Mashujaa Day marked with pomp and colour
By Wainaina Ndung'u
| October 20th 2021
With little crowds and a short programme, the Mashujaa Day fete at Wang'uru ran like clockwork.
Guests started streaming into the Wang'uru Stadium in Mwea as early as 6.00 am under strict vetting.
Those attending were required to have an invitation card to access the stadium refurbished at Sh350 million.
Under the Covid-19 regulations and drawing from the experience of the post-Madaraka Day 2021 at Kisumu, which experienced a worrying spike in infections, only 3,000 guests were allowed into the stadium.
The seats were adequately spaced, and most of them remained unoccupied.
At Gate Six, uniformed Recce Squad officers manning the gates kicked out two plainclothes police officers who arrived in the company of a uniformed colleague, despite showing their job cards. The uniformed colleague was allowed into the stadium, but those in civilian remained outside.
There was a huge squad of entertainment troupes in two larger tents and a performance stage erected in the middle of the stadium.
Members of the organised choirs sat with gospel musicians such as Martin wa Janet and Susan Kimunyi and secular counterparts such as DJ Faxto, Sammy Muchoki, Joyce wa Mama, Joseph Kariuki and Peter Kigia wa Esther.
When AP Utawala Band played “Stella", a white donned Akorino gospel group stood up to dance.
And when it started drizzling, journalists scampered to a nearby tent to take shelter, with some leaving their equipment unmanned. However, the rain stopped, and the dark cloud that had covered the sky cleared.
A printed official programme was part of the grandiose Kirinyaga PR dream, with an intricate overview of one of Kenya's smallest counties by landmass and population. The county covers about 1,478.1 square kilometres or about 2.5 per cent of Kenya.
The county population stands at 610,411 persons, with a population density of 413 persons per kilometre.
According to the programme, Mwea rice production is 11,400 metric tonnes valued at Sh9.69 billion. Kirinyaga is the largest tomato producer in the country, producing 63,000 tonnes on about 3,500 hectares valued at Sh1.6 billion annually.
The entry of Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga was notable.
He retreated to the presidential reception room for a few minutes before taking his seat.
At 11.20 am, Deputy President William Ruto, flanked by his wife Rachael Ruto, arrived and ascended the stairs.
He greeted the first few governors and cabinet secretaries on the first row, who included Muthomi Njuki and Dr Fred Matiang'i using the Indian Namaste sign.
He then gave a fist bump to Speakers Justin Muturi (NA) and Ken Lusaka (Senate).
When it came to Raila, Musalia Mudavadi and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, it was all handshake.
Ruto almost immediately disembarked to receive Malawian President Lazurus Chakwera and First Lady Monicah Chakwera.
President Uhuru Kenyatta arrived at 11.30 am.
As he ascended the stairs, his greetings were more animated. Elbow bumps with most of those at the front row and warm hugs for Chakwera and Raila. A more lingering exchange with Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua.
There were anxious moments such as when his press corps blocked his path twice as he greeted the front row.
As usual, President Uhuru enjoyed the musical entertainment. But he missed most of it except the gospel presentation at the end, which he even saluted.
And as the ceremony came to a close, guests went home.
Kirinyaga Anglican Bishop Joseph Kibucwa, who led in the opening prayers, had asked that their pockets are filled so that they could purchase rice, tomatoes and other produce from the farms within the county.
Additional reporting by Ndungu Gachane.
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