Who is Your Shujaa

It is a cold gloomy morning today but a rather special day in my Country. Here in Kenya and most of Africa, we do not experience the Seasons of Winter, Summer, Autumn and Spring. We only have the rainy season and dry season. The Almighty sure is Creative in all He created. As I write this, today, 20th October 2020, is Mashujaa Day in my Country, Kenya. Mashujaa is a Swahili word for Heroes, in singular, Shujaa. I will tell you a bit about Mashujaa Day.

Mashujaa Day is when we celebrate all the heroes who fought tooth and nail for our Independence. They fought, bled, fought again, were imprisoned but kept the fight so that we, who are present today, could have the life we have free from the colonialists. It was previously called Kenyatta Day, to honour our First President, Mzee Jomo Kenyattabut was later changed to Mashujaa Day to celebrate all our heroes after the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. It is celebrated annually on 20th October. On this day, honorary awards are given to the Statesmen by the President of the Republic of Kenya. These Honorary Awards are given to the people who have made an amazing contribution in building our Nation, those who have exhibited qualities of heroism, patriotism or leadership. For example, last year Eliud Kipchoge was awarded the Elder of the Golden Heart of Kenya, for running a Sub 2-hour Marathon in Vienna, Austria. Who is your hero?

Our Freedom Fighters are our Heroes here in Kenya. They fought for our FREEDOM. I will mention a few of them. The MauMau Fighters who fought against the White European settler colonialists. Despite some of them being killed during war, they never gave up the fight. Our Community leaders: Sakawa of the Abagusii who foretold of the coming of the White Colonialists, Koitalel arap Samoei of the Nandi who prophesied the building of the railway on their land, the leaders who collaborated and those who resisted with the White people, Mekatilili wa Menza, a Woman, who led the Agiriama to resist colonialism, and so many other leaders. Wangari Maathai, who is considered the Mother of Trees, the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, an environmentalist and a political activist. She fought for our forests and advocated for a clean environment so that we, humans, could live a healthy life and that the future generations would have survival. All those who laid down their life for us to get freedom, leaders who led us to independence and those who have led us this far, we celebrate you.

Our Parents, whether biological or adoptive, are our heroes. They have provided for us, ensured we have food, clothing, a roof over our heads and most importantly love. They brought us to this world. Though they might not provide all we want, they provide all we need. They try their best to be the best they can be, to do their best, even when we are unappreciative. We appreciate our families, those who are related to us by blood and those who are related to us by other bonds, the friends we chose to be our family, they have walked with us during hard times and good times. Our siblings, yes we fight and quarrel, but they are still our heroes for always being there by our side no matter what.

Our heroes, the teachers, who have taught us all we know now. They have set difficult tests and exams for our betterment. The engineers, the artists, the pilots, the lawyers, the nutritionists, all the professions, you are our heroes, you have built our Nation(s). Our farmers who go to the farm on a daily basis to work and produce food for us to eat. Our Athletes who have put our Nation on the map by representing us well to the International community. Most importantly, our health workers, who are risking their lives for our sake as they fight the Covid-19 battle to ensure we get the best medical treatment while they still work to get a vaccine and medication. We applaud you.

As I asked, “Who is your hero?”, I was hoping that you gave your answers to the question. Some of you may have given the following answers: my mother, father, the freedom fighters, healthcare workers, soldiers and so many other answers. I am sure that 85% of you did not give the answer as “ME”.

You are a hero, I am a hero, we are all heroes. You wake up everyday not knowing what life has in store for you but you are willing to fight. You have done exams, both school and life tests, you have quarrelled with those you love, you have almost given up in life but here you are continuing with the fight. You have fought battles only known to you and even those that you did not know about. You have defended the People and things you love. You have fought depression, sickness and even death. You have fought to achieve all your achievements this far. You have fought pain and heartache and have fought to be happy. Most importantly, you have fought for Survival. I hope as you list down your heroes, that you count yourself as one of them because you have portrayed Strength, Perseverance, Patience and Love. We all know that this journey called life is a difficult one, it has bumps and potholes but here you are fighting hard, You are a HERO.

Again I ask, Nani Shujaa Wako? Who is your hero?

– Abigail Manoti

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