- Stephen Kariuki embarks on a 230-kilometre walk to Kirinyaga for the Mashujaa Day event.
- He says it is his fourth journey, his first being to President Uhuru and DP Ruto’s inauguration at Kasarani Stadium.
For a man who was jailed for one and a half years during Kenya’s second liberation, long walks to the Mashujaa Day events is his modern expression of patriotism.
Stephen Kariuki, 67, who hails from Kivumbini, Nakuru County is now on his fourth journey to a Mashujaa Day event.
This year it will be held at Wanguru Stadium in Kirinyaga County, a 230-kilometre walk for the elderly man.
Kariuki says his first walk was to President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto’s inauguration at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi.
The following year, he walked to Kakamega for the 2018 Mashujaa Day celebrations. In 2019, he missed the event which took place in Mombasa County.
Denied access to Mashujaa Day event
Despite the long walks, the elderly man does not always have the surety of accessing the Mashujaa Day venues. Owing to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, he was denied entry to the Gusii Stadium in Kisii County over strict protocols. He however says it did not bother him.
When asked why he prefers to brave the long journeys on foot instead of employing public transport, he says the country’s forefathers fought for independence in such crude ways.
“Our freedom fighters did not have cars in the forests. They fought on their feet using crude weapons. For me, my weapons are this Kenyan flag and three-legged stool I was given by my grandfather. I feel like I relive their patriotism act when I walk,” Kariuki explains.
Call for peace, unity
For the sexagenarian, walking to various places is not a show off but rather a call to peace, unity and a renewed spirit of patriotism.
“I want us all to embrace patriotism, to have a peaceful and loving country. As we approach the elections, I would like to preach peace and remind Kenyans to shun tribalism,” Kariuki adds.
Unlike previous years when he made the long journeys alone, this year he is accompanied by Samuel Mwangi, who has persistently been requesting for his companionship for the past four years.
Kariuki hopes to arrive in Kirinyaga on the eve of the event and hopefully be granted access to the Wanguru Stadium, where President Uhuru Kenyatta will be gracing the national event.
Mashujaa Day which is celebrated on October 20, was previously referred to as Kenyatta Day. Interior PS Karanja Kibicho says renovations at the venue have been completed.