, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 20 – It is my great pleasure to join you as we celebrate the first Mashujaa Day since the inception of our Second Republic that came into being following the promulgation of our new Constitution.
Mashujaa are men and women who have made a lasting mark in the lives of fellow Kenyans and in the history and development of our country. They are men and women who have taken great risks in service to save, advance and protect their fellow citizens. These are also men and women whose hard work, courage and perseverance have had a great impact on the socio-economic well being of our people.
On this historic day, I salute our early Mashujaa who resisted colonisation. We remember the courage of Mekatilili wa Menza and the bravery of Koitalel arap Samoei. We shall also never forget the heroic contribution of Harry Thuku and Muindi Mbingu.
Today, we pay special tribute to the founding father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and his compatriots Achieng’ Oneko, Paul Ngei, Bildad Kaggia, Kung’u Karumba and Fred Kubai. We also pay tribute to Dedan Kimathi and his comrades. These great Kenyans, through courage and determination, galvanised the struggle for Kenya’s independence.
While the Kapenguria Six and many others were in detention, the flame of independence was kept burning by nationalists among them Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Ronald Ngala, Masinde Muliro, Tom Mboya, Martin Shikuku, Jean Marie Seroney, Bernard Mate, Lawrence Sagini, James Gichuru, Pio Gama Pinto and retired President Daniel arap Moi to mention but a few.
We also acknowledge and appreciate the post independence Mashujaa whose service to our nation has contributed to the social and economic progress we have achieved as well as the greater democratic space that we enjoy today.
Our present day Mashujaa are those who, through hard work and perseverance, are creating agricultural, industrial and service enterprises that have created jobs and increased incomes for Kenyans. We are particularly proud of our companies that have made regional and global impact through innovation and export of goods and services. Among them are Kenya Airways, Equity Bank, Co-operative Bank, KCB Bank, Bidco, East Africa Breweries, Safaricom, as wll as our world class tea and flower farms.
Our scholars have also placed us on the international map and inspired a new generation of Mashujaa. These include: Scientist Thomas Odhiambo, historian Bethuel Ogot, political scientist Ali Mazrui, author Ngugi wa Thiong’o, public health specialist Miriam Were, as well the Nobel laureate and environmentalist Wangari Maathai.
Until Kipchoge Keino and Naphtali Temu won gold medals in the Mexico Olympic Games of 1968, we had never imagined that an African could win an Olympic gold medal.
Furthermore, until a few years ago when Catherine Ndereba and Tecla Lorupe stamped their authority on the marathon circuit, we never imagined that Kenyan women would command global leadership in athletics.
Today, Kenyans are dominating Olympic, Commonwealth and continental athletics and our rugby team continues to shine. These are some of our modern day Mashujaa. They are making us proud and confident that we have the ability, the will and courage to win. Indeed, we are a country of winners. The Government is committed to honouring our national mashujaa. In this regard, we will establish a National Heroes Monument at Heroes Corner in Uhuru Gardens. We are planning to erect the monument by the end of next year.
Two months ago, we promulgated our new Constitution. This Constitution creates the framework for an enabling environment for transforming our nation. We have created institutions of governance that have the necessary checks and balances to ensure that there is no abuse of power and human rights. The institutions will ensure that those in authority are accountable to the Kenyan people and that the public service is efficient and responsive to the needs of the population.
For the first time in our country’s history, we shall have a truly devolved government where substantial resources will be distributed equitably among the 47 counties. These resources will be managed by the county governments. This will bring government nearer to our communities and empower the citizens. The new Constitution also provides a legal framework for gender equality and women empowerment.
The Grand Coalition Government is working hard to develop all parts of our country. We are implementing Vision 2030 as a development strategy to transform Kenya into a middle-income country with a high quality of life within the next 20 years.
Over the last seven years, we have focused our attention on expanding and enriching our education system so that it is accessible to all Kenyans. Now, primary education is free. Moreover, day secondary education is free while those in public boarding secondary schools enjoy free tuition.
We have more than doubled university admissions and created 13 university colleges. Our universities have opened campuses in many towns. This has made university education accessible to many of our people. The government is also funding, equipping and providing teachers to youth polytechnics with the intention of fully taking over the management of these institutions.
Our interventions in the education sector are driven by the realization that there is no greater investment that a country can make than in the education of its people. I wish to thank teachers across the country for the great role they have played to ensure success in our education sector.
In addition to education, we have invested heavily in the development of infrastructure especially improvement of the road network, electricity generation and distribution and telecommunication network. We are also modernising our airports and sea ports. These investments are intended to make our country globally competitive as well as a regional hub for investment, services and commerce.
We are now focusing more on food security. In the past, we have been vulnerable during periods of drought that have become more recurrent. This is as a result of climate change which is a matter of global concern. The Grand Coalition Government is implementing an ambitious policy to lessen our dependency on rain-fed agriculture. We are currently building five big multipurpose dams and many more small ones for water storage and small scale irrigation. I appeal to all Kenyans to develop a culture of harvesting and storing rain water.
I also call upon Kenyans to reserve 10 percent of our land for tree cover as stipulated in our Constitution. With our concerted efforts, this target can be achieved with minimal effort. The Kenya Forest Service has been directed to expand its tree nurseries so that we have enough tree seedlings. Trees are not only important for water conservation and rainfall but they are also an important resource for domestic and commercial use. Trees are a source of wealth and I call upon more Kenyans to venture into this line of business.
Our industrial sector has not realised its full potential. No country can attain middle level economic status without growing its industrial base, especially the manufacturing and processing sector. It is important that we provide an enabling environment for the growth of investments in the manufacturing and value addition sectors. There is no limit for the market of manufactured products as long as they are of the right quality and price.
An example of Kenya’s industrial potential is the textile industry. Unfortunately, many textile mills are now idle. It is important that we revive this industry since it will serve as a market for our cotton farmers and will create jobs for our youth.
The ministries of agriculture and industrialisation should pay special attention to the cotton sector and proactively develop policy measures that will support the numerous linkages of the industry.
It has now been confirmed that our country has substantial amounts of coal and iron ore deposits which can be processed commercially to provide a basis for the steel industry. A vibrant steel industry is one of the foundations of an industrialised nation. We must move with speed to exploit these resources.
To further support our industrial base, we need to concentrate more on training design engineers in our polytechnics and universities. The training of engineers should also be linked to industries to enable students develop practical skills.
Our urban population now stands at 32 percent and is rising rapidly. Consequently, the Government is paying special attention to the development of cities and urban areas. The challenge, however, is the rapid population growth in these areas which has outstripped available housing and utilities.
We are providing incentives for housing development with the view of meeting the housing gap of about 100,000 units per year.
I challenge our industrialists and property developers to be more innovative so that we have affordable and sustainable building materials. Our vision is to get rid of slums from our country by the year 2030. To ease pressure in our urban centres, the Government is creating new growth centres. We are establishing special economic zones which are intended to create new investments in industrial and service enterprises to create jobs for our people.
I also wish to emphasise that the Government is stepping up security in all parts of our country. Security is a cornerstone of development and measures are being taken to ensure the safety of the people and their property.
As a Government, we have also instructed all the relevant government agencies to take the necessary action against those engaged in acts of corruption. Corruption is a great impediment to good governance and we must all do more to effectively and decisively deal with this vice.
In conclusion, I once again salute all Kenyans on this great day that shall forever be embedded in our nation’s history as the first Mashujaa Day. It is also our first national day after the promulgation of the new Constitution. Our new constitutional dispensation is the product of a Kenyan-driven process and is a fitting tribute to our founding fathers and freedom fighters. The new Constitution provides us with the framework for shared economic prosperity, social inclusion and political stability. Let us embrace this new order with courage and optimism.
Finally, I wish all students and pupils who are sitting for national examinations the best of luck. I especially note that the first group of students who have enjoyed eight full years of the free primary education will be sitting their exams in November. I extend my best wishes to you and God’s blessings in your future endeavours.
THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS KENYA.