Social protection – Rewarding Mzee Morowa Galana

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When Mzee Meza Morowa Galana (HSC) talked to this writer in April 2013, he did not have kind words for the Kenya government. “Never trust the Government of Kenya,” he charged. “The government only gives lip service to its heroes, most of who are living in squalid conditions.” He felt his contribution to the nation by way of the tune of Kenya’s National Anthem had not been rewarded and he was destined to die a bitter and frustrated man. He believed he made a contribution to Independent Kenya which should be recognized and appreciated. “I did not hold a gun and go to the bush like Dedan Kimathi or Major Blue and others. However, I contributed the melody and the whole world acknowledges that,” the 95-year old retired school teacher told this writer. Mzee Meza is reputed for the melody of Kenya’s National Anthem, whose tune was coined from a lullaby he composed for children when he served as a school teacher about 50 years ago. “The government of Kenya has left a bad legacy. What I offered them was beneficial, but they turned it into loss. I was discarded and rejected; there was no appreciation through words or deeds. No one remembers me. Never trust the Kenya Government,” he lamented. Then, Mzee Meza was living in a filthy two-bed roomed mud-walled house in Makere ya Gwano in Wenje division of Tana River County. He was (and is still) sick and frail but he was recuperating at home where he occasionally had good time with his great grand children. But on October 1, 2014 as the world was celebrating the International Day for Elderly Persons, Mzee Meza had a reason to be happy, though his advanced age could not allow him to dance as he was known to do during his days as a celebrated music teacher of his time.
Mzee Morowa Galana's new house

Mzee Morowa Galana’s new house

The day coincided with the handing over of a brand new house worth about Sh1.5 million constructed for him by the Economic Housing Group in conjunction with the Royal Media Service following press reports that the old man had become frail and might not enjoy the fruit of his labour. There was pomp and dance as hundreds of people thronged his new home to witness the hero enter his house with his wife Zipora Meza. The house was officially opened by Governor Dado and witnessed by officials from the Economic Housing Group and Royal Media Houses. Traditional dancers and school choirs sang songs in praise of Meza’s achievements, with one school choir that was led by his first grandson, Soflace Hiribae, repeatedly singing the lullaby song whose tune has become synonymous with Kenya. Soflace in the Head teacher at Bakisano Primary School next to Mzee Meza’s new home. Bee mdondo bee, Bee mdondo bee, Akudhobee nigani, Hwende hukawabige, Wantu wa makondeni, Mwezi uwaya ng’aa. During the function, Governor Dado announced that the County Government would establish a music academy in honour of Mzee Meza in recognition of his contribution. He also announced that the nonagenarian’s home will be turned into a heritage centre in which cultures of all the communities in Tana River County will be preserved. Governor Dado said his government recognizes the role played by Mzee Galana in Kenya’s history and called for the recognition of heroes in the country. “When I was young, I heard that the tune of the National Anthem came from Tana River. That is why when I took over office as governor, I sought Mzee Meza and I have consistently wanted to improve his welfare,” he told a cheering crowd at the Bakisono Primary School. He said he started recognizing Mzee Meza as hero during the 2013 Mashujaa (Heroes) Day, in which he invited the elderly man during the celebrations held at the Mau Mau Memorial Girls Secondary School, the site where eleven freedom fighers were mercilessly murdered by colonial soldiers in 1959. “Time has come for Kenyans to fete heroes while they are alive instead of waiting till they die and then construct mausoleums and statues in their honour,” he said. He told Mzee Meza to name one of his favorite children or grandchildren to be employed by the government “without following the normal procedure because of Mzee Meza’s contribution. Galole MP Hassan Dukicha donated a 5,000-litre water tank to Mzee Meza’s new home and promised to ensure it does not run out of water.
Hon. Amb the Governor and Hon. MP for Galole, with Mr and Mrs Galana in their new home

Hon. Amb the Governor and Hon. MP for Galole, with Mr and Mrs Galana in their new home

The governor and the MP directed the area chief to post Kenya Police Reservists at the home until the county government builds a fence around the compound so the old man may live securely. In March 2014, Coast Regional Commissioner Samuel Kilele decorated the retired choir master with a Head of State Commendation (HSC). Kilele said the HSC medal had been offered and gazette by retired president Mwai Kibaki. “I have been sent by His Excellency the President to personally present this award to Mzee Galana for his contribution,” Mr. Kilele said before pinning the medal on Mzee Meza’s lapel at the Information and Documentation Centre. Mr. Kilele then presented Mzee Meza with an unknown amount of money and announced that the government would ensure that the nonagenarian spends his twilight days comfortably.  
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