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Mashujaa Day: Only 3,000 guests allowed into the stadium for fete

Ben Githae during this year's Mashujaa Day celebrations at Wanguru Stadium, Kirinyaga County on October 20, 2021 [Elvis Ogina, Standard[

With small crowds and a short programme, the Mashujaa Day fete ran like clockwork.

Guests who started streaming into the Wang'uru Stadium in Mwea as early as 6.00am underwent thorough vetting.

Those attending were required to have an invitation card to access the stadium that had been refurbished at a cost of Sh350 million.

Under the Covid-19 regulations and drawing from the experience of the post-Madaraka Day celebrations in 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.

When the dignitaries started making their way, it was Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga who arrived first.

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 some 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 (National Assembly) and Ken Lusaka (Senate).

When he got to Raila, Musalia Mudavadi and Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, he proffered a handshake, which was warmly received.

President Uhuru Kenyatta arrived at 11.30 am.

DJ Fatso during this year's Mashujaa Day celebration at Wanguru Stadium, Kirinyaga County in October 20, 2021 [Elvis Ogina, Standard[

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.

At Gate Six, uniformed Recce Squad officers manning the gates denied two plainclothes police officers entry. The two had arrived in the company of a uniformed colleague, and despite showing their job cards, only the uniformed colleague was allowed into the stadium.

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 the 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 for shelter, with some leaving their equipment unmanned. The rains subsided a short while later, and the dark cloud that had covered the skies 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.

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.

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