President Mwai Kibaki was, by law, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Kenya during his ten-year rule between 2003 and 2013.
As the Commander-in-Chief, he was accorded the treatment of a 5-Star General, the highest military rank in Kenya, with a five-star symbol, as seen in the gun carriage being used to transport his body.
Even in death, the military honours have been accorded to the fallen leader.
As Government officials and thousands of Kenyans troop to Parliament to pay their last respects, several elements could have escaped their attention.
Next to Kibaki’s body, which lay in state in Parliament, was his ceremonial military attire. Despite not wearing the regalia in public even once, he was given the clothes upon ascending to power in late 2002.
Kibaki was the only Head of State who never wore military gear. Both his predecessors, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi, wore the uniform, same as his successor Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kibaki’s military gear, red in colour, plays a ceremonial role. He could wear the camouflage battle fatigues had he chosen to, something President Uhuru Kenyatta has been doing.
The ceremonial uniform is decorated with aiguillette, lanyards, medals, gold presidential chains and a variety of belts befitting a Commander-in-Chief.
A military expert and former KDF member, who spoke to The Standard in confidence, pointed out that the red tunic is the official ceremonial uniform used by the President.
“The red tunic is the ceremonial uniform. The President is a 5-Star General, meaning that he’s the senior-most military official, and members of the military are his juniors. The military hierarchy starts with the Kenya Army, followed by the Kenya Air Force and the Kenya Navy. Tradition has dictated that the Commander-in-Chief must put on colours of the major wing of the force, which is the Kenya Army,” he said.
During his reign, Kibaki was not photographed wearing military gear. It was only during the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution in August that he wore the gold chain.
President Kenyatta, while announcing the death of Kibaki on April 22, said: “President Mwai Kibaki shall be accorded a State Funeral, with full military honours and protocols being rendered and observed.”
Kibaki enjoyed playing golf and was a member of the Muthaiga Golf Club. His love for the sport seems evident in his death.
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Just like the military gear, a golf club was placed next to his body. It could be one of the many golf clubs that he owned.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, while eulogising the former President, said: “Mwai Kibaki was an astute golfer and patron of the Kenya Gold Union. He was a member of Muthaiga Golf Club from May 1, 1988. He played a major role in the development of golf in the country and through him, Kenya received many accolades in the sport of golf.”
Former President Kibaki was among 12 individuals inducted into the Kenya Open Golf Hall of Fame in 2018.
Once his body is interred on Saturday, April 30 in Othaya, Nyeri County, his white presidential standard will be handed over to his family.