President Uhuru Kenyatta has called on political leaders to embrace national reconciliation and unity in honour of fallen second liberation hero Kenneth Matiba.
The President said he will also continue working with the former PM Raila Odinga to build political bridges that ensure Kenyans continue enjoying peace and unity devoid of hate, division and ethnicity.
He said this is the only way the country could honour the second liberation heroes, which Matiba is viewed as a key crusader.
President Kenyatta spoke on April 26, 2018, during the final memorial service for the departed hero of multiparty democracy at Ihura Stadium in Murang’a County in a ceremony attended by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Deputy President William Ruto among other leaders.
“This is the greatest honour we can give to Matiba. We must emulate the fallen hero by also being compassionate and considerate of others,” said President Kenyatta who described the late Matiba as a great patriot and nationalist.
He said the country cannot entrench democracy nor thrive without peace and unity.
On the Constitution, President Kenyatta said the ideals and changes that the late Matiba fought for were now entrenched and protected in the country’s supreme law.
President Kenyatta said some Kenyans were not happy with his recent “handshake” of unity with Mr Odinga because they thrive on chaos and commotion but unity is a key prerequisite for the country’s progress.
He said the new-found unity with Mr Odinga that started with the historic “handshake” had nothing to do with succession politics of 2022.
The President urged leaders to learn the art of sorting problems without insults, hate or shedding blood.
He said the sacrifices made by the heroes of the second liberation — time, energy and resources — were enough, and political leaders should now stop fighting.
The Head of State said the Government will also explore ways to honour past heroes including the late Matiba.
President Kenyatta emphasized that unity and peace will allow the country to concentrate on more important issues like health, security, infrastructure and the future of millions of jobless Kenyans.
“These are the things that are of major concern to us. Let’s concentrate on what is important to the people,” he said.
Mr Odinga said Kenya is a great nation and he is determined to work with President Kenyatta to bequeath the youth even a better country.
He said his recent efforts to reach out to President Kenyatta was not informed by the politics of 2022 but for the greater interests of the nation.
Odinga described the late Matiba as a great Kenyan businessman, sportsman and a generous philanthropist.
On his part, Ruto described the late Matiba as a patriot and nationalist who stepped out of his comfort zone and fought for multi-party democracy.
“When Kenneth Matiba stepped out of his comfort zone to fight for multi-party democracy, he did not do so for his village, his community or county. He did so for every Kenyan so that we can expand the democratic space that today makes us a multi-party democracy,” the Deputy President said.
The Deputy President emphasized that when the legacy of President Kenyatta is written, it will about the courage he had to unite the country.
“Your Excellency the President, when history is written, your legacy may not necessarily be about the Standard Gauge Railway, although that is a great achievement. It may not be the 6.7 million Kenyans who today enjoy electricity in their homes. Neither will it be about the 7 million Kenyans who today have NHIF cards in their homes, although that is also great. But your legacy will be the courage you had to assemble us and tell us that it is possible for us to unite,” the DP said.