Fellow Kenyans, Friends of Kenya,
On this night 50 years ago, Kenyans gathered at these grounds to conduct a solemn and expectant vigil. It was a night of momentous culminations. That night was at once the dusk of oppression, and the golden dawn of Liberty.
It was an incredible night when the people gathered to witness what, to their minds, seemed utterly impossible only two years before.
They had come to bear witness to the humble descent and retreat of the terrifying and arrogant colonial order, and the rise and setting forth of the triumphant and heroic independence movement. On that night, Empire waned even as our proud new Nation waxed. Kenyans needed to see it and believe it.
On this sacred night, Africans witnessed the symbolic abrogation of tyranny, and the inauguration of self-determination. Here at this place, they saw with their eyes the conclusion of the horror, humiliation, pain and suffering of colonialism, heard the stirring strains of the songs and sounds of freedom, and felt the rousing energy of a people finally liberated.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As the Union Jack made its final descent, humbled and bereft of its asperity, our people felt great relief. To witness colonialism’s imperious emblem descend into the darkness of eternal ignominy was like holding Justice in one’s arms.
Our people’s relief transformed into euphoric rejoicing as the flag of our newly born Republic ascended its staff, proud and beautiful, to claim the light above. The struggle had succeeded. Our unity and sovereignty had prevailed. Independence was at hand, and we were, finally, masters of our own destiny.
This, then, is the great Night of our deliverance. It is the Morning of our vindication. While it was a pitch dark midnight in our part of the world, here in Kenya, we only saw the bright moon and basked in the warm, blessed light of Freedom, Unity and Justice. It was a great night, ushering a great morning and beginning the greatest days of our country.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let us join hands to commemorate that golden moment, and to honour all those whose labour and sacrifice made it happen. Let us pledge eternal remembrance, gratitude and respect for their fine achievement, which has made it possible for us to live freely in a united country where our contribution counts. Let us dedicate ourselves to defending the freedom and sovereignty they secured at such great cost, and to resist tyranny and exploitation at all times. Let us stand united and committed to make Kenya, East Africa and Africa prosperous, peaceful and united.
Tonight, we bear testimony of our fidelity to the aspirations of our freedom fighters, independence heroes and founding fathers. In time, we have overcome much to become a modern, open, democratic nation doing its best for its citizens and neighbours. Over the years, we have strengthened our self-determination, individual freedoms and accountable government.
Our independence has made us a greater, not lesser people. Africans are healthier, better fed, literate and richer than we were under colonialism.
We have forged an unshakeable consensus to use our resources to bring a better life to all our citizens. We are on our way to becoming a richer and better country to live in.
Over the next 50 years, we will make Kenya more glorious, and make our forefathers proud. We not only embraced independence with great rejoicing, we also undertook the responsibilities that accompany freedom with dedication and zeal. We will honour everyone whose constant service has brought us stability, prosperity and better government. We will banish corruption and laziness from our shores.
It is therefore my great joy to join the people of Kenya in celebrating freedom. I just want you all to know, and never forget what wonderful folk you are. I thank God for the people of Kenya, and I celebrate and honour all of you. Let us all celebrate and honour us. Let us love our each other, and our beautiful country. At all times, let us recall the message of our freedom fighters: this land is our land. Kenya is our home, hope and destiny.
As we raise our flag on these grounds, let us reflect on the significance of its colours and the words of our National Anthem. Let us also dedicate ourselves to the National Values inscribed in our new Constitution. As I inaugurate the Jamhuri Day celebrations, I call upon everyone to remember the great task ahead of us for the next 50 years.
In our joy, let us not forget our many friends throughout the world, who never forsook us in time of need. They have always stood by us. We thank all of them, honour and bless them. We also welcome them to rejoice with us, and reflect on the distance we have travelled together.
Let the world witness and share our joys, our hopes and our purposeful endeavor as they rise with our flag and shine beautifully under the African sky. I dedicate this flag-raising to all the people of Kenya and our friends, to Freedom, Unity and our Constitution, and to our collective efforts and aspirations.
(Speech by Uhuru Kenyatta during the Kenya@50 celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi)