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A RED LETTER DAY

“Ladies and gentlemen, may I take this chance to officially welcome you to this occasion that marks our thirty eighth independence day celebration. This day is very important to our country because it marks all these years we have been free from the white mans colonialism. We also think back to remember all those patriotic citizens who fought and sacrificed their lives for our freedom.” He paused, his Adams apple bobbling down as he swallowed a huge lump of saliva.

          My father and I were seated three rows behind the head of state. This was the main stand where all important government officials, diplomats and esteemed guests from other countries were seated. Earlier on other important officials including the vice president had spoken but before them we had watched various spectacular entertainments. Schools, colleges, all parastatal choirs, had performed and various armed forces had marched past the main dias.What had enthralled the most had been the acrobatic maneuvers by the Kenya Air force jet fighters. Their formation had been so spellbinding that I appreciated when the president had stood up to salute them.

          Turning over to a new page of his prepared speech the president continued.”When we attained our independence, the founding father of our nation, Mzee Jommo Kenyatta spelt out three things that we needed to combat as a matter of priority. These were poverty, ignorance and illiteracy. Let us reflect back and see what we have been able to achieve. After independence only about five percent of Kenyans were able to read and right but today sixty five percent of Kenyans can do that. We have managed to build thousands of primary and secondary schools. Five public universities and numerous private universities have also come up and this, ladies and gentlemen is a good reason for us to be proud.” There were thunderous applauds from the big crowd that said patiently on the grass in the park, braving the sweltering midday sun. They had come in all kinds the young, the old all resplendent in their best attire to mark this eventful occasion.

          The head of state took a sip of water from a glass and continued.”Fellow Kenyans, in as much as we have tried to eliminate poverty and achieved much, there are various issues that have been great obstacles. These are corruption and tribalism.” Many in the crowd nodded in approval.”These vices have only succeeded in making few people rich and many people poor. We should ask ourselves why we fought for independence, was it to enrich individuals? Was it to loot our country? NO .It was to enable all Kenyans to share the national cake equitability. From today I have formed an anti-corruption unit made up of special police and special courts meant to deal with corrupt government officers. Anybody found misappropriating government funds by virtue of his or her office will be prosecuted straight away!” Once more the crowd roared in approval, happy that atlas the unpatriotic Kenyan who had been stealing from them would face the law. Some of them got carried away they stood up and surged towards the presidential rostrum, probably to hug him in approval but the ever vigilant presidential security team made of young mean-looking, athletic men in dark glasses kept them at a bay.

          Finally, ladies and gentlemen, let me appeal to each one of you to help fight the HIV/AIDS scourge that is ravaging our country. Let us do everything to stop it. With those few remarks I would like to wish you a happy Jamhuri day and Merry Christmas that is coming in a fortnight’s time.Thankl you”

          The president did not sit down but stood at attention as the national anthem was sung. The crowd was also on its feet. After this the president and his entourage made its way down the rostrum amid a retinue of bodyguards and a battery of inquisitive journalists who jostled for space to take snapshots and interview him. He answered a few questions before getting into his official limousine that sped away amid the wailing of sirens. My father held my hand tightly and led me to our car. He told me that we were going to statehouse for the garden party hosted by the president to commemorate this day. What a day it had been.

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