Kenya: All Eyes in Kisii - Will Kenyatta, Odinga Talk BBI

20 October 2020

Nairobi — Kenya is celebrating its heroes who selflessly fought for independence.

The celebrations known as Mashujaa Day are being held at the Gusii Stadium in Kisii where hundreds of dignitaries are expected to attend, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto, Opposition chief Raila Odinga among others.

With the country thrown into a political mode in the recent weeks, fuelled by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and strained relations between Kenyatta and Ruto, Kenyans are eager to see what the president says.

His meetings in the recent past with political leaders signal the unveiling of the BBI report either at the Mashujaa Day celebrations or before the end of the week, sources already indicating that if it will not be released today, unveiling will be done tomorrow.

"It can't go past tomorrow if you don't hear about it today," one source in Kenyatta's circle said, "the BBI report is report is ready."

And Kenyans are also keen to hear what Kenyatta and Ruto says of their strained relations, which have seen the Deputy President engage in a full presidential campaign mode with his Hustler Nation movement which has angered Kenyatta and his close associates, because the seat is far from being declared vacant.

On Monday, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said "We are fully prepared and all is set for the celebrations.

"Everything is in place," Kibicho said, "all the security arrangements are also well in place."

Kisii Governor James Ongwae too said the county is prepared to host the celebrations, the first national day public gathering to be held since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the country in March.

Ongwae said his administration in collaboration with the national government had set up the necessary measures to ensure the COVID-19 safety protocols are observed.

"You are all welcome to Kisii, the land of matoke (bananas). Remember that this country came into being because of our heroes," he said.

The celebrations will be the first major national event for the region which was initially poised to host the Madaraka Day celebrations in June but the event was shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I thank the President for leading us in implementing measures which have seen the reduction in the rate of infections of COVID-19 and for honouring the pledge to hold this national event in Kisii," Ongwae said.

The commemoration of the event which is held rotationally has so far been held in the counties of Mombasa, Nakuru, Machakos, Narok, Kakamega, Nyeri and Meru.

Interior Principal Secretary Kibicho said all the infrastructural requirements for the event are in place.

"We have been in the region for weeks trying to ensure that the infrastructure is ready. The national celebrations committee composed of my colleagues has done a great job to ensure that the day turns out to be a success," he said Monday.

Only 3,000 invited guests will be allowed into the Gusii Stadium due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

Kibicho said the decision was made due to the COVID- 19 pandemic that has forced everyone, including the government to adopt a 'new normal.'

"Therefore, as we host this national day we will ensure that we follow all COVID-19 protocols, so that it cannot become a problem as we celebrate, therefore the usual hosting of crowds, usual display of kids, scouts will be missed during this year's celebrations but we will ensure that our Mashujaa get the dignity they deserve in our celebrations," he said.

He added that already the government has placed mounted screens in strategic locations to allow the residents to follow the proceedings outside the stadium and its environs.

President Kenyatta is expected to lead the nation in the fete also known as the Heroes' Day that is commemorated to honor all those who contributed towards the struggle for Kenya's independence or positively contributed in the post-independence Kenya.

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