Dance, clash of colours and long wait at Azimio's big day

ODM leader Raila Odinga gives his remarks at the Azimio La Umoja coalition's National Delegates Conference at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi City County. 

The delegates were at the Tsavo Ballroom of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) as early as 8am. Some came earlier than that. They sat and waited.

At the entrance, a band was on hand to usher the delegates into the venue using the entrance on City Hall Way.

The band played like a score accompanying desperate supporters who begged security officers to let them in. But the Azimio la Umoja National Delegates Conference had not started at 10am; the programme was running behind schedule. 

There wasn't anything delegates could do about this, so they danced. They danced as they waited for the men of the day-ODM leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta-to show up. 

They danced to all songs. There were Somali, Luo, Kisii, Kikuyu and Luhya songs. They all sounded nice. 

There is a proverb from the Igbo of Nigeria that encourages restraint. As a cautionary tale, the proverb narrates the plight of the antelope who danced himself lame before the main job was yet to come.

But to the supporters of Azimio, this was the main dance. Raila would be unveiled as the party's flag bearer.

The master of ceremony at one point termed it a historic moment.

"In 150 years, the history books will read that you and the person sitting next to you were in the room the moment the history of Kenya changed."

Tsavo Hall was a cacophony of colours. The front was decked in blue from the curtains at the podium and the ribbon on the seats.

Then there were the orange hats of ODM, and Jubilee and UDM with their shades of red. Azimio la Umoja, Wiper, DAP and UPA each with their own blue. There were also yellow, white and green hats and scarves.

Sleeveless jacket were ubiquitous and those who didn't own one already could buy them from vendors who weaved through the rows of seats.

Nonetheless, the palpable excitement in the room and clash of colours had an appeal to it like a rainbow breaking across the sky.

This was instructive because Azimio la Umoja has built itself on that unity of colours, of regions and communities.

It was the reason the organisers insisted on having a music playlist from almost all regions of Kenya.

A Samburu artist performed on stage. Delegates who were unfamiliar to King Khalid, Halimo Gobaad or Awaale Adan moved their bodies to the sound of Somali music.

The hardest job of the day was arguably that of MC Mdomo Baggy, who had the tough task of ensuring that the restless crowd was entertained.

But as the mid-morning turned to afternoon, the long wait sapped the energy of the room and the dancers reduced to a handful.

 contrast to Jubilee's NDC at the same venue two weeks ago, only a few invited guests were invited into Azimio's NDC.

The official number from the organisers was 300 people. However, the number was higher. Tsavo Ballroom was three quarters full with the seats placed close to each other.

The meeting came the day after the Ministry of Health dropped mask mandates and with hardly a mask on anyone's face, or a temperature check or hand washing station on site, it could have been February 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic hit Kenya.