Remarks by Ambassador Robert F. Godec American Independence Day Reception

Waheshimiwa, mabibi na mabwana, hamjambo!

Habari za jioni?  Mambo vipi?

Karibuni sana, na asanteni kwa kufika hapa leo.

Speaker of the National Assembly the honorable Justin Muturi, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 241st anniversary of America’s independence.


I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to organize this year’s celebration, and to join our Public Affairs Counselor Dan Travis in thanking our donors, whose generosity made tonight’s event possible.


The Nairobi Chamber Chorus and their conductor tonight, Noah Ochomo, were amazing.  Thank you for that wonderful performance of the Kenyan national anthem.  And the American Star Spangled Banner was remarkable – you are a treasure Maureen Obadha!  Thank you too to Chris Bitok for the wonderful jazz tunes.  And shortly, we will have the pleasure of listening to Eric Wainaina and Atemi Oyungu.


And, a special thank you to the U.S. Marines for presenting the colors – which is always moving, especially on an evening like this.


Please join me in a round of applause for everyone who made a contribution to tonight’s celebration.  It was truly a team effort!


241 years ago, America’s Founding Fathers took a step… a step of extraordinary courage… a step that has echoed across the years.  They declared themselves and the 13 colonies they represented to be free.  Tonight, we honor the brave men who signed our Declaration of Independence.  The declaration began a revolution that continues to today… a revolution that promises liberty, equality, and justice for all.  We are not yet finished… more remains to be done to realize fully the ideals… but for over two centuries, across the world, our Declaration has inspired and moved men and women who dream of a better future for themselves and their children.


America is strong because we hold true to the principles and values set out in the Declaration, and in our Constitution.  America is successful because of our diversity.  We are a nation of many traditions, cultures, religions, and languages.  We come from everywhere… from England, from India, from China, from Mexico, from Egypt, from my great grandparent’s home, Slovenia… and, yes, from Kenya.  And we come together – thanks to our Declaration and our Constitution – through democracy to forge a shared future.  In America, it is democracy that lights the way.


And so it is in Kenya too.  Kenya, just like America, fought for its freedom… and its democracy.  And, as Kenyans approach elections in just over a month, Americans stand with you – with your constitution and your democracy.  Now, to be clear, the United States does not support any candidate or any political party.  We support the Kenyan people’s right to chart their own course.  We support the democratic process.  We support Kenyans having a free, fair, credible, and peaceful opportunity to choose their own leaders and decide Kenya’s future on August 8.


Over my nearly five years in Kenya, I have crisscrossed your great and beautiful country.  I have seen so much of its remarkable diversity.  I’ve spoken with pastoralists in Turkana, artists in Taita-Taveta, entrepreneurs in Nakuru, elders in Meru, young people in Kisumu, women activists in Garissa, farmers in Laikipia, and religious leaders in Eldoret.  And from them – all of them – I’ve learned that Kenyans want peace, the rule of law, good governance, and prosperity for their country.  They want jobs, a good education, a clean environment, a safe and healthy community, and a bright future for their children.  I’ve learned that Kenya’s diversity – just like America’s – is its strength.  As a friend, the United States will do all it can to help Kenya hold successful elections on August 8.  But while our support is important, only Kenyans can ensure the polls are free, fair, credible, and peaceful.


I’ve said this before, and I will again: No Kenyan should die because of an election.  From my experience in this great country, I know Kenyans can hold successful elections… if they work together and commit themselves to the principles of their Constitution.  If Kenyans do, they will build a remarkable future and inspire Africa and the world.


And as you do so, the United States will continue to stand with Kenya, our steadfast partner for over 50 years.  Our relationship is a rich tapestry, woven of many threads.  It includes our excellent government-to-government relations.  We work together to improve health care, educate children, assist farmers, and build prosperity.  And, we stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.


The tapestry includes our economic cooperation – the growing number of American companies that are here, investing in Kenya’s future.  American business contributes to Kenyan manufacturing, telecommunications, aviation, and much more.  Our firms create tens of thousands of jobs for Kenyans.


Education is another piece of the tapestry.  American universities collaborate with Kenyan universities in medicine, business, and countless other fields.  The University of Nairobi alone has more than 50 American universities in partnerships.  This year, over 3,000 Kenyan students are attending colleges across the United States, including every school in the prestigious Ivy League.  And American students and professors are here at many of your schools to learn from you.


And the tapestry includes the deep personal ties between Kenyans and Americans.  These ties are created by the more than 100,000 Kenyans living in the United States and the 20,000 Americans living here.  Another 100,000 Americans visit Kenya each year to see your beautiful country for themselves.  From each thread in the U.S.-Kenya tapestry, our partnership, our friendship, is woven.


Tonight, I would like to thank His Excellency, President Kenyatta, the Kenyan government, and the Kenyan people for all we have accomplished together.  In the past year, we have gone from strength to strength.  But I know… you know… we can do more yet.  Together, we can accomplish so much. Together, we can… and we will… realize the hopes and dreams of both Kenyans and Americans for a better world.


Thank you for joining my wife Lori and me, and the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya to celebrate the 241st birthday of the United States of America.


Happy Birthday America!


Pamoja tusonge mbele!


Asanteni sana!