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National hero who rescued friends from deadly school fire honoured

A girl who sustained fatal burn wounds while rescuing her schoolmates during Moi Girls School fire tragedy was on Friday recognized as a hero by President Uhuru Kenyatta during the Mashujaa Day celebrations.

Mary Mokaya, 16, who paid for her selfless act with life, was hailed by the president as a national hero.

President Kenyatta said her actions during the tragedy provide lessons for Kenyans to ponder upon during the ongoing events in the country.

“May her name and her example of selflessness be a shining example to us all. At a tender age of 16, she sacrificed herself for the sake of others. Mary’s courage and great acts will remain in our hearts and all of us should use her great example of thinking about others before self,” President Kenyatta said during his speech to the nation.

Mokaya and another student June Chepkemboi took it upon themselves to awaken their colleagues as the raging flames spread through the dormitory known as Purple that night killing nine girls.

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Her act was hailed by the survivors who thanked her for waking them up and ending up with 66 per cent burns.

Mary, sustained 66 per cent burns during the tragedy and succumbed to her injuries at the hospital.

Others who were recognized during the national celebrations include Joseph Kyalo Karissa who donated 2 acres of family land for the construction of Jimba Water Plant which now serves 5,000 people and over 40,000 livestock with reliable water supply.

Nobel Laureate and environmental and political activist Professor Wangari Mathai, academic professor and political writer Professor Ali Mazrui and the country’s sportsmen and women were also recognized for their work in the country.

This year’s Mashujaa Day celebrations comes seven years after the promulgation of the new constitution which renamed what was previously known as Kenyatta Day to Mashujaa Day in honour of Kenyan heroes.