How Kenya’s National Prayer Breakfast came to be

Attendees holding one another for prayer during a previous National Prayer Breakfast.Photo: Courtesy.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is on Thursday expected to lead the country in the National Prayer Breakfast at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.

More than 3000 people are expected to attend the annual event that aims at putting the Nation before God. Political and religious leaders across the board will grace the event, thanks to the Handshake.

The 2019 prayer event came with a surprise as the political nemesis of 2017 General Election, President Uhuru, his deputy Ruto and Opposition Leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Muyoka, buried the hatchet.

Definitely, a lot has changed owing to the simmering rivalry between DP Ruto and ODM leader Raila that is if the prevailing verbal attacks are anything to go by.

From left, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.2019 National Prayer Breakfast at Safari Park. Photo: Courtesy.

The bottom-line is the fact that the prayer event is not a preserve of Christians, Muslims or Hindus but for the Nation.

The main motive is to ensure men and women men in leadership owe their privileges and responsibilities before God.

As the nation prepares for the event, the history behind its establishment paints a picture of a function that has stood the test of time not only in Kenya but also in the US.

How it started

It dates back in 1987 when Kalonzo Musyoka, then Assistant Minister-cum-Deputy Speaker, was first invited for 34th US National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC.

However, it's until 1988 when Moses Keino, then Speaker, met friends who attended the event that he became intrigued by how political nemesis and non-church leaders could gather for a prayer event.

After influencing then President Daniel Moi to attend the event early 1990, Keino began luring his Parliamentary friends to start prayer fellowship groups.

But the event was short-lived. Thanks to the heated political turbulence of multiparty democracy. Several unsuccessful attempts followed.

But it is in 2002 that the idea resurfaced yet again. When David Musila was first elected to Parliament he began to structure parliamentary prayer fellowship groups that included, among others, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka.

Important to note, at that time President Uhuru, then official Opposition Leader had been invited to attend the 50th Washington National Prayer Breakfast.

Members of Parliament singing at a past National Prayer Breakfast. Photo: Courtesy.

And because of the political stability that had preceded the 2002 elections, the little Parliamentary Prayer Groups that held their prayer meetings at Boulevard Hotel and Muthaiga Country Club birthed the first Kenya National Prayer Event. With the Current Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka becoming the chairman of the organization.

The date of the event was set for the first Saturday before Madaraka – 2003 but changed to the last Thursday of May preceding Madaraka Day.

The event was marked by a few hundreds of people at the time of its inauguration. But as time went by, the number grew prompting the change of location several times as hotels could not accommodate thousands of attendees.

Among the spellbinding speakers who have graced the events in the past include, Former President Kaunda of Zambia, President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, Our own Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai, Zimbambwean telecommunication magnate Strive Masiyiwa among other dignitaries of no mean repute.