Kenya: Foes, Friends Unite in Kenyatta State of the Nation Address

President Uhuru Kenyatta delivering his State of the Nation Address at Parliament Buildings on April 4, 2019.

It was President Uhuru Kenyatta's 7th State of the Nation address to a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate since he was elected to office in March 2013.

As usual, the expectations were high as the President's motorcade sandwiched by outriders snaked its way through the city to Parliament Road at about 2:31pm.

Here, the President inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Army in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief.

Thereafter, he was received by Speakers Justin Muturi (National Assembly) and Kenneth Lusaka (Senate), as well as Mr Lusaka's deputy Kithure Kindiki, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, his minority colleague John Mbadi and Senate's Minority Whip Irungu Kang'ata.

He would then proceed to the Senate lounge where he was briefed by the leadership of the two Houses.

DIGNITARIES

At exactly 2:55pm he made his way to the chamber of the National Assembly led by both House's sergeants-at-arms with their two maces, which symbolise parliamentary authority, and escorted by the two Speakers.

The address took exactly 67 minutes, having started at 3:04pm.

At the Speakers gallery, there was Deputy President William Ruto, Chief Justice David Maraga, 15 Cabinet secretaries, Attorney-General Paul Kariuki, Solicitor-General Ken Ogeto and opposition leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi.

Also present were Chief of Defence Forces Samson Mwathethe, army generals and outgoing Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet as well as foreign envoys.

Mr Muturi acknowledged the presence of former speakers Francis ole Kaparo (National Assembly) and Ekwe Ethuro (Senate) before he invited the President to make his address.

NOTE-TAKING

During the President's speech, some were busy taking notes while others were either engrossed in their smart phones, dozing or delivering sporadic applause.

Among the Cabinet secretaries who were busy following and taking notes were Prof Margaret Kobia (Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs), Amina Mohamed (Sports), Keriako Tobiko (Environment and Natural Resources) and Raychelle Omamo (Defence).

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior, Mr Duale (MP, Garissa Township) and Mr Mbadi (MP, Suba South) led the group of attentive MPs who followed the speech complete with pen and paper.

Others were MPs Simba Arati (Dagoretti North), Lilian Gogo (Rangwe), James Nyikal (Seme), Mishi Mboko (Likoni), Jared Okello (Nyando), Godfrey Osotsi (nominated) and Kisumu Woman Representative Rosa Buyu.

TABICHI

At the end of the address, the two Houses proceeded on their respective short recesses. The National Assembly is expected back on April 23 and the Senate on April 19.

The President paid tribute to a number of citizens who have made exemplary contribution to the country, including veteran marathoner Eliud Kipchoge and others who continue to make "our national anthem echo around capitals of the world".

Mr Peter Tabichi, who was recently voted the best teacher in the world, also got special mention.

"He has demonstrated our aspiration and potential to deliver world-class education standards," President Kenyatta said.

HEROES

He also mentioned the country's entrepreneurs and business leaders who are moving the economy forward.

Leading the pack of innovators was Mr Roy Allela, who garnered global accolades for inventing smart gloves that convert sign language movement into audio speech.

"I thank all of the men and women who serve the republic in whatever capacity, who uphold our values and our way of life, who defer to what is right, who show that our diversity is an asset and all those who have paid the ultimate price to secure our freedoms and way of life," the President said.

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