As Kenyans marked Mashujaa Day on Sunday celebrating their own personal heroes, the State too did its part in honoring its citizens for their distinguished service to the nation.

Among the hundreds of Kenyans who received the Head of State award was Eliud Kipchoge, the first human being to run a marathon under two hours.

The marathon legend became the first athlete to be feted with the Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart, Kenya’s highest civilian honour.

While Eliud was deserving of the award, Kenyans have in the recent past questioned how some past recipients, such as ‘Githeriman’, Dennis Itumbi, and others qualified for such honors.

There’s also the question of what privileges and entitlements come with a head of state award.

Well, according to the National Heroes Act, a person recognised as a national hero or heroine is entitled to:

  • Invitations to national and community functions as a state guest.
  • Having cultural festivals, concerts, exhibitions and sports events organised in their honour.
  • Having towns, institutions, open parks in urban areas, roads, streets, estates, stamps and notable landmarks named after them.
  • Award of medals, insignia, commendations, certificates and such other commemorative as may be determined by the Heroes Council from time to time.
  • Issuance of such postage stamps, scarves, mementos, utensils, apparel and artefacts as may be determined by the Council from time to time.
  • Publication of books depicting their respective roles in Kenya’s history or the social life of the society, which shall be part of the educational curriculum.
  • Being accorded financial assistance from the National Heroes Fund where their economic circumstances warrant such assistance.

Additionally, the government may, from time to time, accord national heroes who are in need of assistance:

  • The highest attainable standard of healthcare services, including reproductive healthcare
  • Accessible and adequate housing and reasonable standards of sanitation;
  • Adequate food of acceptable quality;
  • Clean and safe water in adequate quantities;
  • Social security;
  • Free education for their dependants of school-going age up to tertiary level;
  • Free transport to public functions to which they are invited within the country; and
  • Employment opportunities for their dependents who have relevant qualifications.

The award lists are made by the President on advice of the National Honours and Awards Committee.

Individuals are nominated for awards by district committees, government ministries, religious organisations, non-governmental organisations, individuals and others.

The National Honours Act 2013 provides that a person shall merit the conferment of a national honour if that person “has made an exemplary contribution to the country or a county in the economic, social, scientific, academic, public administration, governance, sports, journalism, business, security or other fields”, or when he “has otherwise brought honour, glory or pride to the Republic”.