Wananchi Watukufu wa Marsabit

H.E. The Dep. Governor of Marsabit County, Solomon Gubo Riwe, Honourable Senator, Marsabit County, Eng Godana Hargura; Nominated Senator, Senator Naomi Jillo Waqo;

Hon Members of the National Assembly Hon Musa Arbele, Hon Safia Sheikh Adan, Hon Rasso, Hon Chachu Ganya, Hon Kalicha Gufu: Speaker of County Assembly, Hon Mathew Loltome; Marsabit County Commissioner, Mr. Gilbert Kitiyu;

Honourable Members of the Marsabit County Assembly here present, led by the Majority and Minority leaders;

CEC Members, Chief Officers & all the staff of MCG here present; County Security Team; Our Esteemed Elders; Religious Leaders, Representatives of the Non-Governmental Organizations, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;

It gives me great pleasure to join you today for this year’s MASHUJAA DAY celebration – a day we set aside to honour our Heroes and Heroines. My warm greetings to all Marsabit families in every corner of this County; and to all those who may be outside but still regard Marsabit their home:

As you all know, Kenya’s road to independence was truly long and rough. It took the sustained effort and self-sacrifices of many brave people, some of whom lost their lives in the struggle to set us free. Coming here today to pay tribute to the fearless men and women who fought for our independence is such an admirable show of patriotism and I thank you all for coming.

On this day, we also recognize the great efforts of all pre-independent and post-independent leaders who laid the foundation for our socio-economic and political growth. The only befitting reward we can accord them is to live up to their dreams by sacrificing all our other narrow interests for the sake of our Country.

Beloved People of Marsabit:

The heroes and heroines we celebrate today come from all walks of life, and from every community across Kenya. HEROES OF OUR TIME, both recognized and unrecognized are also numerous, and can even be found in every part of this County. A nurse here in Laisamis being woken up in the middle of the night to go and attend to a patient; the only car owner in a far flung village, and a Boda Boda rider, who unconditionally wakes up past midnight to offer emergency services, Parents who struggle to pay schools fees for their children; a person who, out of his kindness offers to pay school fees for a less fortunate child; People who have set up orphanages and children homes and those who have created WhatsApp pages for charitable causes, are all our heroes. I salute you all. This day is marked to observe your unsung deeds and personal sacrifices.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Since taking over the Mantle of Leadership one year ago, your Government has done tremendous work across all parts of this County, and across all sectors – We have improved and expanded health services, invested heavily in Water Services, Education and Training, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries development. We have focussed and continue to focus our attention to improvement and expansion of Government services so that essential services are not only available and affordable, but are also of high quality. We have undertaken a very comprehensive consultation across all the 20 wards of this County, put together all the views and we have now finalized our 5-year development Plan – the CIDP for 2018-2022. The Plan is now with the County Assembly awaiting approval.

However, the finalization of the CIDP will not be the end of our consultation with you. We will use every chance available to seek your views on your development concerns, emerging challenges and opportunities. I strongly believe that the days when the “Government knows everything” are long gone. We will put you in the driver’s seat to help us determine and implement your development priorities.

Today, I will not go into the details of what your Government has already done the past one year or the plans for the years ahead. I will soon deliver the “State of the County” Address to the County Assembly and the public at large, and I will use that occasion to provide an update on the performance of your Government since our inauguration in August 2017. We will communicate to you the date of the State of the County Address once it is set and confirmed to us by the Speaker of our County Assembly.

Ladies and Gentlemen:We cannot celebrate this day Mashujaa Day of 2018 without giving prominence to the important issue of peace and harmony in our County. We have arrived at critical moment in the history of this County, when we must, either, find peace and embrace it unconditionally, or else sink together in chaos and conflicts. Definitely, sinking together can never be an option – We must find peace and even if we cannot find it anywhere around us, we will have to give birth to it NOW.

Make no mistake – when I am talking about peace, I am talking about genuine peace, not just between Gabbra and Borana, Borana and Rendille, Burji-Garri or Gabbra and Dassanach – I am talking about peace for all, and between all – the kind of peace that will make life in Marsabit possible and worth living, the kind that enables Marsabit people and Marsabit communities to grow and to build a better life for their children – NOT merely for this time, but for all the time.

There is no second option – we must ensure an end, not just an end to current conflict in our County, but an end to the beginnings of all conflicts.

Fellow County Men and Women:

Undoubtedly, Marsabit County is a home to many communities and ethnic groups with diverse social and cultural heritage. For too long now, this diversity has been misused by some to breed hatred and cause inter-ethnic wars. It appears that there are war merchants in towns who plan and cause wars, mostly in the rural areas, amongst the already very poor rural folks. The political class also carries their fair share of the blame, for in their recklessness they oftentimes attempt to “Divide and Conquer” in the pursuit of narrow political interests.

You will recall that last year, during the campaign periods, we all harbored very deep fear that serious election-related conflicts would arise. But fortunately for us, peace prevailed during and after the elections. We all came together and set ourselves on building our County and we have just been doing that the past one year. The recent skirmishes in Moyale where the business community regrettably lost properties worth millions of shillings, and the conflict in parts of Saku and N/Horr sub-counties are great drawbacks and such a shame on us all.

It appears that in this County, each time we pull ourselves closer to our ideals of building a cohesive County, the ideals that say we have a collective responsibility to care for each other, somebody somewhere pushes us back. More often than not, our conflicts are manufactured by some coward war entrepreneurs who are fearful of unity and cohesion, and would want to keep us divided and angry at each other, because that helps them maintain the status quo to keep their power and privilege.

Now, in the context of the on-going conflicts both in Moyale, Saku and North Horr sub-counties, understand that no single community is exclusively responsible for taking us backwards; and none can also have a monopoly on wisdom to help us return to reason.

These are extraordinary times. And they’re dangerous times too. But here’s the good news. We, the leaders of this great County have decided to stand together, hold each other’s hands and face these shameful conflicts head on. With your leaders speaking in one voice, we now have the chance, not the certainty but the chance, to restore some sense of sanity to our County. I sincerely thank all the leaders from across the political divide and the elders from the warring communities for their commitment to work towards peaceful coexistence of all. My sincere thanks also go to Marsabit Interfaith Council for all their arbitration efforts.

But the work does not end with the leaders’ and elders’ declaration for peace. Everyone of you, wherever you may be, have a role in the peace building and reconciliation process. Reconciliation, in times of conflict such as now, may not be an easy task. We could just focus on our differences, bring to memory the past conflicts and think that it would be difficult to agree on anything and to find a basis for common ground.

Of course, war mongers will tell you that there is no common ground between the warring communities.

BUT I am here to tell you that common ground exists. Maybe it’s not fashionable to say that right now. May be it’s hard to see and hear it with all the nonsense and noises going on. But common ground exists. We have seen it. We have lived it in our day to day interaction with each other in our homes, places of work and places of worship.

Beloved People of Marsabit:

We must all turn our backs upon the horrors of the past and look to the future. We cannot afford to drag forward across the years to come hatreds and revenges which have sprung from the wars of the past. If our children are to be saved from future misery, the present generation must respond to the call for peace, with all the urgency it deserves. Tomorrow may be too late. The wrongs and injuries which have been inflicted on each other, will be washed away by the miseries which have been endured on all sides. It should not be said of us, that the only lesson which can be learnt from the people of Marsabit is that “We cannot learn from History”. There is absolutely no need for any further agony than has already been created.

I understand as much as you do that Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue and humane ways.

As your Governor, I will work with the leadership of our County, and all stakeholders to work and facilitate efforts towards fostering a meaningful, sustainable and durable peace in our County.

I want to appeal to the national security team in Marsabit to take their rightful place in the maintenance of law and order.

On this note, I want to tell the administrators from the National Government and those charged with our security that, Marsabit communities even those who may be currently in conflict, share a common kinship, and are truly brothers. It has been common for us to disagree and at times even fight, only for us again to re-ignite the natural brotherhood and live by it immediately thereafter. So, I want to urge you that at all times, both in times of peace and conflicts, your action and utterances should not be perceived to magnify any differences there could be. Granted, in times of war every action could tend to evoke certain suspicion, but it is your duty to show that any suspicion of your actions is just but a misconception.

As I conclude my speech to you on this Heroes Day, I want us to remember some famous words – “That peace demands the most heroic labour and the most difficult sacrifice. Peace demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience”.

So let us then prepare ourselves in deed, in thought and in spirit for Peace in this County Now and Forever!

Finally, I take this opportunity to convey to all K.C.P.E and K.C.S.E candidates of this year my sincere best wishes as they prepare to sit for their examinations. Be our heroes.

May God bless you All. May God bless Marsabit County.

Thank you.