WHO IS A SHUJAA?

Cheers to selfless, diligent mashujaa

A shujaa is a person who goes out of their way to achieve excellence in their pursuits.

In Summary
  • The problem with Kenya, however, is that we have persons who have engaged in despicable acts at a personal level but have received state recognition.
  • The likes of Eliud Kipchoge are the real heroes that Kenyans should celebrate.

On Sunday, October 20, Kenya will celebrate her 55th Mashujaa Day. Before the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, the day was marked as Kenyatta Day. On this day Kenya pays tribute to its heroes and heroines who have done great service to the nation.

Foremost, the nation remembers its sons and daughters who dedicated and sacrificed their lives to liberate our country from the shackles of colonialism and white man rule. Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Dedan Kimathi, Ronald Ngala, Tom Mboya, Mekatilili wa Menza are just but a few who fought for Independence.

Mashujaa Day also commemorates post-Independence heroes and heroines who stood firm in their quest for a just Kenya. These include gallant men and women such as Pio Gama Pinto, Prof Wangari Maathai, JM Kariuki, Prof Ali Mazrui and Robert Ouko. In recent times, Kenyans have further celebrated champions and victors who have excelled in their various fields, including sports, science, humanities, law and gender rights, amongst others.

Kenyans have been encouraged to individually identify their own mashujaa who have made a difference in their lives and helped them overcome life’s challenges.

Who is a shujaa? A shujaa is a person who goes out of their way to achieve excellence in their pursuits. It’s a person who dedicates their time and energy to make a difference in the lives of others and improve the living conditions of their communities.

A shujaa can also be a person who conquers their profession and achieves extraordinary fete that was considered impossible. Considering that success is relative and varies from one person to another, it goes without saying that different people will have different individuals who they consider heroes and heroines.

A good example is when Denis Itumbi suggested that marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge be fitted with a presidential award. Kenyans reacted angrily at the suggestion that such a great achiever could be associated with githeri man, who was surprisingly awarded for being photographed just standing in line with a polythene bag full of githeri!

There are also those that are indeed not shujaas. To start with we have public officers who steal and plunder public resources. They unjustly take away taxpayers’ money and use it for personal gain. The majority of these are politicians and public officers holding high positions in government. They have no regard for the nation’s prosperity and only think of their stomachs. Individuals who commit criminal acts and engage in violence within their communities and in private spaces cannot be considered as shujaas.

The problem with Kenya, however, is that we have persons who have engaged in despicable acts of commission and omission at a personal level but have received state recognition as shujaas. This erodes the value of being honoured by the state as real heroes and heroines do not want to be associated with and included in the same list as undeserving individuals.

A good example is when Denis Itumbi suggested that marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge be fitted with a presidential award. Kenyans reacted angrily at the suggestion that such a great achiever could be associated with githeri man, who was surprisingly awarded for being photographed just standing in line with a polythene bag full of githeri!

The likes of Eliud Kipchoge are the real heroes that Kenyans should celebrate. He has brought fame and honour to our nation and elevated the status of the country in history books.

 

Kenyans will also recognise individuals such as Peter Tabichi who emerged the overall winner of the Global Teacher Prize. Mariam and Amanda, who lost their lives at the Likoni channel, are heroines. Their tragic deaths shed light on the sorry state of the Kenya Ferry Services. Their deaths shall not be in vain. Abbas Guleid of Kenya Red Cross, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and Yash Pal Ghai of Katiba Institute are others who deserve the status of national heroes and heroines.

We must also remember in government there are individuals who are dedicated to public service and do their best to deliver. Persons like Muktar Ogle and Rev Samuel Kobia of the Office of the President are two such people who have dedicated their lives to bringing peace between communities. Mashujaa Day is about individuals who are selfless and work hard every day to achieve greatness in their own small way.

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