Kenya: Uhuru Kenyatta Leads Kenya in Marking 55 Years of Self-Rule

12 December 2018

Kenya on Wednesday marked 55 years after attaining its independence from Britain in 1963.

The national celebrations, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta, were being held at Nyayo stadium in the capital Nairobi.

Mr Kenyatta, the commander-in-chief of Kenya's Defence Forces, for the first time sported full military regalia during a national function.

Mr Kenyatta arrived in style, dressed in the official and ceremonial Kenya Army full service red tunic for five-star general, inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Defence Forces.

The symbolic dressing signalled the task ahead for the commander-in-chief: Presentation of presidential colours and honours to Kenya Army's 17 Battalion.

He is the third Kenyan president to preside over a national event in full military uniform, after his father and Kenya's founding President Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi, Mzee Jomo's successor.

Mr Kenyatta's predecessor Mwai Kibaki (2003-2013) did not appear in public in any military regalia.

The president also held a sword in his left hand as he inspected the guard of honour.

Still holding the sword, Mr Kenyatta, in yet another unusual gesture, saluted before shaking hands with opposition leaders and his bitter rival in 2018 elections Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula.

Unlike last year when the turnout was very low, the stands at Nyayo Stadium were full even before the guests arrived, signalling a huge interest in the national holiday compared to other years

After the guard of honour, the Kenya Army 17 Battalion was presented with the presidential colours and given the honours to troop its own.

The 17 Battalion is a unit in the Kenya Army born in 2009, and in 2010, the unit colour was approved to be purple.

When a unit or base is designated to troop its colour, it becomes an honour to the regiment/base as it is able to showcase its colours in a ceremony known as Trooping Of The Colour, the Kenya Defence Forces explained in a statement.

The presidential colour is trooped on special days such as Jamhuri Day.

In the ceremony, the colours are marched in under escort of the colour party to the edge of parade.

It is ceremoniously received by the unit/regimental/base sergeant major who hands over the colours to the colour officers.

During trooping, every soldier on parade has a close view of the colour as it passes while paying the highest possible honour by presenting arms in salute.

In military tradition, the whole ceremony is one of symbolic trust given to a unit/base.

Besides the main event in the capital, Jamhuri Day was also marked in Kenya's 47 counties.

In Kiambu County, the well-attended celebrations were held at Thika stadium.

The colourful event was led by the provincial administration, headed by the county commissioner Wilson Wanyanga.

Area Governor Ferdinand Waititu and area MP Patrick Wainaina also attended the event.

Mr Waititu urged Kiambu residents to assist the less fortunate during this festive season and live in harmony.

In Narok, County Commissioner George Natembeya said testing of school girls will be mandatory when the schools re-open in January.

This, he said, is meant “to curb teenage pregnancies”, without giving details.

He also thanked the residents for cooperating with the security agencies by surrendering illegally acquired firearms in a bid to stem insecurity.

In Laikipia, the celebrations were held at Rumuruti stadium and were led by Governor Murithi Nderitu and County Commissioner Onesmus Mutisya.

In Nakuru, Governor Lee Kinyanjui officiated the function at Afraha Stadium.

Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia led the fete at Kipipiri stadium where calls for compensation of Mau Mau war veterans dominated.

Reports by Patrick Langat, Kennedy Kimathi, Mary Wambui, George Sayagie, Steve Njuguna, Waikwa Maina, Joseph Openda and Harry Misiko

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