Speech By His Excellency Hon. Uhuru
Kenyatta, C.G.H., President Of The Republic
Of Kenya And Commander-In-Chief Of The
Defence Forces During The 11th Mashujaa
Day Celebrations On Tuesday, 20th October,
2020 At Gusii Stadium, Kisii County
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
Happy Mashujaa Day.
Let me first and foremost thank you, the Abagusii, for your
To celebrate the cultural diversity of Kenya and strengthen
our nationhood, my Administration made the decision to hold
our national celebrations in the counties, on a rotational basis.
Today, Kisii joins the counties of; Nakuru, Nyeri, Machakos,
Meru, Kakamega, Narok and Mombasa in having played host to
a national celebration. In the near future, we shall announce
where next year’s Madaraka Day will be hosted.
My Fellow Kenyans,
We gather here today to celebrate 68 years of history and
heroism as a country. We are well aware that the Abagusii
Community is not short of heroes.
In the senior ranks of the Abagusii heroes, you will encounter
Paramount Chief Angwenyi Kingoina Gichana, and Senior
Chiefs Onsongo Angwenyi, Ooga Angwenyi, Zacharia
Angwenyi Ooga, Musa Nyandusi and Assa Onyiego.
The makers of the Kenyan Nation at Independence tapped
into the abilities of your sons and daughters, heralding the birth
of a strong and a vibrant Nation whose story cannot be complete
without the mention of Lawrence Sagini, James Nyamweya and
Thereafter, following in the steps of the independence
Abagusii heroes, many others heeded the call to serve in the
public arena with some rising to high echelons of the public
service as high standing Cabinet Ministers, formidable
legislators and influential judicial figures. Amongst them being
Hon. George Moseti Anyona, M.P., Simeon Nyachae, Justice
Onyiego Nyarangi, just to mention a few. Once again, I thank
you for your warm welcome.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On this day, in 1952, a State of Emergency was declared in
Kenya by the British. They arrested over 200 of our leaders,
including the Kapenguria Six; and started one of the darkest
chapters in the history of our Nation.
The atrocities visited upon thousands of our people during
this emergency period can NEVER be described by any account
of history. Even the secret ‘histories of the hanged’ in detention
camps, cannot capture the pain of what was later called the
‘dirty war’ between the British and our liberation heroes.
Fathers were taken away from their families never to return;
while those that did, limped back home, some having been
castrated – and permanently robbed the joy of ever being a
parent; mothers were maimed by marauding soldiers never to
recover; and innocent children were forcedly conscripted into
the war and turned against their own.
The darkness of this ‘dirty war’ and its imprint on the psyche
of our Nation, will remain alive in our memories forever.
However, the Founding Father of our Nation, Mzee Jomo
Kenyatta advised us that for our country to heal and move
forward, “…We must forgive; but we can NEVER forget”.
This advice to forgive and not to forget, was not a call to
begrudge the perpetrators of the darkest part of our history. It
was a call to remind our children about our past every Mashujaa
Day; and to do it recognizing that liberation is a process. The
more we ponder our history in its truest form, the more liberated
we become. But those who whitewash and dodge their history
become victims of its ugly parts.
This day, the 20th of October, was set aside by our
Forefathers because there is no country without a history. And
there is no history without heroes. The day was also set aside to
remind us that history is not just about the past. Our history is
actually a torch that blazes a trail into the future as well. And
that is why I invite you, today, to reflect with me on the heroes
and the heroines that defined our nationhood.
Although we speak of October 1952 as a hallmark date in the
history of our heroes, tales of heroism in Kenya date back to the
19th Century, well over 100 years ago. And this is testament to
the fact that our national pride is not a recent affair. It is
something engrained in our consciousness as a people.
For instance, Chief Waiyaki wa Hinga led a resistance
movement of the Agikuyu against the leadership of the British
administration towards the end of the 19th Century. His main
complaint was that the colonizers were excessive in their
demand for livestock and labour from his people. And during
one of the disagreements, he is said to have burnt down a British
establishment in his jurisdiction in 1890.
Two years later, in 1892, Waiyaki wa Hinga was arrested and
buried alive at Manyani Maximum Prison in Taita Taveta. He
died a hero. And today, I cannot be more proud than I was last
week, when in the same venue in Manyani, I introduced the
future heroes of our Nation. This is a group of 800 young men
and women engaged in ground-breaking innovations for the
future of our country.
Another hero from this era was Mukile wa Nameme, leader of
the Bukusu Resistance of 1895. A brave soldier and a skilled
military man, Wa Nameme is said to have beaten the British
soldiers in his first battle against them at Chetambe Hills near
Webuye. He died a hero.
But not all our 19th Century heroes were men. A Giriama
widow by the name of Mekatilili wa Menza distinguished
herself as one of the foremost warriors of her time.
Born in 1840, she led the Giriama Resistance against the
British Empire between 1912 and 1915. Her grievance against
the British administration was forced Giriama labour that
undignified her people.
She was arrested twice and put in colonial maximum prisons.
And in both instances, she escaped. The first escape was
actually from here in Kisii, where after escaping, she walked for
over 800 kilometers back home.
She made her second escape from Kismayu in Somalia back
to Kilifi to continue leading the Giriama Resistance. Such spirit
of resilience and constant ‘come-backs’ is what we have banked
in our historical records as heroism.
A new generation of liberation leaders, inspired by these 19th
Century heroes, emerged from the 1920s. They included
among others; Jomo Kenyatta, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Harry
Thuku, Achieng Oneko, Daniel arap Moi, Masinde Muliro and
Paul Ngei, to name a few.
This generation was more enlightened in Western tactics and
begun to use pen and paper to advance the course of the African
people. This is the generation that laid the foundation stone for
our modern nation-state. And that is why we call them the
Founding Fathers of this Nation.
In the late 1940s, a new generation who had fought side by
side with the British soldiers during the Second World War,
emerged. This generation was heroic on many accounts.
They fought the Mau Mau war against the British Empire and
won. And thereafter, together with the Founding Fathers they
negotiated and drafted our constituting instruments for the birth
of a new nation-state; and fundamentally, they started the
journey of founding our nationhood from scratch.
But what enduring lessons can we highlight, as a nation, from
the examples of these ordinary men and women who became our
heroes? What must we teach our children every Mashujaa Day
from the acts of these heroes?
These liberation heroes were people who sacrificed
themselves for an ideal bigger than themselves. These heroes,
some of them buried in unmarked graves, understood that no
weapon is more lethal than the will of a free people. They
sacrificed for this high ideal, negotiated when they had to, but
vowed never to surrender. Their resolve remained unbroken and
Some historians have argued that these heroes were extraordinary people. But nothing can be further from the truth.
These veterans were ordinary people who became extra-ordinary
because of the choices they made.
They did not start out as heroes who did big things; their
heroism was only revealed as they stubbornly confronted
obstacles that stood in their path to freedom. They only became
heroes moment by moment as the liberation of our country from
the shackles of the colonizer unfolded.
You may ask why I just said that creating our nation-hood is a
journey started by our Founding Fathers, but one that is yet to be
completed. I say so because nationhood is not an event; it is a
When our Founding Fathers emerged from the liberation war
with fresh wounds, bloodied faces and years of incarceration,
they had only one desire.
They had vanquished the enemy, alright, but the task of
bringing together 42 nations into a single nation-state, was still
They knew that this would be a journey. They knew that
summoning the consciousness of 42 nations to a singular
purpose under the nation-state would take constant negotiations
and re-negotiation. And borrowing from their own historical
experiences, this process of constantly reviewing our nationhood
would only happen through the unremitting search for a
This position was strongly advocated by another group of our
heroes known as the ‘constitutionalists’. Apart from being the
architects of our new state and the engineers of our new
economic order, they pushed for the practice of constantly
building a constitutional consensus.
To them, constitution making was not a rigid end-point. It
was a constantly moving target that required continuous
consensus. More so because they saw constitution making as
being a process first, and then an act after. While the act of
constitution making is an end-state in itself, the process is a
constant negotiation and re-negotiation of our nationhood.
Guided by this philosophy of constitutional consensus, these
heroes went through as many as four constitutions before
landing on a workable consensus. And their mantra in this
search was best captured by former Vice-President Joseph
Murumbi, when he said that: “…there is nothing wrong with
Kenya that cannot be fixed by what is right with Kenya”.
If the Littleton Constitution of 1954 was wrong, it was made
right by the Lennox Boyd Constitution of 1958. When this
constitution outlived its consensus, the Ian McLeod Constitution
of 1960, kicked in. And the search for a common ground
continued until the independence constitution was adopted. But
even then, this constitution was adopted as a cease-fire
document to facilitate independence.
After independence, the Lancaster Consensus was replaced by
a new consensus and the cycle of constantly negotiating our
When I cautioned against constitutional rigidity in my
Madaraka Day address this year, this is exactly what I meant.
Our Founding Fathers and constitutional heroes did not intend
our constitutional order to enslave us. They constructed it to
serve us. And when it ceased to serve us, we are meant to
borrow from the example of our Founding Fathers and rethink it.
More so if the National Question of the day requires a
The country is staring at a constitutional moment. And the
National Question goes back to the advent of our multi-party
For indeed, it was after the re-introduction of political
pluralism in 1992 that negative politics begun to dominate our
national arena. The question at hand and one requiring a
constitutional consensus is therefore this: How do we resolve the
winner-take-all situation within a context of competitive politics
as required by democratic practice? And how do we ensure we
fulfill our democratic credentials without reaping apart the
diversity of our nation-state?
This question of “us” versus “them” must come to an end.
And as we exercise our democratic rights, it must never again be
at the expense of our diversity. The cardinal principle must
always be our unity in diversity.
Yes, the 2010 Constitution gave us some remedies, but did it
resolve or entrench the zero-sum game, in which the winner
takes it all and the loser goes home with nothing?
Are we still in the zero-sum constitutional dispensation that
created conflict since the advent of multi-party politics in 1992?
And how do we expect to resolve this problem using elections
instead of constitutional change?
It would, indeed, be a tragedy if, come subsequent elections,
we will not have resolved this dilemma. And that is why I urge
the country to ponder a constitutional consensus around a threepronged National Question.
On the one part, the Question is political inclusion. Instead of
a zero-sum constitutional equation, can we adopt a positive-sum
equation? Can we adopt a constitutional arrangement that takes
care of our diversity as a people?
And on this, we should not give my suggestion the parochial
interpretation of creating positions for individuals. I am only
urging for a constitutional consensus that accommodates all
communities in an election. A consensus that makes it possible
for any Kenyan to lead this country, working hand in hand with
his or her brothers and sisters from across the Nation.
The second part of the National Question at hand, is about
equity in the distribution of opportunities and resources. Our
political practice has been such that, resources and opportunity
go to those occupying positions of power. And that is why
elections are so divisive and emotive.
But it is possible for us to entrench the principle of equity in
distribution of resources and opportunities in the Constitution.
This way, the Constitution will guarantee that no one is
The third part of the National Question speaks to the
contestations and violence every electoral cycle. One year
before every election, the economy shuts down as it anticipates
the turns and twists of the election.
And one year after the election, the economy is still on a goslow as markets wrap themselves around the emerging political
constellations. This means that in every electoral cycle of five
years, two years are wasted exclusively attending to electoral
The Quest to liberate our land was also fueled by the desire to
drive hunger, ignorance, disease and unemployment from our
Unless the economy is sustainably expanding to
accommodate the youths graduating every year, then we are
robbing our children their future.
Therefore, as part of the National Question, we are called to
create an environment where enterprise can thrive by
continuously attracting capital into the country. Premature
campaigns and endless electioneering creating anxiety, akin to
what we are witnessing creeping into our Nation today.
Truly, this is not what the constitutionalists at independence
wanted for us. And if we do not change it now, when we have a
constitutional moment, this problem will plague our country for
years on end. My invitation to the country, therefore, is to have
an honest conversation with itself on this. And we MUST not
shy away from taking BOLD decisions the way our Founding
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We cannot talk about our independence heroes without
mentioning the diaspora fraternity that supported our liberation
struggle, yet they were not Kenyans. Former Prime Minister of
India, the late Jawaharial Nehru was one of the very early
supporters of our struggle.
When the Kapenguria Six were put on trial, he provided part
of the legal team that defended them. His rationale was that the
liberation struggle anywhere in the colonies was a struggle to
liberate the human spirit first; and to gain self-rule second.
The other diaspora heroes of our liberation included the
leadership of the Pan-Africanist movement. Indeed, this week
marks the 75th year since the 5th Pan-African Conference was
held in Manchester between the 16th to the 21st of October,
In attendance were; W. E. B. Du Bois who presided over the
sessions, George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Ras Makonen,
Wallace Johnson, C.L.R. James and Jomo Kenyatta.
This Conference pledged to support the liberation movement
in Kenya. And indeed, they stayed the course. The spirit of PanAfrican imagination, brotherhood without borders and the
craving for an African Renaissance, is one we need to recapture
as we celebrate our diaspora heroes today.
But we must also remember that our Founding Fathers were
Pan-Africanists. And to uphold their vision, we must support
the African dream of working together, living together and
building the unity of the African continent.
We must also celebrate today, our young people. They are our
heroes and yet we so often forget it.
As one statesman retorted: “…We do not own this country;
we have just borrowed it from our children” as represented by
our young people. And if history is not just a path to the past,
but a trail into the future, then a spotlight must be shone on our
young people this Mashujaa Day.
Did you know that the ‘Makers of this Nation’ were
dominated by young people who worked closely with a few
Did you know that the Independence Cabinet and the new
administration were also dominated by young people?
And did you know that the first draft of Sessional Paper
Number 10 of 1965, which became the blue print vision of our
economy, was written by a 29-year old technocrat known as
These young men were not extra-ordinary. They became our
independence heroes because they made more opportunities out
of the little that they had been given. Instead of focusing on the
hardships of building a new nation from the ground up, they
focused on the possibilities. The independence war had taught
them that energy flows where attention goes. They had learnt
from the struggle that what you focus on grows and the words
you utter become flesh.
Our young liberators became heroes because they focused on
what could be done; and not the obstacles standing in their way.
Their attention was on the positive and the words they uttered
about their country, were full of optimism. This attitude of
positive energy made most of them heroes because they dared
do the impossible.
And here is a lesson to our young people today. As I said in
my Madaraka Day address, Kenya is still a work in progress. It
has its good and its bad; its ugly and its sweet.
If our attention goes to the bad and the ugly, all energy will
flow to the negative and we will become a nation of angry and
disillusioned people. But the young people who will embrace
the positive and the possible, will emerge as heroes and ‘makers
A good starting point for our young people is to look for a
problem and solve it. If you solve a problem, heroism and
success will naturally follow you. And I have three recent
examples to illustrate this here in Kenya.
The First one, last week on Friday, I invited my Cabinet and
the entire Nation as I unveiled a series of transformative
programmes and projects undertaken by our young people. The
team of over 800 young men and women, drawn from across the
Republic, have undertaken seminal programmes that include; the
National Wide Airborne Geophysical Survey, the Geospatial
Project, the Cyber Project, Drones and the National Security
These young innovators not only delivered high quality of
work, they also did so at a fraction of the set cost. For example,
in respect to the mapping of our national resources under the
National Airborne Geophysical Survey Project, a private firm
had quoted to do it at a cost of KSh. 30 billion, but our team of
young professionals have programmed to do the job at a cost of
KSh. 4 billion. Currently, this project is at 70% completion.
With the completion of this seminal project, the
comprehensive geology of our country is now known and that
information will be used to chart a path to prosperity and selfsufficiency for host communities and the wider Nation. Our
young people have similarly completed the mapping of our
entire country to the sub-location level, an endevour that was
last undertaken in 1972.
Thanks to their efforts, we now have an annotated inventory
of all public utilities across the country, all public infrastructure,
all schools both public or private, all hospitals and all other
public utilities, and a description of all physical developments
all the way to individual homes.
Because of this, the next frontier of e-Commerce within our
Nation will be powered by the National Address System that
will be rolled out across our Nation. The e-Commerce trade
channel will be serviced with drones made by Kenyans for
The Second one is about two engineering students from Jomo
Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
The two, Michael Mwaisakenyi and Ken Gicira, created an
automated weeding robot to help farmers eliminate the need for
herbicides in their crops.
The robot uses artificial intelligence to discriminate between
weeds and crops. The innovation has a robotic arm for weeding
in-between the crop row and a plough-like weeding tool, that is
dragged by the robot as it passes in between the rows of crops to
remove inter-row weeds.
This innovation emerged winner of the 2020 Imagine Cup,
beating teams from across nine European, Middle Eastern and
African countries. The innovation is scheduled for presentation
at the Imagine World Championship in Seattle, Washington
Added to the many innovations from our young people during
the COVID-19 Crisis, the Third heroic example I wish to
mention, is that of Roy Allela, holder of a Bachelor’s degree in
Microprocessor Technology and Instrumentation, from the
University of Nairobi.
This 25-year old engineer had a strong urge to communicate
with his 6-year old deaf niece. He had a problem to solve and
he did not shy away from it. After many experiments, he finally
managed to create a pair of smart gloves that helped him
communicate with his deaf niece. These gloves have flex
sensors that help the deaf wearer, communicate and vocalize
messages to a mobile phone through Bluetooth.
These gloves are made to be customized to any client’s
specifications and have 93% accuracy of vocalizing messages.
By solving the problem of his 6-year old niece, Roy Allela
has created a solution that will help thousands of deaf people
globally. This innovation has won the Hardware Trailblazer
Award by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Roy
was also the second runner-up for the Royal Academy of
Engineering Leaders in Innovation.
With the examples of the National Security Programme,
weeding robot and the smart glove, it is clear that Kenya has a
pool of talented and gifted young people. Where these
transformative innovations came from, there are many more.
All we need to do is look. And if our national attention moves
to the search for solutions, our natural energy will flow to a
Allow me to end my address today by recording two
Mashujaa lessons from our Founding Fathers to our young
people. And I am compelled to do this because, as one
statesman said: “…If it was not for the elders correcting the
mistakes of the young, there would be no state”. My intention
today is not to correct, but to point our young people in a
direction that will make them heroes in our times.
The first lesson from our liberation heroes is that: “…if it’s
got to be; it’s got to be me”. That is, if anything will happen, it
all depends on me. If change will happen, do not expect your
neighbours to be the ones to cause it. You are the one to do it.
Answer the summons of change and be the driver of it. And all
you need to do is to ‘show up’ at the arena.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “the man who matters is
not the one who stands by the wayside criticizing, saying how
things could have been done better. The man who matters is the
one in the arena. The man whose …face is marred by dust and
sweat and blood; the man who errs, and comes short again and
again… knowing that if he fails, at least he failed trying”.
My call to our young people, therefore, is to get off the
wayside of pessimism and get into the arena. If the young
veterans of war had not heeded the summons of change, we
would not be having independence today.
The second lesson to our young people from the liberation
heroes is this: be prepared to pay the price. And I am using the
word price to mean what you pay in exchange for something.
The price of our liberation was high, but there was no doubt
that our Founding Fathers were prepared to pay for it. Some of
them paid the price with their own lives. But what we got in
exchange is far greater than what we could imagine.
Borrowing from the young veterans of our liberation, my
appeal to our young people is not to be afraid of paying the
price. If you have a dream, pay the price and the dream will
come to you; if you have a challenge, pay the price and it will
And in saying this, I am inspired by the words of the Rev.
Frederick L. Donaldson, in a sermon he gave almost 100 years
ago. In this sermon, he dreaded an emerging culture of not
‘paying the price’. A culture characterized by “… wealth
without work; pleasure without conscience; knowledge without
character; commerce without morality; science without
humanity; worship without sacrifice and politics without
If, indeed, our Founding Fathers were young people when
they created Kenya, our young people can found a new Kenya in
our lifetime. They have what it takes to create a new wave of
heroism if they get on the arena, prepared to pay the price of
On my part as your President, I will continue to accord our
youth every opportunity to serve in the public service.
In the last crop of Chief Administrative Secretaries I
appointed; the vast majority of the appointees were in their 20s
and 30s, a continuation of my promise to the youth that my
Government will empower them and give them a greater voice.
I also take this opportunity to commend all the young people
that are serving their Nation at both the national and county
levels. Our national response to the coronavirus pandemic was
fortified by their immense contributions.
I thank our valiant critical and essential services providers for
keeping Kenya going.
I also thank our healthcare workers for their dedication and
selflessness in the midst of the greatest threat to public health in
a century; our law-enforcement officers who are keeping Kenya
safe and orderly.
What then is our lesson from our independence heroes this
Mashujaa Day? What our heroes taught us is that, it is very easy
to lose a country.
And as your 4th President, I need to remind you that, we will
have a 5th, 6th and even 10th President. But we have only one
Kenya. This is all we have and we must protect it at all cost.
I cannot conclude this address without honouring our
COVID-19 heroes. In particular, I want to give special mention
to our departed health workers such as; Dr. Doreen Lugaliki of
Nairobi South Hospital, Clifford Mburia of Kitengela Medical
Centre, Moses Ringera of the University of Nairobi Health
Services and Marian Awuor of Rachuonyo Hospital, among
others. Their memory will forever be engraved in our hearts.
These brave souls paid the ultimate price. And like our
Founding Fathers, they teach us that heroes are ordinary people
who are made extra-ordinary by unusual circumstances.
Similarly, and given the fear-ridden circumstances our COVID
heroes found themselves in, they teach us that heroism is not the
absence of fear; it is the conquest of fear.
On this day, we are all called to embrace the challenges of our
times with courage and fortitude, and to seize the constitutional
moment to redefine our future and our shared prosperity.
And in doing so, we will live to the call of our Founding
Fathers when they secured our independence.
GOD BLESS YOU ALL, GOD BLESS KENYA.