Ambassador Godec’s Remarks at the
2017 AmCham Thanksgiving Day Gala
November 18, 2017
AmCham President Ahmed Radi,
AmCham Board of Directors,
Ladies and gentlemen.
Mabibi na Mabwana. Hamjambo! Habari za joini?
Good evening everyone and it is wonderful to be here with you to celebrate a very special American holiday, Thanksgiving. I’m grateful that AmCham Kenya gave us the opportunity to come together, to celebrate and reflect, as families across the United States do this time of year.
Holidays help us take the time to recognize the people and moments that are special in our lives. Each holiday, in its own way, is important and allows us to honor something greater than ourselves. Thanksgiving, which began with our earliest settlers, was officially declared an American holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 when he proclaimed, “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving.”
While the United States has changed dramatically over the 154 years since that proclamation, Thanksgiving remains a day for gratitude and reflection. It is also, now, synonymous with family, amazing food, American football, and fun-filled parades. But at its heart, Thanksgiving remains most importantly a day about giving thanks, and being grateful, for all that we have.
And, like you, I am grateful for the many wonderful people and things in my life – including, of course, the opportunity to have served as U.S. Ambassador here for these past five years. So, in that spirit of gratitude, please allow me to reflect for a moment on some of what I’m grateful for in Kenya.
I am thankful, first, for the wonderful people of Kenya. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many Kenyans as I’ve crisscrossed this extraordinary country. From all of you here in Nairobi, to the farmers in central, the business people in Kisumu, and the fisherman in Lamu, all across this country I’ve seen, and been grateful for, the hospitality, intelligence, and vibrancy of the Kenyan people. I am thankful too for the entrepreneurial spirit of Kenyans and their resilience and hopefulness. It is thanks to this energy and hard work that Kenya’s economy and business are strong.
I am thankful for the stunning beauty and magnificent wildlife of Kenya. Before returning here, I served at the Embassy earlier in my career. Just as the wonderful Kenyan people and magnificent natural heritage drew me back, more and more Americans are sharing this experience. In 2016, visitors from the United States overtook the United Kingdom as Kenya’s top source for inbound travel. We aim to continue that growth of American tourism – hopefully with direct flights between Kenya and the United States starting in 2018.
I am thankful, too, for the ongoing partnership between Kenya and United States. That partnership has been strong for more than 50 years. We work together in so many ways – security, health, education, agriculture, and governance – it is remarkable. And our friendship grows deeper by the day. Leading the way are the Kenyans and Americans who collaborate in business, civil society, academia, and other areas. Together, we are weaving a rich tapestry of ties that bind us together and are taking our countries forward.
And, of course, I’m grateful for my many colleagues, both Kenyan and American, at the U.S. Embassy. A number of them are joining us here tonight. Thank you all for attending.
I am thankful too for all of you, for your partnership and collaboration over the years. You have helped to strengthen U.S.-Kenya business relations and to build mutual prosperity.
Most importantly of all, I am grateful for my own family, starting with my extraordinary wife Lori. While Lori could not join us this evening, I hope all of you will have the opportunity to meet her if you haven’t already. Lori is the very definition of courage, strength, grace, wisdom, and beauty.
There are so many things for each of us to be thankful for… but let me add just one more… thank you Maxwell Okello for asking that remarks tonight be kept very brief.
So, in conclusion, please join me tonight in a Thanksgiving toast;
[Begin Toast] To our two great countries, to all of you, to colleagues, to friends, and to family: on this Thanksgiving a profound and heartfelt “thank you” for making this world a better, warmer, happier, and more magical place. Cheers. [End Toast]
Thank you for coming tonight, and thank you for your continued friendship.