September 10, 2012
NAIROBI, KENYA – Yesterday, Kenyans marked the country’s first ever Mashujaa Day, or Heroes Day, to honor the men and women who have contributed to the nation’s struggle for independence and national progress.
The celebration, formally known as Kenyatta Day after Kenya’s founding president, was the country’s first national celebration after the promulgation of the new Constitution in August.
President Mwai Kibaki presided over the celebration that honored Kenya’s soldiers, innovators, agriculturists and many others who have played a role in Kenya’s social and economic progress.
In his speech, Kibaki recognized those who fought for the nation’s independence in 1952 saying, “I salute our early Mashujaa (heroes) who resisted colonization.”
Kibaki also honored the post-independence heroes and soldiers who have served Kenya since 1952, attributing much of the country’s social and economic progress to the armed forces.
“Our present day Mashujaa are those who, through hard work and perseverance, are creating agricultural, industrial and service enterprises that have created jobs and increased incomes for Kenyans,” Kibaki said to the crowd in Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi.
Scholars including scientist Thomas Odhiambo, local historian Bethuel Ogot, political scientist Ali Mazrui, author Ngugi wa Thiong’o, public health specialist Miriam Were and Nobel laureate and environmentalist Wangari Maathai were all included in the naming of modern day heroes.
Many Kenyans say they are pleased to be celebrating this new holiday.
Paul Kamau, who was selling water and snacks at Nyayo Stadium during the celebration, says, “The Kenyan Mashujaa Day does not only mean recognizing contributions of fallen heroes and heroines, it also means recognizing the work being done in the current dispensation because the struggle is not yet over.”