MASHUJAA DAY

Who’s your shujaa? Are you one?

What happened to our sense of nationhood, where we put our nation before ourselves?

In Summary
  • When our forebears fought for independence, they were united—patriots all focused on one goal.
  • But look at us now. We are quick to put on our tribal lenses and focus on the worst in each other.

Mahatma Gandhi was one time boarding a train when one of his shoes slipped off and got stuck on the track. He tried to pull it out with little success. So he took off the other shoe and threw it on the track.

His fellow passengers, astonished, asked why he did that, to which Gandhi replied, “The poor man who finds the shoe lying on the track will now have a pair he can use.”

Today, we celebrate Mashujaa Day. A day when we take time to honour Kenyans who contributed towards the struggle for our great nation’s independence. It is a day when we celebrate those who made sacrifices for the freedom we enjoy today.

 

Growing up, Mashujaa Day was spent watching documentaries about our nation’s birth, the Mau Mau, Kapenguria Six, etc, on KBC. Our forebears fought for us to have the right and privilege to be free, govern ourselves and transform our nation so that future generations may also enjoy the fruits of our labour.

Jomo Kenyatta, Bildad Kaggia, Kung’u Karumba, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei and Achieng’ Oneko put the nation before their own interests. They suffered for it as they were arrested and jailed in Kapenguria in 1952.

As we mark this day, I would ask – who is your Shujaa? What has this person done to deserve such commendation and admiration?

I have many shujaas. We have our doctors, nurses and all medical staff who have been on the frontline fighting Covid-19. They have sacrificed their lives to see us through this unsettling period in our history.

Many other Kenyans from various walks of lives have come together to keep the nation going. Many have sacrificed to feed and clothe others; they are all real shujaas. But it is not all rosy, as we would wish it to be. As we celebrate these heroic deeds, we must also reflect on the modern Kenya and ask ourselves if we can produce more shujaas.

When our forebears fought for independence, they were united—patriotic Kenyans all focused on one goal. But look at us now. We are quick to put on our tribal lenses and focus on the worst in each other.

What happened to our sense of nationhood, where we put our nation before ourselves? Are you someone else’s hero and is your neighbour your hero?

 

When our forebears retreated to forests to fight the colonialists, they were united against a common enemy.

As we remember the Independence heroes as well as the Second Liberation shujaas who fought to make our country a democracy, we must ask ourselves very critical questions.

Are we as selfless as those shujaas were or are we quick to retreat to our tribal comfort zones for selfish interests? Are we working hard to ensure that our nation remains united or are we the ones pushing divisive messages online and offline?

We must resolve to become modern-day freedom fighters. We may not be facing a common enemy in the form of colonialists, but we are definitely faced with the same challenges as Kenyans.

Modern-day Kenya needs to be freed from hunger, poverty, unemployment, disease, corruption, poaching, substance abuse, insecurity and nepotism, to name but a few.

Each one of us can be a shujaa by playing a role to deal with the challenges facing modern-day Kenya. Kenya needs shujaas who will help tackle selfishness and extend a helping hand to fellow Kenyans.