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Annual State address of a kind

By Wilfred Ayaga | Nov 13th 2020 | 2 min read
President Uhuru Kenyatta during the State of the Nation address event in Parliament. [Photo: Standard]

Yesterday’s unique State of the Nation address was a stark reminder of the new realities brought by the covid-19 pandemic.

Ordinarily, the day would have seen the House packed to the rafters, with legislators jostling for vantage positions in the front row, perhaps to catch the president's eye.

MPs would exchange hugs, hearty handshakes and the occasional high fives and toothy grins as they caught up on issues and exchanged pleasantries.

Instead, the now-familiar bow, elbow bump and clenched fist bump (kugota, to borrow street parlance) were used among the leaders as a form of greeting.

Inside the chamber, the MPs sat metres apart, while others took up seats in tents erected outside.

To avoid physical contact, there were no handshakes, no high fives and the grins, if any, were exchanged behind masked faces.

All guests, in keeping with covid-19 containment measures, were expected to sanitise before making their way into the chambers, where they sat in strict observance to social distancing rules.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, dressed in a grey suit, white shirt and blue tie arrived at exactly 2 pm.

He proceeded to inspect a guard of honour, with the army band capturing the mood of the day with Christs Ambassador’s song, 'Kwetu Pazuri'.

The song offers hope that there is a better world after this earthly life.

However, the mood at the function was not entirely sombre, tense and boring. Narok Senator, Ledama Ole kina lit the chamber when he showed up dressed in cultural Maasai attire for the second consecutive day.

On Tuesday, the legislator had caused a stir in the Senate with the attire, prompting Speaker Kenneth Lusaka to make a ruling on its appropriateness.  

And yesterday, he took full advantage of the speaker’s ruling that endorsed traditional, religious and cultural attire in the chambers by turning up in his red shuka on a day the entire country was glued to the president’s speech.  

All those present, including Cabinet Secretaries, diplomats and other dignitaries in the gallery, too, observed social distancing.

To honour those who have succumbed to Covid-19, the House observed a one-minute silence

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