Uhuru urges integrity, justice and unity at fete

The President rallied Kenyans behind the principles of governanceenshrined in the 2010 Constitution.

In Summary

• Uhuru said the handshake is one of the rare acts of heroism and patriotism that cannot be ignored in post-Independence Kenya.

• The President Uhuru urged Kenyans to make themselves modern icons by being good Samaritans

It was a rare, seldom witnessed Mashujaa Day performance — one without politics.

President Uhuru Kenyatta used this year's Mashujaa Day to rally Kenyans against dishonesty, passionately advocating integrity. He urged Kenyans to be heroes "in every action and in every word".

Borrowing heavily from Chapter 10 of the Constitution on National Values, the President said Kenya's contemporary heroes are those who shun greed, personal comfort and advancement for the sake of the country’s greater good.

In a departure from the past where politics — and sometimes ugly implications — have overshadowed national celebrations, the President emphasised the need for patriotism, integrity, unity, social justice and hard-work among Kenyans.

“Yes, one can do well and prosper, but if one does not use their blessings, privilege and opportunities to make Kenya a better place, then that is a life that is far removed from the true meaning of ushujaa," the President said as Kenya marked Mashujaa Day at Mama Ngina Water Front Park in Mombasa.

The Constitution's chapter on National Values and Governance is one section that legal experts say, and everyone can see, has been violated egregiously as graft and ethnicity rock the civil service.

In a first during his seven-year administration,  Uhuru rallied Kenyans to stop being innocent by-standers and instead “think, move and speak boldly.”

In his first term and as he faced an ICC trial, Uhuru’s Jubilee administration ruthlessly clamped down on civil society.

“A Shujaa is not an innocent bystander, non-committal and uninvolved; instead they think, move and speak boldly,” Uhuru told Kenyans.

He went on, “Be a Shujaa by going out into your local community and finding ways in which you can make a difference, no matter how small it may seem to you. Galvanise your neighbours, form local community action groups, build a better Kenya from the ground.”

The generally peaceful political climate brought about by the Handshakeappeared to give the President the calm he badly needed to preach national values and governance ethos.

Yesterday, Uhuru termed his handshake with Opposition chief Raila Odinga on March 9, 2018, one of the rare acts of heroism and patriotism that cannot be ignored in post-Independence Kenya.

The President said the historic handshake that reduced political temperatures heightened by the disputed 2017 twin presidential polls should inspire all Kenyans.

The heroism, patriotism and the love of country exhibited by our Independence-era leadership persist to this very day, as embodied in the historic Handshake through which political divides were bridged, for the sake of peace and a better Kenya,” Uhuru said.

The handshake truce saw President Uhuru and his new soulmate Raila close political ranks that ended the political standoff which followed the contentious presidential elections.

Naturally, new strife has erupted within Jubilee and Nasa coalition partners are anything but close.

The President said positive contributions towards post-Independence Kenya do not necessarily require grand acts of heroism akin to those of the Founding Fathers and Mothers of the nation.

“To be a Shujaa is to be committed to going above and beyond your call of duty, whatever your station in life, in order to make Kenya a better place for all,” the President said.

Coming at a time when tax evasion cases are piling up in court, Uhuru said true heroes pay “their full share of taxes, promptly, diligently, and not under coercion.

“A Shujaa refuses to give or receive a bribe and reports all those who do so,” he stated.

The President hailed the country's justice system terming as heroes, judges and magistrates, “who faithfully and expeditiously discharge their oath of office without cowering in the face of the power and ill-gotten wealth of corruption suspects.”

The President's remark was seen as thumbs-up for the Judiciary's supportive role in his ongoing graft purge that has seen dozens of high-flying state officials charged in court.

At the same breath, the President moved to equally praise the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations for their role in tackling corruption and social ills.

He said Mashujaa are “investigators and prosecutors who brave intimidation and reject inducements, so as to bring the corrupt and other criminals to face justice.”

Mashujaa do not cheat or succumb to compromise, a shujaa does not pick soft but wrong options, the President said.

The President spoke to the media and for the first time commended its role in not only shaping national discourse but also being the public's watchdog by reporting on the ills of those in power.

On behalf of a grateful Nation, I honour and commend all the journalists who play their proper role as the Fourth Estate, reporting fearlessly by speaking truth to power, while rejecting brown-envelope journalism and the allure of sensationalism,” Uhuru said.

The President has previously had not-so-kind words for the Fourth Estate and at one time derided newspapers as meant for mere "wrapping of meat".

In a radical shift from the past where the President has capitalised on national fetes to outline achievements of his administration, Uhuru yesterday only mentioned a few. 

During the celebrations, the President honoured marathoner Eliud Kipchoge with the Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart (EGH) for his outstanding performance. 

This is the second-highest honour in Kenya after the Chief of the Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya (CGH), with reports indicating it has been bestowed on 198 people since the country’s self-rule 56 years ago.

I wish to invite and recognise Eliud Kipchoge with the Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart,” President Kenyatta said.

“Eliud has proved that everything is possible by becoming the first human being to complete a marathon in under two hours,” President Kenyatta said in his speech.

The President paid glowing tribute to professionals in various disciplines, singling out Peter Tabichi who was honoured recently as the best teacher.