inherit is destitute – ravaged by the excesses, ineptitude and straight corruption of a party and a people who have been in power for too long. When our first president stood up to address you twenty-seven years ago, he was addressing a country full of hope and glory. A country fresh with the power of the youth and a full and rich dowry. Now the coffers are empty. The people are poor, the misery endless.”
Kenya marked the 53rd Madaraka day with pomp and color at Afraha stadium in Nakuru County. Kenyans from all walks of life gathered together to celebrate the major strides we have made as a toddler nation to a fully grown country able to stand on its feet.
From 1958 when Ghana got its independence as the first African nation to gain self-rule, the potential of the continent was undoubtedly great. Other African nations followed suit with a new wave of African pride that had never been seen before. From Cairo to Lusaka, Blantyre to Gold Coast, the potential of Africa was unmatched.
A youthful productive population, mineral resources, fertile lands, patriotism, agriculture among other critical advantages. Kenyans could finally decide their own destinies. After all, they had been turned into slaves in their own country. Their lands had been taken away from them, they were jailed, exiled and their culture was completely taken away from them.
Yes we have faced several challenges as a nation, we have gone through tumultuous times but the resolve of our people, like the lions on our court of arms is forever strengthened in the face of adversity. In many ways than one, in 1963, Kenya resembled the 1991 Zambia. We inherited a nation that was unequally developed and tribalism had been used as a dividing tool rather than a tool for inclusion. After all, we are different yet the same in many ways.
But yesterday when the president stood to address the nation, it was evident that we had actually overcome some of the challenges that threatened nationhood when his father was at the helm of the presidency. The republic of Kenya is teeming with unmatched potential. As a nation, we are like a rocket that is just about to be launched.
We are dominating the international sporting stage. Our athletes keep on winning. Our rugby boys are making Kenya proud in the 7’s category. Our economy was recently rebased and was found to be of middle-income status. We passed a constitution which has been hailed as progressive across the world, the makers of the same constitution like Dr. Ekuru Aukot are now consulted widely across Africa. We lead others to follow.
Our economy is the 8th biggest in Africa yet we don’t possess any minerals. It is the sheer entrepreneurial power of our people that has made Kenya a leading service is driven economy in Africa. We are light years ahead of our neighbors and we still continue to scale the heights of success. The standard Gauge Railway will transform how we trade with our neighbors once it is completed. The LAPPSET project will open the northern corridor.
A new stream of opportunities to Kenyans and the region as a whole will flow freely. We are a ranked 8th globally as a powerhouse in renewable energy in the form of geothermal power. Olkaria is considered as one of the most exciting geothermal prospects in the world.
Our nation is a continent leader in ICT. We have challenged warped narratives about Africa simply by the power of 140 characters. Innovations by young Kenyans are changing the landscape of ICT in Africa. Ihub and other centers including Bloggers Association of Kenya are all doing something to increase the digital space for Kenyans. The government with its laptop project will expand the minds of our children in school. Innovation will now be part and parcel of the curriculum.
Over 50 years after independence, Kenya has made tremendous efforts. We have risen from the abyss and like the proverbial phoenix, we are into a glorious day. Our institutions are stronger and independent. We are a hotbed of attractions across the continent of Africa. Kenya is rising literally.
But the Achilles’ heel that has disturbed the country is how to convert our potential so that we can take over the global stage. Though our politics have grown, we need to ensure that the growth is accelerated so that the economy doesn’t sneeze when politics catches a cold.
Fellow Kenyans, moving forward, the future is bright. The potential of our nation is barely scratched. With oil discovered in Turkana and some parts of the country, the potential is enormous. Young people will be employed, those who have the power can invest in value addition in the oil supply chain among others. Agribusiness is big in Kenya. With swelling population and rapid urbanization, farmers will feed the masses.
The potential in counties has not yet been scratched. From housing, agriculture, ICT, training, hospitality industry and even trade, the 47 counties of Kenya have opened numerous windows of opportunities and we must tap into them.