The 59th Jamhuri Day celebrations began with the consecration, presentation, and trooping of the colours by the Kenya Defence Forces’ 23rd Mechanised Infantry Battalion (MIB).
General Robert Kibochi, Chief of Defence Forces, invited Anglican Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit, Meru Catholic Bishop Salesius Mugambi, and Deputy Chief Kadhi Sheikh Sukyan Hassan Omar to bless the flags.
President William Ruto attended the symbolic ceremony alongside Gen Kibochi, Kenya Army Commander Lt Gen Peter Njiru, Kenya Air Force Commander Maj Gen John Omenda, and Kenya Navy Commander Maj Gen Jimson Mutai.
The President presented the battalion with the flag while the KDF band sang songs in celebration of their new status.
This is a significant change for the Eight Infantry Brigade, as the 23 MIB will now receive more support, including mechanised capabilities such as the use of Armoured Infantry fighting vehicles.
The 23 MIB is a unit of the Eight Mechanised Infantry Battalion based in Karare, Marsabit county.
When the battalion received its flag, it marched across the stadium in a formation led by the Kenya Army, followed by the Kenya Air Force and Kenya Navy, and accompanied by a military band belting out tunes.
The KDF capped its ceremonial display with a fly-past of a formation of Kenya Air Force jets, with pilots displaying their skills and one of them carrying a banner reading ‘Hongera Kenya’ in recognition of the country’s 59th year of independence.
Thousands of members of the public arrived at the Nyayo National Stadium at 6am and it was completely packed by 9am in anticipation of the innovation and technology-themed ceremony.
Long lines formed outside the stadium gates as Kenyans went through security checks conducted by the police and KDF before being allowed in.
A race featuring athletes and creative artists was held to entertain those in attendance. Some of them appeared unfit to compete in athletics with 100m champion Ferdinand Omanyala.
A choir of 1,000 Nyeri county women dressed in yellow dresses and green headgear performed Agikuyu songs in praise of President Ruto and Deputy Rigathi Gachagua’s development agenda.
A youth choir of about 500 members, some dressed in traditional regalia and others in modern garb, entertained guests with songs in Iteso, Kuria, Gusii, and Luo, and later in Kiswahili and English, which enthralled the audience.
Pupils from Nairobi’s public primary schools, dressed in T-shirts with the colours of the national flag - black, white, green, and red - and holding umbrellas, cheered as the president and other dignitaries arrived and the entertainment segment began.
Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja arrived at 9.25am, followed by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula and Senate Speaker Amason Kingi.
Others in attendance included Prime CS Musalia Mudavadi, accompanied by his wife Tessie.
President Ruto and First Lady Rachel were greeted by Chief of Defence Forces Gen Kibochi, who then escorted them to the ceremonial vehicle and led them around the stadium to acknowledge public greetings.
Chief Justice Martha Koome, members of the diplomatic corps and other dignitaries were also present. They later proceeded to State House for a luncheon hosted by the President.
Former President Uhuru Kenyatta skipped the event. Also missing were opposition leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Martha Karua and most of their allies.