Speech By His Excellency Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, C.G.H President of the Republic of Kenya and Commander-In-Chief of the Defence Forces

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



Happy Mashujaa Day.

Let me first and foremost thank you, the Abagusii, for your

warm reception.

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

Zachary Onyonka.

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.

Fellow Kenyans,

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.

Fellow Kenyans,

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

constitutional consensus.

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

nationhood continued.

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

constitutional settlement.

Fellow Kenyans,

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


Fellow Kenyans,

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

Fathers did.

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.

Fellow Kenyans,

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

elder statesmen?

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

Japheth Shamalla?

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

of things’.

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

Industrial Project.

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

positive place.

Fellow Kenyans,

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

resolve itself.

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.

Fellow Kenyans,

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.



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