The PM’s tribute, which included modern and unsung heroes, was contained in his address during #talk2raila live web TV session.
#TALK TO RAILA: LIVE STREAMING
DATE: Thursday 18 October 2012
TOPIC: Remembering Kenya’s Heroes and Heroines
Good morning and welcome to my live TV studio, once again. As we continue with this series of online dialogue, I would like us today to remember and celebrate our national heroes and heroines.
I sent out a message at the start of the week inviting you to reflect on our heroes and heroines because, as you are aware, we shall this Saturday mark the Second Heroes’ Day – Mashujaa Day. This national day replaced what we used to be Kenyatta Day.
From Kenyatta Day to Mashujaa Day Our new Constitution gives us three national days. These are Madaraka Day, Mashujaa Day and Jamuhuri.
We used to have Kenyatta Day. This had been named after the founding father and President of our Republic, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, to remind us of 20 October 1952, when Mzee Kenyatta was arrested by the colonial authorities. He was arrested together other nationalist leaders, for their role in the struggle to Independence and for the return of the stolen lands.
Over the years, we have therefore rightly honoured Mzee Kenyatta. To a lesser extent, we have also honoured other leaders who participated in the freedom struggle. But when we sat at the Bomas of Kenya to dialogue on the new Constitution, it was felt that emphasis on Mzee and a few political leaders tended to ignore or downplay the role of other Kenyan heroes.
Kenya has produced many heroes, outside the area of political leadership and government. It is important that we remember and celebrate such leaders, too. These are our
Our Unsung Heroes and Heroines
In sports, for example, Kenya has produced global champions. These are world-beaters. We are also respected allover the world for our champions in environmental conservation. Kenyans have also bagged top awards in research, science and technology.
We are respected in literature, in visual arts and in performing arts. We are a continental powerhouse in education and indeed in academia and scholarship. Our champions in the disciplined forces have seen our country contribute soldiers, as well as policemen and policewomen to peacekeeping missions allover the world.
With our Heroes Day only two days away, I naturally want us to reflect in a special way on the heroes of our freedom. However, I wish to begin by celebrating our less sung heroes and heroines.
Our teachers and other professionals, our farmers, factory workers and other industrious people out there are some of our unsung heroes.
Every Kenyan who labours hard for his or her upkeep and contributes to the national tax kitty is a hero. As you know, we live in times when people want to get rich quickly.
While there are those who want to strike a crooked deal so as to become rich overnight, many work for an honest income. Besides, they pay taxes on these earnings. These are our true heroes and heroines.
Our soldiers are just now out there in Somalia, after a full year of national duty, under the OPERATION LINDA NCHI mission. These patriots who have put their lives on the line so that we may be safe are true national heroes. I want to remember them and their families in a very special way, ahead of this year’s Mashujaa Day.
We remember the families of our soldiers who have fallen in the line of duty. May God console you in your loss and give you the strength to soldier on in life. Please take solace in the knowledge that your loved ones gave their lives for their country. They are the true heroes we shall celebrate on Saturday. We will treasure them in our hearts and memory. May their souls rest in eternal peace.
Some Outstanding Individuals
It is not always easy to single out individuals for special mention when many have done so much for our country. I however still wish to recognize a few persons who have placed us on the global map for their outstanding contribution to humanity; for Kenyans are truly innovative and hardworking. It is the leaders who have often let them down.
WANGARI MATHAI: A few days ago, we marked the first anniversary of the passing on of Prof. Wangari Maathai. She was a gallant soldier for truth, justice and good governance. She had an unparalleled passion for the environment. She was a rare champion who brought honour and glory to our nation, even when we mistreated her and hurt her both physically and psychologically.
MIRIAM WERE: Here is another woman who has done Kenya proud. She has made outstanding contribution to chemistry, biology and to medicine. She has been an
inspiration in the fight against HIV and Aids on the global circuit.
NGUGI WA THIONGO leads a whole team of writers who have placed Kenya on the global map of creative writing and ideas. Others are people like Meja Mwangi, Mwangi Ruheni, Mama Grace Ogot, Francis Imbuga, Kimani wa Njogu and many others.
We have had scholars like the late Prof. Simeon Ominde, Prof. Bethwell Alan Ogot, the late Prof. T. R. Odhiambo, the late Prof. Atieno Odhiambo, Prof. Godfrey Muriuki, the late Prof. Gideon Saulo Were, Prof. Ali Mazrui, Prof. Calestous Juma, all who have placed Kenya firmly on the international map of scholarship.
Wilson Kiprugut brought us the first medal from the Tokyo Olympics in 1964; Naphtali Temu, Kipchoge Keino and Amos Biwott brought gold medals from Mexico in 1968. In that year, Daniel Rudisha (father to David Rudisha), Munyoro Nyamau, Naphtali Temu and Charles Asati brought Kenya silver in the men’s 4 by 400 metres relay. In 1972, Asati and Nyamau were joined by Robert Ouko and Julius Sang, to bring home gold in the men’s 4 by 400 metres relay in Munich.
KIP KEINO has remained faithful to athletics from the 1960s and ‘70s when he was an international star; other stars of that age were boxers like Philip Waruinge, Samuel Mburu, Dick Tiger Murunga. Then we have the present day heroes and heroines – Ezekiel Kemboi, David Rudisha, Pamela Jelimo, Janeth Jepkosgey, Vivian Cheruiyot and many others.
I was recently privileged to be at the London Olympics, on the day that our David Rudisha won the gold medal in the 800 metres race. David broke the world record in this race. This was also the only record broken in athletics at the Olympics this year. David, we are truly proud of you. You are a wonderful role model to younger Kenyans.
Other sportspeople are former football stars like Joe Kadenge, Livingston Madegwa, Chege Ouma, John Bobby Ogolla, Dr. JJ Masiga, Mahmoud Abbas, Jonathan Niva, from the earlier generations and Victor Mugubi, Dennis Oliech, Macdonald Mariga in the present day. Our leading national teams have previously done us proud in football, volleyball, rugby and in other sports. These people are our champions and ambassadors.
I have mentioned Prof. Wangari Maathai. But we also have people who work in our game parks and animal reserves. Some of these people put their lives at great risk. They grapple with poachers and with other dangers, to protect our wildlife. They are our true champions and heroes.
We recall Michael Werikhe, who walked 500 kilometres in 1982, to create awareness on the need to save the rhino. There are many others I know that there are very many other national heroes. But I mention the few whom I have recognized by name or vocation, just to show that to be a national hero, you do not have to be in politics.
We have our nurses and other people in medicare; there are philanthropists who look after destitutes and homeless children; We have people who take care of the aged; We have caring police officers; We have night guards who place their lives at risk to protect life and property; There are many Kenyans of goodwill – caring drivers on our roads, writers and artists, many people who are rarely mentioned.
Heroes in the Liberation Struggle
Right from the 1920s, Kenyans have fought for a free fair and just society. We cannot get tired of saying that the Kenyan dream is best expressed in our national anthem. We want to be a society in which justice is every citizen’s shield and defender; a country in which people dwell in unity, peace and liberty. We want everybody to have an honest source of income so that the fruit of our labour can fill everyone with true thanks giving to God and to the rest of our society.
Early Heroes & Heroines
People like Waiyaki wa Hinga, Muthoni Nyanjiru, Joseph Kangethe, Harry Thuku, James Beuttah and Jesse Kariuki are among our early heroes in the strugle for liberation. Between 1926 and 1945, they fought for land rights and for equal rights.
A lot of our heroes of freedom and independence have continued to be steadily forgotten. They include people like Ambrose Ofafa, Walter Mbotela, Makham Singh, Alibhai Mullah Jevanjee, Samuel Muindi Mbingu, Manillal Desai, among others. These people set the pace for the liberation struggle.
Then we have the freedom fighters who eventually brought independence. There was of course Mzee Kenyatta and the Lancaster House Generation. These are people we remember for bringing home the
Constitution and therefore independence.
Apart from Mzee Kenyatta, other heroes were people like the late Achieng Oneko, Kungu Karumba, Fred Kubai, Bildad Kagia and Paul Ngei and Mzee Gitu Kahengeri who is with us. There were heroes like Dedan Kimathi, James Mathenge, and other heroes of freedom.
Unfortunately some of these heroes turned their faces against the just society that Kenya had fought for. That was why Jaramogi Oginga Odinga wrote the book NOT YET UHURU. Nonetheless we remember today Tom Mboya, James Gichuru, Mzee Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, Jean Marie Seroney, Martin Shikuku, Mzee John Keen, Justus Ole Tipis, Masinde Muliro, Ronald Ngala and a whole generation that will go down in our history as the Lancaster House Generation. The work they started is far from being realized.
As I have said, this is largely because some of them only seemed to have been after the privileges that the colonialists enjoyed. When independence came they, therefore, became Kenya’s new problem. That is why we talk of several phases in the liberation struggle. After struggling against the colonialists, we have had to struggle against some of our own brothers and sisters, who have not cherished a just, free and fair society. It has been a tough struggle in which we have lost some of our heroes through political assassinations. For example:
PIO DA GAMA PINTO: Pio da Gama Pinto was a passionate nationalist and freedom fighter. The colonial government detained him for his nationalist activities. When independence came, he saw quite early on that the country was going in the wrong direction. He lost faith in the new Government soon after independence. He started working for a better united and free Kenya. For this, he was assassinated outside his house in Nairobi on the morning of 24 February 1965. We had not even been independent for two years.
CLEMENT ARGWINGS KHODEK: Kodhek died on 29 January, 1969 along Nairobi’s Hurlingham Road (now Argwings Khodek Road). The circumstances of his death suggested that it was political. He was punished for refusing to replace Jaramogi as Vice President.
TOM MBOYA : After working very hard for forces that did not wish to see Kenya move ahead, Mboya fell out with the same forces. On 5 July, 1969, hardly six months after the elimination of Kodhek, Tom Mboya was assassinated in Nairobi.
RONALD GIDEON NGALA: Ronald Ngala was the leader of the Official Opposition Party Kadu at Independence. He led Kadu in crossing the floor in 1965. In 1972, he died in suspicious circumstances, in the Kenyatta succession struggles.
JOSIAH MWANGI KARIUKI (JM): JM Kariuki was the foremost voice for a just, free and fair society, between 1969 and 1975. Very few could stand up to the unfeeling government that Kenya had at this time. He was brutally killed on 02 March for championing the rights of the poor. His body was left in Ngong forest for hyenas to eat.
TITUS ADUNGOSI: Titus Adungosi was a brave student leader at the University of Nairobi in the 1980s. He was arrested following the disturbances of 1982. I was with him at Muthangari Police Station and later at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison. Titus was badly beaten up by the Kenya Police. He kept vomiting blood. He eventually succumbed to the effect of the beating and died in prison. Young Titus
died because of fighting for a better Kenya.
ROBERT OUKO: Dr. Ouko worked closely with the Kanu government, in which he was an insider. When he fell out with the centre, he was killed in February 1990.
BISHOP ALEXANDER KIPSANG MUGE: Biship Muge died in a suscpicious road accident on 14 August 1990, after a senior member of the government told him that he would die that day, if he visited Busia town to fight for Kenyans’ rights. Muge went to Busia and died as he had been promised he would die.
MASINDE MULIRO : On 4 August, 1992, a key member of the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD) party, Masinde Muliro, collapsed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after returning from a trip to London. He died shortly after. An official post-mortem examination was never conducted. His death gave the ruling party greater influence in western Kenya.
FR. JOHN ANTHONY KAISER: In 2002 a Roman Catholic priest, John Anthony Kaiser, was found dead in Morendat, Rift Valley. Fr. Kaiser was shot in the back of the head with a shotgun. He was fighting for the rights of the girl child.
CRISPIN ODHIAMBO MBAI: In September 2003, a Constitution of Kenya Review Commission delegate, Dr Crispin Mbai, was killed in his Woodley home in Nairobi. He had resisted attempts by people to dilute the chapter of devolution in the new Constitution that Kenyans were making.
MELITUS WERE MUGABE: At the start of 2008, a disturbing pattern began to emerge after the fractious 2007 elections. Two ODM MPs were killed just months after their election to pave way for byelections.
Melitus Mugabe Were was the first to be killed in February 2008.
DAVID KIMUTAI: The same month, February 2008, another lawmaker, David Kimutai of ODM, was killed in Eldoret. Government officials were quick to say this killing was connected to an illicit love triangle.
OSCAR KAMAU KINGARA AND JOHN PAUL OULO: These two Kenyan human rights activists were assassinated on a busy Nairobi street.
Then we have heroes who have been detained for our freedom.
JARAMOGI OGINGA ODINGA: Jaramogi was arrested in 1969 and detained for two years for advocating for a just free and fair society.
ELIJAH MASINDE WA NAMEME: Masinde was first detained in 1961 for fighting colonialism. He was released after 15 years. The independence government returned him to prison for asking for a better country.
JOSEPH MARTIN SHIKUKU OYONDI: Martin Shikuku was detained from 1975 to 1978, for being vocal against bad governance. His detention was also a form of punishment for speaking out against the
assassination of JM Kariuki.
JEAN-MARIE SERONEY: Seroney was detained with Shikuku for supporting Shikuku’s statement in Parliament that Kanu was dead. The real reason was to silence him for speaking out
NGUGI WA THIONG’O: Ngugi wa Thiong’o was detained for speaking for the ordinary through his writings and his plays. Even after he was freed, he was denied a job. He had to go into exile,
uprooted from the country and people he loves so much.
GEORGE ANYONA: George Anyona was detained from 1977 to 1978 for being vocal in Parliament. He was again detained 1982 for attempting to form a political party with Jaramogi. He was again arrested while enjoying a social moment with his friends Njeru Gathangu and Edward Oyugi. They were falsely charged with treason and put away. Their sin was that they were found discussing the merits of multiparty democracy.
RAILA AMOLO ODINGA: Even though there was no evidence to link me to the 1982 coup attempt against the Kanu government, I was arrested and charged with treason. The charges were later dropped. But I was then detained for close to six years, without trial. The same year, 1988, I was detained for another year, for asking for a free and fair society. I was released in 1989 but arrested again on 5 July 1990, together with former Cabinet ministers Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia and their lawyer John Khaminwa. I was forced to flee the country after my release on 21 June 1991, after I learnt of
a sinister plot against me.
KENNETH MATIBA AND CHARLES RUBIA: Matiba was detained without trial, in 1990, together with Charles Rubia. They were jailed for their repeated calls for the restoration of multi-party democracy. While in prison, Matiba suffered a massive stroke. Life has never been the same for him and his family again. Charles
Rubia was also maimed and suffered poor health, which he has not recovered from, to date.
KOIGI WAMWERE: Koigi Wamwere has been detained twice without trial, by both Presidents Kenyatta and Moi. He later fled into exile, to escape unending persecution.
OTIENO MAK' ONYANGO: Otieno Mak' Onyango was unlawfully detained for five years after the abortive coup of 1982.
JOHN KHAMINWA: Lawyer John Khaminwa was detained without trial when he sought to have access to his clients. Following Khaminwa's arrest, two other prominent lawyers, Paul Muite and Gibson Kamau Kuria, went into hiding, fearing detention or even, they said, extra-judicial execution.
ALMIN MAZRUI: Playwright and scholar Alamin Mazrui was among scholars who were detained because of their conscience. In this, he rode in the same boat with Kamoji Wachira, Katama Mkangi, Shadrack Gutto, Kimani Gecau, Micere Mugo, Ngugi wa Mirii, Oki Ooko Ombaka and a wide raft of University of Nairobi Students.
OTHER POLITICAL PRISIONERS: From 29 July 1982 Willy Mutunga was held for about two months after the Government said "seditious” leaflets were found in his house. Mukaru Ng’ang’a, and Maina wa Kinyatti were detained for allegedly being in possession of seditious material. There were many other political prisoners held under trumped up charges. Gitobu Imanyara, Mirugi Kariuki,
Ibrahim Mohammed, Gacheche wa Miano, Wanyiri Kihoro, Wafula Buke, Njeru Kathangu, Abuya Abuya, and Maina wa Kinyatti, Onyango Paddy among others.
CONCLUSION: Kenya has the potential to be the best place to live in the world. However, we have four key enemies we must overcome. Three of these are poverty, ignorance and
disease. But the fourth enemy is even more lethal. This is bad governance. Bad governance has stalled the potential of our heroes and heroines to fully bring out the best in them.
We must overcome bad governance.
Today, I salute those who have defied the odds to bring our country on the global map in their fields, despite the odds. I also salute those who have suffered or even died
so that we can be a better country. I wish you a happy
Heroes’ Day – A Happy Mashujaa Day.
Raila Amolo Odinga