, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 20 – President Mwai Kibaki has on Friday urged Kenyans to join hands in fighting negative ethnicity that divides the country and instead to put every effort towards the realization of a harmonious and united nation.
President Kibaki urged Kenyans to reflect on the importance of promoting a strong sense of nationhood, national cohesion and integration so as to achieve one Kenyan nation.
The President underlined that every Kenyan must always bear in mind their individual responsibility in promoting patriotism and peaceful co-existence among all citizens.
President Kibaki asserted: “It is for this reason that my Government established the National cohesion and Integration Commission. I am confident that the Commission will act firmly in executing its mandate especially as we approach the next general elections.”
The Head of State admitted that the path to the country’s prosperity required every citizen to reflect on how to work within the context of nation’s diverse cultural backgrounds.
He expressed delight that this year’s national drama festivals had chosen to use ‘enhancing national cohesion and integration’ as the theme of the countrywide competitions.
The President made the remarks at State House Gardens, Nairobi when the finalists of the recently concluded National Drama Festivals Finalists staged a State Concert in his honour.
President Kibaki observed: “I am particularly encouraged that this year’s Festival theme was on Enhancing National Cohesion and Integration. This theme is especially relevant as it draws attention to our collective responsibility of strengthening our sense of patriotism and nationhood,”
“I urge Kenyans to reflect on the important theme -of enhancing national cohesion and integration. Let us all embrace the Festival’s valuable message of working together to create a harmonious, one Kenyan Nation.”
During the occasion, the President reiterated the Government’s commitment to harness the talents of the Kenyan youth as an important resource in the development of the country.
He emphasized that the Government was steadfast in its commitment to empower the youth to optimally exploit their rich and abundant talents by providing conducive environment for artists to thrive and exploit their talents.
The President remarked: “As government we are investing resources at the Kenya Talent Academy to ensure that we promote our local artistes. Youth should take advantage of this academy.”
In this regard the Head of State called for a strengthened partnership between the Government, the private and civil society sectors ensure guaranteed success in the preparation of youth to be productive and successful citizens.
He applauded the substantial financial and material support extended to the festivals from Mumias Sugar Company as title sponsors and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission as the thematic sponsors and urged well-wishers to extend similar support to the education sector through such events.
President Kibaki assured that the Government would continue committing a sizeable amount of resources for development of co-curricular activities adding that this year alone at least Shs 400 million been allocated to support the festivals from the zonal to the national level.
He was delighted that these Government efforts were bearing fruit as evidenced by the phenomenal growth in the number of participants in the music and drama festivals.
The Head of State noted, “This year, the Festival recorded a high number of participants with 10,200 taking part at the national level compared to 9,870 last year. At the lower levels, over 400,000 participated.”
He added: “In recognition of the importance of co-curricular activities, my Government has continued to commit financial and other resources for their development. Since 2003, my Government has continued to promote the development of co-curricular activities in our institutions of learning without levying the parents.”
The President underscored that arts such as music and drama played an important role not only in the intellectual and moral development of learners but also acted as a major source of employment.
He acknowledged, “As a Government, our primary responsibility is to provide services that meet the needs and aspirations of our people. Education is an agent that enables the Government to fulfill this noble responsibility.”
In this regard, the Head of State advocated that the ongoing reforms in the country should align the education sector to the new constitutional dispensation and the country’s development blue print, Vision 2030.
“You should seize this opportunity to come up with appropriate structures that will entrench the performing arts in our education system so that these activities can be fully developed in all corners of our country,” remarked the Head of State.
The Head of State commended the quality of the artistic pieces presented during the concert terming them unique and of very high standards and congratulated the performers for their impressive performance and emerging victorious in their respective categories.
He said, “I also thank the Ministry of Education and all those involved in the Festival for a job well done.”
Speaking during the occasion Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo said a new education policy is being developed to reflect articles 53, 55 and 57 of the constitution.
Mr Kilonzo noted that the bringing together of talents in all educational institutions from the early childhood to university level would harmonize the spirit and letter of the constitution.
Others who spoke included acting Education Permanent Secretary Prof. George Godia and the chairman, Kenya National Drama Festival, Kahura Chokera.
Among the attendants were Information Minister Samuel Poghisio, Education Assistant Minister Prof. Ayiecho Olweny, acting Head of Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet Francis Kimemia and the chairman National Cohesion and Integration Commission Mzalendo Kibunjia among other senior government officials.