We are living through history. Thousands of Kenyans are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, as critical workers and caregivers, as entrepreneurs and workers trying to turn around our fortunes, and as partakers in the dizzying roller coaster that is 2020. Because and in spite of the global pandemic we are powering through, it is a fitting ode to resilience and human character.
COVID-19, at best, has slowed down our pace of life in practically every aspect, illustrating the uncertainty of life. At its worst, it has killed over a million people globally in the space of months, more than 1,000 of whom are our fellow Kenyans. Importantly, it has taught us to be appreciative of the things and people that matter to us.
As we reflect on our nation’s journey through the years that birthed our republic up to this moment, it becomes us to reflect on moments — struggles, events and the people who participated in them — that have defined our journey as a republic, to help us look to the future.
Among the things that matter to us is our socio-political system, within which our economic infrastructure vests. It did not come easy; for decades, selfless men and women have made incredible sacrifices to assure our collective state for the better, including attacking oppressive, undemocratic, subjugatory and corrupt forces. Yet others have worked tirelessly to lay the ground for our cultural and economic advancement, to create a society where all Kenyans can access opportunities and become empowered.
These often faceless— and sometimes well-known — Kenyans are the ones we gather to celebrate each year, not necessarily because we have excellent strides to speak of, but because we owe it to them, ourselves and posterity to acknowledge the pioneers upon whose footprints we forge our collective future.
This year, besides the coronavirus pandemic, we are grappling with political feuds that seem to have birthed so much suspicion, mistrust and hatred amongst us, breeding disunity, and conspiring to make it difficult to come together, when it is the only thing left for us to do.
As we head towards closing the year, it becomes us to herald the significance of the selfless sacrifices made by Kenyans in the most intimate sense, to remember the ‘heroes’ who are not with us anymore, and honour modern-day ones: drivers, health workers, teachers, jua kali artisans, hawkers, mitumba vendors — and, yes, even our politicians.
As has become apparent this year, our country’s true strength is its people; we are our own greatest asset. Our nation progresses and holds together because we are incredibly blessed to have amongst our number, selfless, patriotic Kenyans who are willing to put their faith into the test, and even their lives on the line, just to actualize the dream of our republic: a united, prosperous nation.
In living up to the aspirations of our forebears, let us also choose to honour our loved ones who are leaders and innovators — through their skill, talents or gifts — in their communities and who make a positive difference every single day, without as much as a whisper of how much they are doing or have already done. Let us return the love they so freely give by giving it to others.
Let us seek to find and celebrate people around us who can direct our attention to what truly matters and direct us to genuine and credible personal goals that, collectively, define our national direction. (