REMARKS OF H.E. RAILA ODINGA AT THE SECOND GRADUATION CEREMONY, MURANGA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY
;Let me begin by saying congratulations to the young men and women who have graduated today.
This is both an end and a beginning for you as you mark the end of your studies in this institution and begin your journey to the dream of your life.
This day has been intertwined with the celebration of one of our modern day heros, Hon. Charles Rubia.
I am honoured to witness the conferment of this honour on this man of many firsts, courage and solid achievements.
On this occasion, I am reminded of the timeless words of President Theodore Roosevelt way back in April 1899:
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
Hon Rubia fits the bill of our citizens who dared mighty things, won glorious triumphs, lost some battles and won some, all for the good of our nation.
All his life, he refused to join the club of people who never sacrificed, never suffered and never learnt.
As the first African mayor of Nairobi from 1962 to 1967, Rubia had the daunting task of turning Nairobi into a modern African city and rid it of its segregated life that put Africans at the bottom, followed by Asians and topped by whites. He made it happen.
As Kenya’s representative on the Africanization Commission of the East African Common Services Organization and as a Director representing Kenya in The East African Development Bank Board, Rubia stood up for our country and put it on the trajectory that saw us emerge as one of the strongest economies in Africa.
In the intervening years, Hon. Rubia served Nairobi and Kenya as Member of Parliament for Starehe and a minister with dedication and distinction.
But in the last 20 years or so, we have come to define Hon. Rubia with his May 1990 press conference at the New Stanley Hotel together with Hon. Kenneth Matiba at which they challenged the forces of status quo to open up the country’s political space.
In a subsequent interview, Hon. Rubia said: “We really risked our necks because it wasn’t a joke at that time.” I can’t agree more.
As you may recall, at that time, as pressure mounted on Nyayo regime, Kanu and the entire government machinery hit the road touring the whole country – in fact every Province was visited – and with big rallies organized to castigate us proponents of multipartysm.
So it took real courage to stick out your neck, knowing well the consequences. But Muranga has produced many heroes. We had Kenneth Matiba and there was Bildad Kaggia. These are lives we should emulate, embrace and celebrate.
Creating a stable, modern and respected nation that also respects its citizens requires sacrifice and dedication by citizens and leaders.
A generation of Kenyans that has done more than its share in making Kenya great like Hon Rubia here is giving way with their heads high.
We must be prepared to embrace their spirit and carry the country forward.
We must be prepared afresh to take up J.F. Kennedy’s doctrine that asks not what our country can do for us and instead as what we can do for our country.
As a country, we are once again at that critical juncture where we have to embrace the doctrine of hard work, tough decisions and sacrifices for the sake of the nation.
The magnitude of the sacrifices required might not be at par with those we had to make a decade ago or our fathers had to make over five decades ago.
But the goal remains the same; it is the search for a perfect nation. We cannot and we must never stop struggling to make Kenya a perfect nation.
The sacrifices by our fathers in the 1950s and 1960s rid us of colonialists. The sacrifices and hard work by the likes of Hon. Rubia in the 1990s gave us a more open and tolerant government and even a new constitution.
We are now called upon to rededicate our energies to dealing with the threats to the independence our fathers fought for and the freedoms, liberties and rights that came with the struggles of the 1980s to this day.
These threats are ethnic antagonism, lack of national ethos, exclusion, divisive elections and corruption.
There has been deterioration in the relationship between our communities since independence. We have to stop this trend.
We must stop this country from being defined by violence, corruption and impunity and create a more positive culture and image. We must stand together, bring everyone on board and agree that we are weaker alone, stronger together.
We must fix our elections so that elections cease being a threat to stability, economy and lives. Every five years, this country comes to a standstill as electioneering sets in. people lose businesses, property and lives. We must stop this.
And we must tackle corruption and stop it from destroying Kenya. Corruption is being accepted as a way of life in Kenya. We must stop it being easy and profitable.
We want to encourage Kenyans to believe that success comes from hard and honest work. We must close all sanctuaries for the corrupt.
Then and only then shall we say that the sacrifices our fathers and later our compatriots made, were worth the effort and the pain.
Thank you and God Bless Kenya.