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Kenyans usher in 2011 in style as Kibaki urges calm

BUSINESS
By | January 1st 2011

By Boniface Ongeri

Scores of Kenyans gathered at various venues last evening to bid 2010 farewell and welcome the New Year.

In his end of year address, President Kibaki wished Kenyans a prosperous 2011 and outlined the Government’s achievements last year.

He called for calm despite the International Criminal Court (ICC) process seeking justice for victims of the 2002-2008 post-election violence.

Thousands of partygoers trooped to various joints to usher in the New Year in style. One of the venues at the KICC was dubbed the official New Year party.

However, some like Pastor Richard Odhiambo of Jesus Revival Worship Centre in Kiambiu, said he would be leading faithful for an overnight vigil to pray for prosperous New Year.

Mr Isaac Bosire, from Kayole estate, said he would welcome 2011 with his family. "We hope it will be a promising year," he said.

In North Eastern Province many residents usually dismiss New Years’ celebration, and many said this would not be different.

"It will be a normal night. Many of us will be sleeping. It has no significance at all to me," said Mr Shebe Mohammed, a resident of Wajir.

The Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) Wajir Branch Secretary Sheikh Abduwahab Mursal said residents don’t recognise the New Year, but respect those who mark it.

"We have only two celebrations in our calendar, marking the end of fasting and the journey to Mecca for the annual Muslim pilgrimage. That is the period we even slaughter animals to mark the day," he said.

He said going by the Muslim calendar the faithful started the New Year in early December. "Our New Year, which is called Muharap, usually starts at the end of Hajj pilgrimage," he said.

Hundreds of revellers, especially Christians, flooded KICC to welcome the New Year. Tanzanian musicians Marion Shusho and Rose Mhando was expected to grace the event organised by mobile service provider Safaricom. By 4pm yesterday hundreds of fans had started flocking the venue.

Low business

Several hotels and discos had also planned a night vigil to welcome the year. The streets of Nairobi recorded low activities during the day, but by evening residents were either rushing home or visiting various venues to mark the day.

Unlike on Christmas Eve when traders recorded brisk business, several business showed low purchase. An attendant at Tuskys supermarket along Muindi Mbingu said people’s spending had dropped drastically.

Banks also said the day was slow compared to others. Europe, which usually stages spectacular shows to welcome the New Year, is expected to have less of the cheer due to heavy snow. The snow has also affected transport. Flights have either been postponed or cancelled altogether.

While Kenya was waiting to usher the New Year at midnight, countries like Australia and China welcomed the new dawn several hours earlier.

News agencies reported vast crowds in Sydney, Australia, welcomed the New Year in a blaze of fireworks described as the city’s best party since the 2000 Olympics.

Celebrations kicked off with aerial displays by vintage aircraft and a parade of 50 illuminated boats, while spectators set up foldout chairs, picnic blankets and inflatable beds, culminating in a 13-minute fireworks extravaganza accompanied by a synchronised soundtrack.

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