State security agents had a rough time clearing nearly 5,000 delegates for the Mt Kenya leaders’ convention at the Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri County. The delegates from ten counties in central Kenya and the diaspora were at the lodge for what has been called the Sagana 3 meeting to find convergence on the Building Bridges Initiative.
The day started as early as 6am with delegates streaming into the neatly arranged tents in the State-run lodge that sits on the edge of Mt Kenya. Every attendant except the dozens allowed to use the lone VIP gate had to pass through a metal detector. At the main entrance to the lodge, scores of delegates–some who donned traditional attire - were briefly frisked by security officers before proceeding to the overflowing hall.
Mike Rua, Samido, Joyce Wamama, Heze Ndung’u, Martin wa Janet, Jose Gatutura and a cast of Gikuyu gospel singers provided entertainment before the meeting started. Legislators including National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya streamed into the venue where Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui was the MC. An unexpected guest was former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu.
Other guests, who surpassed the invited 4,500 delegates, included political, religious and opinion leaders, Kikuyu council of elders, women groups and the youth. They were served a sumptuous breakfast from Safari Park Hotel, which had been contracted as the official caterer.
Unlike what happens during other presidential functions, the delegates were allowed to mingle and hang around the gardens with minimal interference from the usually hawk-eyed presidential guards. Residents who were not allowed to get into the venue listened to the speeches from the fence at the periphery of the State lodge. They were joined by media personalities who were also barred from the main venue.
The President’s hour-long speech that was delivered in Kikuyu received cheers from the delegates and residents who agreed with his sentiments on the region’s unity. Traders made a kill selling BBI-branded hats and T-shirts. “I have earned more than Sh5,000 from hats. Business was easy with relaxed security. I look forward to making more money before the President’s tour ends,” said John Wanjohi.
Constitutional reform expert Tom Macharia took the meeting through a talk on why Mt Kenya should not gamble on BBI. He told the delegates that the only insurance for the region are strong constitutional provisions because there is a likelihood the region could be staring at a long period out of the presidency.