Mashujaa Day 2019: President Kenyatta accords Eliud Kipchoge top State honor

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday awarded world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge with the Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart medal during Mashujaa Day celebrations in Mombasa.

The athlete was recognised for his feat during the recent INEOS 1:59 Challenge held in Vienna, Austria, where he became the first human to ever run a marathon in under two hours.

The President called on Kipchoge to join him on the podium and conferred upon him the honor while describing him as “living legend” and the “greatest of our time.”

President Uhuru said he was bestowing the honour on Kipchoge on behalf of “past and present sporting heroes” as the marathoner became the first sports personality to achieve such State recognition.

The Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart is a Presidential award second only to Chief of the Order of the Golden Heart which is mainly a reserve for Heads of State.

Among government officials who have previous received the Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart include Deputy President William Ruto, Speakers of Parliament as well as various Cabinet Secretaries.

“On this day we celebrate those who have built Kenya with their bravery, their sacrifice and their fidelity; we celebrate and honour those that go above and beyond the call of duty,” said President Kenyatta.

“Today we honour the Kenyans called to serve around the world, our Kenyans in the diaspora who continue to be our brand ambassadors in countries far from their home and who continue to support millions of Kenyans in their homeland.”

He further added: “A shujaa is one who sacrifices greed, selfishness, personal comfort and advancement at the altar of the greater good.”

DP Ruto, on his part, congratulated President Kenyatta for steering development in the country, further referring to him as a shujaa.

“We must deal with poverty and we must deal with unemployment and Your Excellency the framework you have set under the Big 4 plan is actually the frame work that will tackle those two major challenges,” said the DP.

“We have seen tremendous investment in our infrastructure; we have built a brand new railway, we have built many kilometers of road, we have connected millions to electricity.”

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party boss Raila Odinga, speaking at the same function, called on Kenyans to support the handshake as well as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

He also rubbished remarks by leaders who criticised him when he recently ordered for the stoppage of the dredging exercise at the Indian Ocean to enable for the recovery of the bodies of 35-year-old Mariam Kighenda and her four-year-old daughter Amanda.