We become heroes by being our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers – President Kibaki

… all Kenyans should seek to be Mashujaa in their individual ways.  We become Mashujaa by abiding to 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. President Mwai Kibaki 20th October 2011

Fellow Kenyans,

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.

Fellow Kenyans,

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.

Fellow Kenyans,

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.

Fellow Kenyans,

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.

Fellow Kenyans,

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.

Kenyans Celebrate Heroes Day by Dramatizing the Life and Times of Wangari Maathai

Nation online 19th October 2012

Wangari Maathai’s memories will always inspire Kenyans to strive for that which is good for the Kenyan communities. Her legacy and that of many unsung women who have contributed to the building of peace and harmony in Kenya and to the development of Kenya cannot be over emphasized. Long live our heroines!

Mumbi Kaigwa is commemorating the life and passing on of Kenya’s most celebrated woman, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Prof Wangari Maathai.

She has assembled an outstanding cast of Kenyan actors and secured performing rights to a Pulitzer Prize-winning script about a brilliant woman whose life and death parallels Wangari’s in surprisingly similar ways.

Ms Kaigwa is also giving a chunk of the funds she hopes to raise from staging that play to the Nairobi Hospice, which is celebrating 20 years of assisting terminally ill patients.

Under her new theatre company, the Arts Canvas, Kaigwa and her troupe will stage Margaret Edson’s Wit from Tuesday to Sunday at Braeburn Theatre.

It is directed by Nyambura Wariungi, who worked in both film and theatre in Canada for more than a decade before returning home this year to make a movie and direct the Wit.

Wit features an amazing cast as well. It not only includes Kaigwa, who is celebrating 40 years of performing on stage, television and film this year, it also embraces a whole new crop of local film, theatre and TV talent, such as Dan Aceda, Samson Psenjen, Njoki Ngumi, Mugambi Nthiga, Fridah Muhindi, Sahil Gada, Wangui Thang’a and Musa Mwaruma.

Because Wit traces the life and death of Dr Vivian Bearing in dramatic detail, one might expect the play to be painfully depressing.

On the contrary, Wit is filled with ironic humour, sarcasm and self-awareness on Bearing’s part. Stunning is also an apt term for Kaigwa’s performance as the dying don who dramatically appraises the process of her passing almost to the very end.

Being a scholar and researcher with a literary flair (like Wangari), Bearing chooses to document the gruelling eight-month process of experimental treatment that she endures at the hands of medical researchers, students and specialists who claim to hold the cure to her ovarian cancer, but in the end she (and we) find out, they don’t.

Like Bearing, Wangari was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She also endured months of experimental treatment that eventually failed. Nonetheless, for both women, death is not the end of the story by any means. See the play to find out what I mean.

Self-discovery

One of the beautiful bits about Wit is the way John Donne’s poetry is interwoven into the script. Also inspirational is Bearing’s deep affection for language, one of the elements of the university professor’s life.

But what I found most striking about the show was the process of psychological self-discovery that seemed to parallel Bearing’s physical treatment for cancer. For while the chemotherapy wasn’t successful, the soulful insights that she gained in the process were transformative.

Bearing, like Wangari, had been uncompromising in her professional life. However, this is the point at which the two women’s lives differ. For Bearing had got so caught up in her own genius and in the genius of the 17th century poet John Donne, that she had forgotten about compassion and human kindness.

Her students had suffered as a consequence. It is only when she is awakened to her own need for comfort and kindness that she reflects on her cold-hearted treatment of everyone around her. The realisation, however painful the process, is liberating for her.

Wit is a must-see, especially as it touches on a topic that affected one who was and remains very dear to many Kenyans, the Nobel laureate, Prof Wangari Maathai.

Is Kenya Ready for an Openly Gay Politician?

Original Story from Daily Nation 18th September 2012, more stories here, read Mr. Kuria’s site here and see his interviews on capital talk here, here, here and here

 Mr. David Kuria has been on the forefront of fighting against poverty, increasing access to HIV services and for inclusion of the minority gay community in Kenyan mainstream.   Is there a chance that he could become the first openly gay man to become a politician in Kenya?
The first openly gay man to run for office is drawing attention to Kiambu County by running for the senate seat. Mr David Kuria recognises that his sexual orientation may be an extra challenge in the already competitive political sphere. “People may not see beyond the issue of sexual orientation and listen to my agenda” he admitted to the Nation.
He holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Nairobi. Going against the advice of many to marry, he hopes that voters will interpret his openness about his sexual orientation as honesty.
Mr Kuria hopes that the discrimination he has faced will allow him to better represent others in the society who are marginalised.
The 40-year-old has developed a campaign platform focusing on reforming laws and other structural barriers that prevent access to HIV services and fighting poverty.
Mr. Kuria has a five point agenda: 1. effective representation 2. Kiambu visibility 3. Health 4. Kuria foundation and 5. Second chances. Most of these points have been elaborated in his website above. Accordingly, Kuria proposes to apply the cluster approach to development where the periphery benefits from the trickle downs of the core; hence Kiambu’s nearness to Nairobi is a potential that needs to be exploited. According to Kuria, exploiting the current advantages well would move Kiambu beyond subsistence and enrich it.
The most unique contribution Mr. Kuria proposes to the county is that of second chances. Kuria realises that there are many people facing social exclusion because of poverty or other reasons. He proposes a model of inclusion through the social enterprise approaches and addressing the structural issues that contribute to exclusion. Hence he looks at development beyond the pure economic terms and includes the human psycho-social dimensions.
In this race Kuria faces veteran politicians with alot of experience and resources.

Nelson Mandela, his birthday is a great day to all the young generation

Huffingpost 18th July 2012

JOHANNESBURG — Nearly 12 million children across South Africa kicked off celebrations Wednesday for the 94th birthday of Nelson Mandela, the country’s deeply loved anti-apartheid icon, with resounding choruses of Happy Birthday.

Mandela is expected to spend the day privately with his family at their homestead in his southeastern birth village of Qunu. Meanwhile, communities in South Africa and around the world were dedicating 67 minutes of the day to volunteer work and projects for the needy – one minute to mark each of Mandela’s 67 years in public service.

Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after spending 27 years in prison for his fight against racist apartheid rule, and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

Tributes to Mandela poured in early Wednesday, with U.S. President Barack Obama saying Mandela “has changed the arc of history, transforming his country, the continent and the world.”

Ahmed Kathrada, one of Mandela’s oldest friends, said Madiba, as he is affectionately known by his Xhosa clan name, championed the dignity of all.

`’You can be rich but if you don’t have dignity you are a second-class citizen,” Kathrada said in a public lecture marking the birthday celebrations.

Tokyo Sexwale, a longtime ally in the governing African Nation Congress, described Mandela as a global statesman who inspired the world.

At one Johannesburg elementary school Wednesday, children watched a film documenting Mandela’s life and his years of service and sacrifice along with a photographic display of him meeting celebrities including Beyonce, Michael Jackson and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Nelson Mandela set an example to show us that reconciliation is possible,” said 10-year-old Thakgalo Ditabe. She said she wanted Mandela to know how much he meant to her.

Ntando Ntuli, 12, said with pride: “He is my hero because he fought for us. He is an icon, the king of Africa.”

In 2009, the United Nations established Nelson Mandela International Day to honor the African leader on his birthday through acts of community service.

In many districts, South Africa came to a virtual standstill early Wednesday as strangers greeted each other in the streets and even infants at one pre-school waved at passersby and sang: “We love you, Tata,” or `’great father,” a supreme term of endearment.

In the eastern port city of Durban Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of England’s Manchester United football team that is widely followed in Africa, sang Happy Birthday over a cake iced with the image of the team’s yellow and red badge.

Ferguson, who met Mandela on previous visits, said “his presence and personality exudes all around.”

Manchester United plays the first game of its South African tour later Wednesday.

South African churchmen and politicians urged people across the country “to make every day a Mandela Day.”

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton got the celebrations off to an early start Tuesday. He and daughter Chelsea met with Mandela in Qunu. Photographs tweeted by one of Mandela’s grandsons showed the Nobel Peace Prize winner comfortably seated in an armchair with a blanket over his knees and with the Clintons and his wife, Graca Machel, at his side.

Nobel laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said the greatest gift the nation could give Mandela on Wednesday would be “to emulate his magnanimity and grace.”

“Mr. Mandela taught us to love ourselves, to love one another and to love our country,” Tutu said.

Mandela’s activism helped bring democracy and freedom to the once white-ruled South Africa. But the country remains beset by tensions over continued white minority domination of the economy, massive unemployment, poor education and health services and the millions who remain homeless or in shacks

Tegla Loroupe Encourages Former Street Children

Story by Julius Mwangi

Tegla Loroupe (Second from right) the world renowned athlete and a peace advocate graced the Amka Album Launch organized by the children of Ndugu Mdogo Rehabilitation Center (NMRC) in Kibera. NMRC is rehabilitation center started by Koinonia Community. She gave a very important message of peace and encouragement to all the children in attendance.

Tegla Loroupe a record holding Kenyan world athlete and the founder and director of the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation graced the launch of the Amka Kenya album on Saturday 27th April 2012. The event was also graced by politicians, the government officers, schools and scores of organizations working with the children. The former Kenyan Gold Medalist Athlete had very special and encouraging words for the children. Loroupe holds the world records for 20, 25 and 30 kilometres and previously held the world marathon record. She is the three-time World Half-Marathon champion. She was the first African woman to win the New York City Marathon, which she has won twice. She has won marathons in London, Boston, Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Berlin, Rome and many of other cities.

She began by telling children that she was pleased and honored to listen to their powerful messages of peace. She also had a very important message for the former street children

“We should not let our bad past history hold us from the dream of becoming better citizens of this country.  We should not also let poverty or hardships hold us back from our determination to become better and also to better the society we live in. In some of  you children I see Kenya’s future president, I see doctors, professors, athletes, artists and business people. I see a successful Kenya of the future in you!”

She narrated to the children about her background which had so many setbacks. She however believed in the struggles and in the dreams she had for herself. The starting was never easy and nothing has ever been easy however believing in the hope of a better tomorrow makes all the heavy burdens lighter. In her speech she indicated that she had listened keenly to every message the children conveyed to the society through their poems, skits, songs, dances and mostly through their new Amka Kenya Album.

The Ndugu Mdogo children choir with their campaign Amka Kenya. This message conscientizes on civic responsibilities and the need t create a culture of peace and integration.

Peace is the only condition that could make Kenya be better developed than it is now. “It does not matter how rich or poor we are, if there is no peace then the prospects of development are nil. That is the beginning of human rights abuses. We have a duty to protect our country by working for peace!” She told the children that she had travelled across the world and has gone to Europe, America, Australia and so on and each and every time she visits those places she observes with wonder at all the developments they have made. Despite these observation, the concern that always strikes her mind is to find the answer to the question “why do we as Kenyans fight amongst ourselves; and why do we destroys the harmony of our own Nation?” As we move to the future, Tegla advised that the children should not allow to be poisoned to start despising people from other tribes and ethnic communities. “Well my children, ethnicity can be a great resource to promote social justice. Sometimes it has not been used well. As you grow up do not allow yourselves to become unjust to people who are not from your ethnic community. This injustice is the cause of violence. Try to find a way to always love the others just as you would your own father, mother, brother or sister. A Kenya full of loving and caring people is a healthy Kenya and as a result of this it will be blessed with development.”

Tegla had a strong message to the parents. She told them “Families have a responsibility to build peace at their homes, in their families and they should always love one another, to embrace each other. Those strong in the family have a responsibility to help the weak and the invalids.”  She recognized that families are passing through difficult moments because of economic hardships and the pressures of post modernism which have had the adverse effect on the traditional family structure. “Families should not allow to be defeated by these adversities. Every adversity has in it some seeds of equivalent advantage. Hence these adversities should not tear families apart but help them become more unified. This unity and working harder will make us be able to take care of our children. Hence they will get the best values first and foremost in the families.”

Turning back to children, Tegla reminded them again that they should arm themselves with love. She said, good leaders are those who forgive and forget and move on to create better solutions for the society. Africa is going to experience a transformation in the future if all children  focused on love instead of the despondency that has characterized the society today. Infact I am more optimistic of the future where you children will correct the wrongs made by we your parents.” She went ahead and urged the children not to accept to be used by people who have bad motives. They should refuse to be involved in either taking or peddling drugs and any other forms of activities that will end up ruining their lives. She also told the children to teach their parents, friends and teachers the meaning of love and peace. The children should carry around a message that Kenya is better of if peaceful. She then advised the children not to forget to build their talents. “The talents are a special gift God has given to each and everyone of us. It does not matter whether you are poor or rich, a street child or a child of the palace. We are all equal and we all have the ability to be what we want to be if we believe in ourselves. God will always do His part; hence  if one of you has an athletic talent, let him  run and run, and if anyone can play foot ball, then play it, and if you can sing then sing. Your talents have a unique message to the creation.” She finished by thanking Koinonia and all the organizations in front line of assisting and supporting the street children of Kenya be reintegrated back to the society.

Kenya Loses a Peace Crusader

More on this here and here

Mary Onyango fought cancer bravely for over 10 years. She did not allow the disease to pin her down but continued doing a lot to encourage the other women struggling with cancer and lately she had become a great advocate for peace and integration in the country.

Kenya lost the vice chairperson of of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) on 31st March 2011. Ms Mary Onyango was a crusader of ethnic unity and national integration. She succumbed to cancer  at the Agha Khan Hospital in Kisumu. Ms Onyango was first diagnosed with breast cancer in January 1999. She then helped in co-founding the Kenya Breast Health Program — a breast cancer advocacy and support organization — with the late Julia Mulaha. Her work of advocacy for the victims of breast cancer is unbelievable. With small means she helped as many women as possible to access cancer screening services. She invested most of her energy in this endeavor.

In his message, the President said the country has not only lost a peace crusader but also a dedicated public servant who worked tirelessly to reconcile Kenyans to ensure that peace prevails during and after the next General Elections. The prime minister said that Ms Onyango was a believer in peace and worked hard to ensure that the next elections are held in an atmosphere of peace and trust, a feat she believed would be achieved through the Kenya Kwanza Campaign.

In her last public duty Ms Onyango is reported to have said that Kenya as a country has been polarised by politicians who use tribes to advance their personal goals. She called to Kenyans to rise beyond ethnicity and the self inworking for peace in the country.

It is important to ensure that Ms. Onyango’s crusade should not go in vain. She has bequethed Kenya the NCIC charter a document that constrain the actions of politicians and forbids them to foment violence through their campaign actions and speeches. Violence throws people to vulnerability and could have adverse effect like exposing many people to slavery. The work of Mary will never go in vain.

Art: Wangari Maathai was a Symbol of Freedom

By Mike Mungai, Bwana Mdogo Arts

Follow Bwana Mdogo Arts and other artists against human trafficking by liking their facebook page. Artists sharing this passion too are welcome to join in.

Wangari Maathai will always be a symbol of freedom to the many generations of Kenyans. Ngugi Wa thiongo’s words on her bibliography can be paraphrased as  “She was extra ordinary,  mesmerizing, she refused  to be bowed down by oppression and humiliation  in the pursuit of the excellent and the heroic in society.” Wangari Maathai is a great daughter of nature… the symbol of freedom and she represents everything that is against the oppression of the weak in the society. Find the publications of Wangari Maathai here.

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