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Mashujaa Day set tone for future leaders

By | October 21st 2010

The first Mashujaa Day came and went exceedingly well. And apart from the arena events at Nyayo national stadium, 136 other Kenyans joined the list of shujaas (heroes and heroines), whose names and deeds will remain etched on the nation’s collective memory forever.

Leading the celebration of this landmark day was President Kibaki, and in his speech, everything that this renamed holiday should represent was detailed comprehensively.

The message must serve to re-energise the country’s focus on the whole rather than the myopia of self-interest and self-aggrandisement.

Indeed, the President started by defining what shujaa is, saying: “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.”

There is no better way of defining our heroes than this for it is broad enough to include every facet of human endeavour and also, specific enough to single out each national star, whose achievement will for eons serve as a beacon for anyone seeking a role model.

And in this regard, he made a solemn promise to establish a National Heroes Monument at Heroes Corner in Uhuru Gardens. This was one of the Narc Government’s earliest promises when Kibaki ascended to power. And it shall, by next year, come to fruition during the twilight part of his term in office.

Loomed large

Tellingly, the President did not restrict the significance of this day to the Founding Fathers and Independence heroes and heroines. Wisely, he widened the scope to include post-colonial era stalwarts that have propelled Kenya to the pedestals of human achievement among the wider community of nations.

Even as the pre-1963 colossuses loomed large, they only prove a reference point and mirror for today’s achievers to continue the dream. These include athletes, whose exploits have caused the Kenya National Anthem to be belted out in foreign lands most people only see on maps, and peacekeepers who risk their lives to ensure citizens of countries suffering civil strife sleep soundly and go about the business re-building their nations.

Trailblazers in the fields of sociology, anthropology, scientific discovery, business, research and development, to mention but a few, have made Kenya a household name beyond our immediate continent and horizons.

Not to be forgotten is the seedbed of tomorrow’s Mashujaa, the youth, who are tomorrow’s leaders and visionaries. To them is the mantle handed to emulate their seniors. To them is the hearth of Kenya’s pride entrusted.

And as the President pointed out, thousands of them shall next month form the first batch that enjoyed eight full years of free education.

The current leadership has laid the groundwork by giving them an enabling environment by hammering out an extensive economic roadmap (Vision 2030), building schools, expanding institutions of higher learning, stocking hospitals, declaring zero-tolerance on corruption and promulgated a new set of laws under the new Constitution.

The younger generation must now take the baton and continue the race.

Frowned upon

Admittedly, nobody sets out to be a hero, but one’s accomplishments thereof, once recognised by peers, are what determine whether one would receive accolades.

Such recognition will not come through truancy, becoming a social misfit, burning school dormitories, ingesting drugs and other psychotropic substances or joining organised criminal outfits.

Rebellion against legitimate authority is also frowned upon. Basically, the traits of national heroes and heroines are there for all to see, appreciate and emulate and their tracks easy to follow.

Try and be a shujaa today.

You will find yourself in good company and part of one of the greatest countries in the world today.

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