By His Excellency Mwai Kibaki, The President
I am pleased to join you for this year’s Mashujaa Day. On this important occasion, we celebrate the achievements of our freedom fighters. In addition, Mashujaa Day affords us the opportunity to celebrate post-independence and modern-day heroes and heroines who have brought pride and joy to our beloved country.
We honor our freedom fighters led by the founding father of our nation, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. Because of their sacrifices and commitment, Kenya attained independence. We also pay tribute to the leaders of Kenya’s Second Liberation. The multi-party democracy we enjoy today is as a result of their struggles.
Let us embrace the values and dreams for a better Kenya that these patriots had for our beloved country. In their honour we should redouble our efforts in making Kenya, a working and caring nation and a haven of peace, unity and prosperity.
In the last few months, Kenya has lost a number of eminent leaders and we celebrate their great achievements. Martin Shikuku was a seasoned politician who was at the forefront of fighting for the rights of Kenyans from the days of the Lancaster Conference right through the struggle for multi-party democracy. Njenga Karume was a businessman and political leader who modeled the example of starting from scratch and working hard in order to achieve success. John Michuki, Professor George Saitoti, Orwa Ojode, Geoffrey Kareithi and David Nalo were committed public servants who carried out their duties without fear or favour. Let us emulate the examples set by these great leaders.
Turning to present-day Mashujaa, on behalf of all Kenyans, I would like to commend members of the Kenya Defence Forces for their professionalism, bravery and sacrifice as they executed Kenya’s hunt for Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. These patriots have brought great pride to our country and region.
In the world of sports, Kenyans are proud of our athletes who continue to bring us glory in various competitions around the world. During the recently concluded Olympics and Paralympics Games held in London, our athletes won a total of four gold, six silver and seven bronze medals. We commend them for their hard work and commitment. Moreover, I congratulate the Captain of our Olympics Team, David Rudisha as well as Samuel Mushai and Abraham Tarbei for winning gold medals and breaking world records.
Our athletes have been some of our most effective ambassadors. They have carried Kenya’s good name to all parts of the world. When we hear our National Anthem played in different parts of the world, this gives us great pride as Kenyans.
There are other heroes and heroines in the public sector, private sector,the performing arts, academia, and technology who have made significant contributions to national development. We commend and celebrate them.
I also salute all Kenyans, who, in their own small ways, have made efforts to transform their local communities, our country and the world through acts of innovation and service.
Independence of a people is manifested in their efforts to take charge of their social, economic, cultural and political affairs. Kenya has made significant progress in these areas. On the economic front, our economy grew by four and a half per cent last year. It is projected to maintain this growth trend in the current year despite the harsh economic environment. Inflation fell to about five per cent, even though it is under pressure from rising oil prices.
Agriculture has shown strong resilience despite global challenges. Our food security situation has also improved significantly due to good harvest of major food commodities such as maize, rice, wheat, grains, and vegetables. One of the agricultural sub-sectors that have experienced impressive growth in the last few years is the tea industry. Tea is now our number one foreign exchange earner. I commend all stakeholders in the industry and especially the Kenya Tea Development Agency which manages 65 tea factories on behalf of over 560,000 farmers across the country for their consistent hard work and prudent management.
Other areas of our economy that have expanded are finance and banking; I.C.T.; building and construction; and hospitality. This growth was made possible by our prudent investment in infrastructure and social sectors in the last ten years. The Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation that we launched in 2003 and the Kenya VISION TWENTY THIRTY that we launched in 2008 laid a firm foundation for our development into a middle income country and significant progress has been achieved so far.
I also thank Kenyan taxpayers for paying their taxes. This has enabled us fund our transformative development agenda in areas such as infrastructure, healthcare and education. Paying taxes is a national duty and an act of patriotism.
The discovery of oil in Kenya also places us in a unique position to attain higher economic growth and prosperity for all.
Another great opportunity that our economy faces is the implementation of innovative business and industrialization ideas. I urge our researchers and innovators to patent their research findings and turn them into commercial endeavours. Private investors should fund these ideas so as to produce local goods and services for the mass market as well as create employment for our youth.
In addition, I call upon financial institutions to grant financing to our young people with creative business ideas. Most of our young people do not own any land or other assets to serve as security for loans but they need support through the provision of affordable and flexible credit. By supporting our youth, we will facilitate the development of a new generation of Mashujaa who will help us create thousands of jobs, bring about rapid industrialization and contribute to faster economic growth and development.
To achieve more prosperity for our people, we must guarantee our nation’s security. This is the reason why one year ago our Kenya Defence Forces were mandated by the Cabinet and Parliament, to pursue and deal with the threat of Al-Shabaab inside Somalia. Together with other AMISOM forces and the Somali Government Army, KDF have made major gains in dealing with the
Al- Shabaab menace. Early this month the forces successfully took control of the Port of Kismayu. I commend our KDF forces, the Somali Government Forces and AMISOM for a well executed take-over of Kismayu.
I once again send my heartfelt condolences to the families and relatives of our brave men and women who have lost their lives in the defense of their motherland. I also condole with the families of security forces who have died in the line of duty while hunting down terrorists and other dangerous elements within our borders. We salute them as modern day heroes and we wish all our security forces God’s favour and protection as they undertake their duties.
Let it be known to those who seek to harm us that we will not relent in the work we have begun. We shall get the job done, until we have order and security. Indeed, the gains we have made, call for our continued vigilance as the forces of terror will seek to fight back. Kenyans should work closely with our security forces and the Provincial Administration so that we flush out all dangerous elements who threaten our security.
I would like to reiterate that Kenya’s only interest in Somalia is to bring peace, stability and eventual prosperity to our neighbours. We would like to see our 700,000 Somali brothers and sisters who live in refugee camps safely return to their motherland. Our forces will remain in Somalia for only as long as is necessary, as we work towards restoring normalcy under the umbrella of AMISOM. Kenya stands ready to help the people and Government of Somalia during the reconstruction process.
I also appeal to the international community to come to the aid of the people of Somalia to ensure that they consolidate the gains made so far. In bringing about peace in our neighbouring country, we shall also intensify efforts to ensure that peace and stability reigns within our borders.
I took an oath to defend our Constitution, the people and the Republic of Kenya, and I intend to abide by that oath. As a Government we will take firm and decisive action in dealing with those who have issued threats of secession or those who threaten our security. Kenya is one unitary state. The Constitution is clear on that and so is our history. Let us learn from that history and not seek to distort it and let us respect our Constitution.
We are due to hold our next General Election early next year. The Government has put in place the necessary institutions and legal structures to ensure that we have a free, fair and peaceful election. As we approach this historic event, I appeal to all political leaders and their supporters to engage in peaceful campaigns. Let us all remember that Kenya’s collective destiny is far more important than the interest of any individual person or group.
I advise Kenyans to turn out in large numbers and register as voters when the exercise kicks off next month. The Government is fast-tracking the issuance of national Identity Cards to Kenyans who have attained the age of 18 years to enable our youth take part in the elections. Taking part in an election is the sure way of influencing the political and economic destiny of your county and nation.
In conclusion, I urge all Kenyans to seek to be Mashujaa in their individual ways. We become Mashujaa by abiding by the law of the land, carrying out our civic duties, being our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, taking care of the environment, and playing our part in the transformation of our communities and country. As we do this, let us unite in our common goal of building a prosperous, just and equitable nation for the welfare of all Kenyans.
Finally, I once again convey my best wishes to our students as they sit for their national examinations. The Government is taking steps to ensure that the process goes on smoothly.
Asanteni na Mungu Awabariki.