Wanjiku pens first signature for law change followed by Uhuru, Raila

Emily Wanjiku, the first citizen to append a signature during the launch of the collection of signatures for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) at KICC in Nairobi on November 25, 2020. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

To create 'people-driven' symbolism for the proposed law changes, the organisers of the BBI referendum signature launch picked on a Wanjiku to set the ball rolling.

At the ceremony held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) grounds in Nairobi, a city-based businesswoman, Emily Wanjiku became the first Kenyan to append her signature to the proposed constitutional changes.

'Wanjiku', a reference to the ordinary Kenyan coined by former President Daniel arap Moi, has morphed into a catchphrase and is used whenever national bread and butter issues are being discussed.

Perhaps to create the impression that the planned referendum is about improving the lives of ordinary Kenyans, the organisers chose Wanjiku to endorse it before leaders did so.

After Wanjiku had appended her signature, Dennis Waweru, the Master of Ceremony and former Dagoretti South MP who is also the co-chair of the BBI Secretariat, called on others to sign.

Second, to sign was Joseph Wambai from North Rift who was followed by Nantano Nampara and Edward Wekesa.

Political party leaders and key political figures, including President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, followed suit.

There was, however, no representative of the religious organisations as various religious leaders have publicly opposed some of the changes.

Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi also signed in support of the document.

He had, during the launch at Bomas of Kenya, raised issues with several sections of the proposed changes.

Other leaders who signed during the launch included Gideon Moi (Kanu), Isaac Ruto (Chama Cha Mashinani), Alfred Mutua (Maendeleo Chap Chap), Council of Governors chair Wycliffe Oparanya, Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli, Governor Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and Charity Ngilu.

Wiper deputy party leader, Farah Maalim signed on behalf of Kalonzo, who was out of the country.

Ford Kenya got the honour of being the only party whose leadership signed twice.

Waweru first called Wafula Wamunyinyi and later called Moses Wetangula.

The two have been fighting over the control of the lion party.

Kenyatta and Raila were the last to append their signatures before they took to the podium to defend the push to amend the 2010 Constitution.

The event was different from the first and second launch of the document at Bomas of Kenya, where speeches were given.

In the previous events, several guests shared their views on the process, including those opposed to it.

There were light moments when Kenyatta disclosed how insults by some online users forced him out of Twitter in 2019.

“Ata Twitter niliondoka huko nikaona hii kitu ni bure ni matusi tu hakuna kitu inaendelea huko (I even decided to leave twitter because I realised it is useless, just insults and nothing else),” said Kenyatta amid laughter.

After his speech, Raila took to the podium and briefly danced to Lucky Dube's “Nobody can stop reggea” song before he was joined by President Kenyatta.

The event had a limited number of guests due to Covid-19 health protocols.