Uhuru Kenyatta's inauguration speech in full

President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives to take oath of office at Kasarani Stadium on November 28, 2017 in Nairobi. PHOTO | SIMON MAINA | AFP

Your Excellencies, Visiting Heads of State and Government;

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners;

Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Fellow Kenyans,

1. Today is yet another historic day for our great motherland.  First and foremost, our gratitude is to our Almighty God.

2. The Prophet Isaiah proclaimed: When you pass through the waters, I shall be with you. When you pass through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, the flames will not consume you.

3. Our God is faithful.  He heard our voices when we cried out to Him.  He listened, and answered our prayers.  He has brought us thus far, and He will take us even further.

4. This is the testimony of our country today; and for this we thank Him.

Fellow Kenyans,

5. Let us at this point welcome all our friends and partners, from our region and beyond, who have spared their invaluable time to come and celebrate with us. We say to them, Asanteni sana, na Karibuni Kenya!

6. You, the Kenyan voter, have been the most important player in the election. Everyone who voted played a role in strengthening our democracy: indeed, today’s celebration is yours.  I say: Asanteni sana.

7. You will all agree with me: the task of managing multiple elections is not a simple business.  For this reason, I wish to thank the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for managing that process under immense pressure. 

8. Our Judiciary – particularly the Supreme Court – adjudicated our electoral petitions with independence.

9. Let me also thank my friend and Brother, Deputy President William Ruto. Your energy, humour and optimism lifted our campaign every day.

10. I also wish to thank Mrs. Rachel Ruto. You have been the spiritual and prayerful bedrock of our two families; and the Kenyan nation. Thank you, Rachel.

11. To my dear wife Margaret: you have been my pillar of strength; your passion to uplift the well-being of every Kenyan inspires me, as it inspires millions of Kenyans.  I thank you, Margaret.

Fellow Kenyans,

12. You took the time to listen to the different points of view, and to the leaders who asked for your vote. We may have chosen different candidates, and different visions, but each of us voted for a better life.

13. I too listened carefully to my competitors, and, in the spirit of inclusivity, I will endeavour to incorporate some of their ideas.

14. This is because the election was not a contest between a good dream and a bad dream; it was a contest between two competing visions.  I believe that those who voted for me chose the better vision. This, however, does not invalidate the aspirations of those who did not vote for me.

15. I undertake to be the custodian of the dreams of all, and to be the keeper of the aspirations of those who voted for me and those who did not. I will be the President of all. And I will devote my time and energy to build bridges to unite and bring prosperity to all Kenyans.

16. To all our elected leaders, accept my congratulations.  You won the confidence of Kenya’s voters – some of the most discerning anywhere in the world.

17. Today, I ask every leader to join me in serving Kenyans without regard to political affiliation or choice – every Kenyan deserves our full attention.

18. The election we have just concluded is probably one of the longest ever held in our continent’s history.  Today is the 123rd day since we began, on August 8th.  Today’s inauguration, therefore, marks the end of our electoral process. The elections are now firmly behind us.

My Fellow Kenyans,

19. It has been a trying time, but once again Kenyans have shown their resilience in calming the passions that accompany political competition.

20. Strength comes from being tested, and Kenyans have been tested as a people since before our independence.  The struggle for freedom was long and hard. But we overcame.

21. After independence, our nationhood was once again tested by Shifta separatism.  But we overcame.

22. In 1982, Kenya was once again tested by an attempt to overthrow a constitutionally elected government.  But we overcame.

23. In 2007, we faced what is probably the greatest political crisis in our country’s history.  But we overcame.

24. Not only did we overcome, but, as a people, we gifted ourselves, seven years ago, one of the most progressive constitutions in the world.

25. This is our character: a people who come together in the toughest of times to forge ahead, confident that tomorrow will be better.  And that is why Kenya stands tall in the community of nations. This is something we should all be proud of.

Fellow Kenyans,

26. The path to a better future is unity.  I believe that we can build a nation in which we live in peace with our brothers and sisters — whatever part of the country they come from, whichever way we worship God, whatever language we speak.  Instead of division, I know that we can build a Kenya which prospers by rewarding hard work, and leaving no one behind.

27. Brothers and sisters: as I see it, you and I together can build a Kenya, which all of us are proud to call home.  But, as every Kenyan knows, few good things come for free. There are two significant things that I believe we must address ourselves to, if we are going to build a united, stable, and prosperous Kenya for all.

28. The first one is to muster the courage to embrace the future by freeing ourselves from the baggage of past grievances. The second is to keep to the rule of law. 

Fellow Kenyans,

29. However serious our grievances, the law must reign supreme.  The law should be the refuge for every Kenyan.  None of us should break outside the law, or constitutional order, whatever our grievances or protestations. 

30. For those in doubt let me remind you.  When a foreign court, the ICC demanded compliance of us, despite our serious misgivings about the process, we complied.

31. When the Supreme Court ruled to invalidate our election, despite our having won, and being told that processes mattered more than your votes, we complied.

32. This Administration has demonstrated by its actions, its readiness to live and lead by the rule of law.  By extension, we expect nothing less from each and every citizen.

33.  In the constitution, we acknowledge the supremacy of the Almighty God of all creation; we swear to respect our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity; and we have resolved to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation.

34. That is the Constitution and the laws of Kenya that today we have sworn to protect and defend.

35. Our Constitution has created three independent, but interdependent, arms of Government.  In its spirit and letter, the Constitution has spelled out the functions of each of these arms.  And there are no overlaps, and no ambiguities, in the execution of these roles.  There are no grey areas.

36. What is true of each arm of government is true also of the two levels of government.

37. As President, I will play my role as constitutionally defined.  I expect other arms of government to do the same.  Ni lazima kila mtu afanye kazi yake kulingana na katiba.  This way, together, we will deliver our promise to the people of Kenya.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

38. Human desires know no natural limit. Left unmoderated by faith or law, they can destroy a nation. To live together in peace and prosperity, a people must agree on a common set of rules.

39. Kenya is a community of more than 40 million people, all with their own views and beliefs. We have lived together in peace since independence, proof that even when we disagree, we know how to live under a single set of rules. The greatest challenges to our peace and security have come when we have deviated from these rules.

40. In the last four months we have tested the rules and institutions we established for ourselves. It has not been easy.

41. The IEBC, the courts, our security agencies – all our institutions have been stretched, some almost to breaking point, by the cut and thrust of politics.  But they have held.

42. When our institutions work properly, all our expectations are delivered, some in our favour, and some against. But that is democracy and the rule of law.

43. We have learnt that our institutions are far more resilient than we might have thought.  They needed to be tested for us to discover their strengths and weaknesses.  Today, we are a people who can tell the world that we live under a robust constitutional order; and that our constitution is no piece of paper, but rather the living expression of our desire to live under the rule of law.

44. In our pursuit of perfection in our institutions, there is always room for improvement. But we should not destroy our institutions every time they do not deliver the individual outcomes we want.  Even if the rule of law does not immediately solve all our problems, its progressive application remains our guaranteed protection.

Fellow Kenyans,

45. When I reflect on the last four years, there are a number of things I am proud of. And four of these stand out.

46.Firstly, I am proud that we have entrenched devolution. We have built a Kenya where every county is the centre of the nation; where every county is a centre of economic development. Through devolution, we have delivered government to the people.

47. Secondly, we have built a firm foundation for economic takeoff. Our aggressive reforms to our business environment have made us the fastest-improving business environment anywhere in the world. 

48. In three years, we have risen 56 places in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, from 136th to 80th.  And we have the new businesses to show for it.

49. We have also embarked on building an entirely new world-class railway system; and thousands of kilometres of access roads to connect producers to markets. We have ensured our children can now study at night, because we have connected thousands of schools and millions of homes to electricity.

50.What does this mean? It means that since June of this year, more than 500,000 Kenyans have travelled the Mombasa-Nairobi route cheaper, faster, and safer than ever before. It means that the children of Kathigiri Primary School – a public primary school in Meru – had a mean score of 404 this year, to claim sixth position nationwide. They have made the most of this opportunity, and will send many of their seventy-one exam candidates to national schools.

51. Thirdly, we have made investments and reforms that have begun to transform healthcare delivery in Kenya. Through the free maternity programme, our mothers no longer see the delivery of our children as a life-threatening experience. Similarly, the expansion of public hospital infrastructure and the transformation of NHIF have improved access to quality healthcare for millions of Kenyans.

52. Fourthly, we have reformed our education system. We have restored the credibility of our exams. We have made education the great equalizer by removing exam fees; by providing digital learning devices; and by reviving our technical and vocational training.

Fellow Kenyans,

53. Let me now define the road ahead.  For the last 5 months, I have held over 700 campaign meetings across the entire length and breadth of our country. I have spoken and interacted directly with millions of Kenyans.

54. As we engaged wananchi in small market centres from Kimende to Kimilili, from Bura to Bumala, from El Wak to Elburgon, from Witu to Wundanyi, we took on board their views, hopes and aspirations. Most resonated well with our agenda while some had proposals on issues they felt we should include in our agenda, in order to further positively impact their lives.

55. When the dust settled after the August 8th election, it was abundantly clear that Kenyans had given the Jubilee Party and its affiliates an overwhelming mandate to execute its agenda.

56.You gave us 62 percent of all governors; 61 percent of all Members of the National Assembly, including women representatives; 58 percent of the Senators; and 55 percent of the membership of the county assemblies, from every region of the country. I am greatly humbled by this.

57. These numbers tell us that Kenyans know what they want. And we are determined to fulfill the Jubilee development agenda that they chose. And with such an overwhelming mandate, my Party and I can have no excuses.

Fellow Kenyans,

58. This is my second and final term as President. I have taken on board the aspirations of the people of Kenya to move forward, and as I have before, I will dedicate all my energies and that of my Administration towards achieving two principal objectives over the next 5 years.

59. The first is to strengthen the ties that bind us as Kenyans at every level of our society.

60. It is time for us to learn that it is fine for us to agree to disagree, while still strengthening our bonds of unity and nationhood.

61. On my part, I have begun reaching out to all leaders, across the political divide, restating my commitment and expressing my willingness to work with them, to achieve this objective of nationhood.

62. My second priority is borne out of all the interactions I have had during my first term and more so refreshed during the campaigns.

63. Over the next 5 years, my Administration will target 100% Universal Healthcare coverage for all households. And let me explain what this means: you will recall Jackson Wamai, a 28 year old teacher from Murang’a, diagnosed with kidney failure, who once had to travel two hours to and from Nairobi for dialysis; threatening his livelihood, today, it takes him twenty minutes to get to a dialysis session in Murang’a, and his job is secure.

64. What’s more: he doesn’t have to pay for it; the NHIF covers it.

65. But Jackson is only one of 6.8 million beneficiaries of NHIF medical cover.  Within five years, my Administration will ensure that 13 million Kenyans and their dependents are beneficiaries of this scheme.

66. This vision will be driven by a complete reconfiguration of the National Hospital Insurance Fund and reform of the laws governing private insurance companies.

67. Furthermore, it is our intention to facilitate affordable housing; and a home ownership programme that will ensure every working family can afford a decent home. That is why, over the next 5 years, my Administration will create 500,000 new home owners.

68. My Administration will focus on attracting from both public and private sources, the injection of patient, low-cost capital into the housing sector.

69. Policy and administrative reforms which are targeted at lowering the cost of construction, and improving accessibility of affordable mortgages will be given first priority.

70. Creating jobs and opportunities for our young population is also a top priority. In this regard, we will target manufacturing.

71. As you know our manufacturing sector is the primary vehicle for the creation of decent jobs. We will build on ongoing efforts, such as the VW and Peugeot motor-vehicle assembly plants; the fertilizer blending factories; and Wrigleys in the confectionery industry. Similarly, we will target the creation of 1,000 small and medium scale enterprises in agro-processing.

72. Over my term, we will grow and sustain this manufacturing sector, and raise its share of the national cake from 9 to 15 percent.

73. To achieve this leap, I have directed that with effect from 1st December 2017, the power tariffs charged to manufacturers will be reduced by 50 per cent between the hours of 10:00pm and 6:00am.  This in line with our policy of a 24-hour economy.

74.  Further, my Administration will focus on developing the following sub-sectors: agro-processing, textiles and apparel, leather processing, construction materials, innovation and IT, mining and extractives.

75. The underlying theme will be one of value addition, as well as value- and job-creation. Whether it is our vegetables, tea, coffee, oil or gemstones, our policies and actions as a government over the next 5 years will be to ensure that as much value, and as many jobs, as possible are created and retained in Kenya.

76. We shall reach out to our key trading partners to work with us to achieve a win-win outcome that enables Kenyans to get the most out of their products.

77. This will involve negotiations to open new international markets for our products, and to attract even more new investment.

78. The recent prolonged drought has taught us some painful and expensive lessons. We must completely re-engineer our agricultural sector in order to be food secure. Never again should we allow the vagaries of weather to hold us hostage.

79. Over the next 5 years we shall invest heavily in securing our water towers and river ecosystems to harvest and sustainably exploit the potential of our water resources.

80. We shall take steps to address idle arable land ownership and utilization.  We shall take steps to encourage and facilitate large scale commercial agriculture to help diversify our staples.  We shall redesign subsidies to the sector to ensure they target improvements in food yields and production quality. 

81. We shall provide, together with other actors, key enablers within the farming process that will address distribution, wastage, storage and value-addition of agricultural commodities.

Fellow Kenyans,

82. These initiatives are achievable. However, I, more than anyone, know that they will not be attained without addressing the institutional failings of governance.

83. I want to put the public service on notice; it is not going to be “business as usual”. I will not allow faceless bureaucrats and functionaries to deny the public the quality of service they deserve from their government.

84. Secondly, we will engage with the Judiciary to address the protracted delays in our justice system, and the use of the courts to sabotage the delivery of government programmes. This has been at great expense to the Kenyan taxpayer.

85. Thirdly, through Parliament we shall enact legislation to strengthen fiscal discipline and accountability at both the national and county levels. Every shilling of Kenyans’ tax payer money must be fully accounted for.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

86. No one eats politics. For the last fifty years, we have watched as the Asian economies have risen to wealth, while much of Africa has stagnated. The difference is that they used politics to create vibrant economies for their people.

87. In our case, we have pursued politics as an end in itself, rather than as a means to economic prosperity. This must end.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

88. I want to thank Kenya’s friends in the international community for standing with us. Kenya is a proud member of the community of nations, and we will always work hard to remain a force for good. We will continue to strengthen our economic ties and bilateral and multilateral relations.

89. We have learned that in the fight against international terrorism, free and democratic nations are allies against a common enemy. We will continue to fight together, to share our knowledge, and to support our allies. As we have for half a century, we will work for peace in our region, for that is what a good neighbour does.

90. For my fellow Africans, the free movement of people on our continent has always been a cornerstone of Pan-African brotherhood and fraternity.

91. Today, I am directing that any African wishing to visit Kenya will be eligible to receive a visa at the port of entry. To underscore Kenya’s commitment, this shall not be done on the basis of reciprocity. 

92. The freer we are to travel and live with one another, the more integrated and appreciative of our diversity, we will become. The political balkanization that risks our mutual security, the negative politics of identity, will recede as our brotherhood expands to embrace more Africans.

93. Finally, to our Brothers and Sisters in the East African Community, you are our closest friends; our fate and yours are joined at the hip; our troubles and triumphs are yours, and yours are ours. I will work with you, my brothers, the leaders of the East African Community, to bring a renewed energy and optimism to our union. Together, we can deliver the peace and prosperity for which our citizens are crying out; divided, we will struggle to realise the full potential of our people.

94. As a mark of our continued commitment to you, our Brothers and Sisters in the East African Community; from today, you will be treated like Kenyans. Like your Kenyan brothers and sisters, you will need only your identity card. You can now work, do business; own property, farm and if you wish, and find a willing partner, you can marry and settle in Kenya.  And this commitment we make with no conditions for reciprocity but driven by our desire for deeper regional integration.  As l welcome you l remind you that equally you shall be subject to the same rules and laws as your Kenyan brothers and sisters.

95. Fellow citizens, I want to remind every Kenyan that God commands us to love and protect our neighbour, and that the safety and prosperity of our nation also depends on how you treat your neighbour. Your neighbour can be from any community, can worship differently from you, but it is they who will take you to hospital on a late night when an emergency strikes. They will run to your door in response to your cries of alarm. Your children will play with theirs, regardless of the differences adults can be so conscious of. I urge you all to be your brother’s keeper.

96. Every day, I will work to bring you closer to your dreams, and to unite our beloved country. This sacred task goes beyond the work of a President or any group of government officials.  I call on all peace loving Kenyans to join me in this endeavour. 

My Fellow Kenyans,

97.  As l conclude let me celebrate our children. The greatest joy of my presidency has been my interaction with them.  They have and remain my greatest strength and inspiration.  They are a clean slate, on which we can write the future.

98.  In them, I see the promise of a nation on the rise; in them, I see the promise of a united nation, whose identity is not defined by ethnic markings. We shall overcome our ethnic barriers. And we shall do so by learning from our children.

99.  I see this promise in Goldalyn Kakuya, who is here today. She overcame her special needs to emerge top of the nation in her KCPE exams.  And all of us together celebrated and loved her for her achievement.  If Goldalyn overcame, so too will Kenya.

100. Today I direct that, in line with our promise of free day secondary education, all candidates who sat their KCPE this year will know their Form One placement by Christmas this year.

Fellow Kenyans,

101.  I ask you to make a pledge today. I ask you to reject pessimism and cynicism in your thought and talk about Kenya; instead, embrace the empowerment that comes from optimism and hope even when times are tough.

102. Pledge that no matter what language you speak, that no matter what part of Kenya you come from you; that no matter your religion, and no matter your social status, you will be your brother’s keeper.

103. Pledge, to work as hard as you can to improve your productivity, and to ensure that your children grow up honest and productive Kenyans, and to grow your country to the best of your ability.

104. Finally, brothers and sisters, I ask you to pledge to reject the politics of division, hate and violence, and instead take the higher, more sacred road, of working to build your community and our beloved country Kenya.

God bless you, God bless Kenya, God bless Africa.