25. Uhuru’s Inauguration Address

March 16, 2013

It is the day after Uhuru Kenyatta took the oath of office as the Fourth President of the Republic of Kenya. There is excited talk about what many say was a stirring inauguration address. The media is ablaze with effusive comments. Some have headlined it “Kenyatta 2.0”. Others are calling it “Digital Jomo.” Here below is the entire speech.

“To the great people of our beloved country of Kenya, as I stand here before you, I know that only slightly more than half of the 12.3 million citizens who voted, cast votes for me; nearly half – more than 6 million – voted for the other candidates.

To those who did not vote for me I say to you, sincerely, I respect your decision. I want you to know that I will work hard to earn your trust and support. And I pledge to do so not by word but by deed.

To the millions who voted for me, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have high expectations of me. With your support and the support of all Kenyans, I will work hard every day and every hour of my term to meet and even your expectations.

During the campaigns, I travelled the length and breadth of our country – from Moyale to Malindi; from Lamu to Lodwar; from Migori to Mandera; from Homa Bay to Manda Bay, and many places in between. Everywhere I went, I saw hope in the faces of Kenyans. I saw a desire for justice and equality, a desire and determination to live a secure, decent and dignified life. I saw something else: a fervent desire, indeed a prayer, for our country to end division and discrimination by tribe; a desire to treat each other as equal Kenyans, and a desire to end the cancer of corruption.

We are one nation with one destiny. From the Ameru to the Yaku, we are all Kenyan communities regardless of origin or ancestry– equal before the law and before God. No one community or group of communities – not even the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin – has the right to be the sole provider of Presidents! Every community can and has a right to lead this country. History and circumstance have created this moment for us. Let us seize it.

Fifty years ago, our country started with a vow to conquer three enemies: poverty, ignorance, and disease. Fifty years later, we still affirm that vow. The names may appear different, and the list may have grown longer, but the enemies remain the same: corruption, poor leadership, ethnic discrimination, unemployment and insecurity.

Fifty years ago, our fathers and forefathers lit the torch of liberation, banished the darkness of colonial bondage and set our country on journey of self-actualisation. Today, fifty years later, in this year of Jubilee, the torch has been handed over to a new generation. We, the offspring of the independence generation, accept the solemn duty of lighting a brighter path for today’s and tomorrow’s generations.

I believe in you the great people of Kenya. I believe in your resilience and determination. I believe in your energy and creativity. Through you, I see a brighter future for our country. I see abundant and shared prosperity within our borders. I see a strong and confident Kenya held in high esteem among the community of nations. I see a strong, vibrant yet peaceful and secure country. Let us then join hands to make this vision a reality. Join me in this noble journey. I am your servant. Do not hesitate to correct me when I stray.

To the international community I say to you, Kenyans value your friendship and partnership. We value your support. We assure you of our commitment to strengthen mutually respectful and beneficial relationships. We will abide by all international treaties to which we are signatories and commit to fulfil related obligations as guided by our constitution.

To those who wish us harm, or who by their actions seek to undermine our inalienable right as free human beings in an independent country, we have a simple message: Kenya will sacrifice all and everything in defence of its sovereignty.

To our regional neighbours, we give our assurance to you that Kenya will do its best to realise common goals within the framework of cooperation treaties that we have signed. We will continue to give our strong support to the goals and objectives of, among others, the East African Community, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and the African Union.

Finally, fellow Kenyans, this is not a time to celebrate; it is a time to get to work. It is a time for all Kenyans wherever they are to rededicate themselves to nation-building.

Let us then, together, with one accord, in common bond united, build this our nation together, in our traditional spirit of Harambee!

Thank you. May God Bless you and our country, Kenya.”

The writer, who is based in Arusha, Tanzania, comments on topical issues.

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