NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 27- As the 21-gun salute went off and the jumbo flag hoisted, tears flowed freely among Kenyans who had braved the morning drizzle at Uhuru Park to witness the historic promulgation of the new Constitution.
Those interviewed by Capital News termed the colourful ceremony a unifying moment and asked politicians to shelve their differences in opinion so as to ensure the contents of the new Constitution were implemented.
“We want a new Kenya; we passed the new Constitution and we now want real change. Time for fooling around is up… time for tribalism is up. Leaders who are not with us are against us and we will not vote them in,” said one Kenyan.
Others commended the country’s top leadership for unifying the country and for passing the new law. George Otieno asked Kenyans to remain peaceful and keep watch over the implementation process.
“I was here by 6:30am and my message to Kenyans would be to maintain peace and forget about the petty tribal differences. The police should also remember that they need to protect and respect human rights especially with the passing of the new laws. We know what we need to do and we must ensure that it is done,” he said.
After the signing of the new law by President Mwai Kibaki, the mood in the air went from excitement to ecstatic with a fresh touch of optimism among Kenyans. And for Isaac Kipruto the long and tiresome search for a new Constitution had finally come to an end.
“We would always hear that a Constitution was being made and leaders would give us promises (regarding new laws) that were never honoured. But it has finally come and I am so proud to be a Kenyan. It is a great moment for the country and I am glad it has come in my lifetime,” he said.
Local celebrities who came in their droves were also not left behind in the celebrations. Their common call to fellow Kenyans was that they should never allow themselves to get caught up in the murk of tribal politics.
Genge artist Jua Kali commended Kenyans for their efforts and asked them to focus on issue based politics. He also asked the country\’s leadership not to tolerate the impunity that had taken toll of the country for so long.
“Kenyans should work hard and not give up. 2012 will soon be with us and we will be required to go to the ballot again and choose our leaders so let us remain peaceful and ensure we get leaders that our great nation deserves,” he said.
Award winner Emmy Kosgei also expressed her excitement and joy for the country saying that Kenyans\’ real test would be the implementation stage.
“We were here by 6:30 in the morning and even though we have successfully passed the new law we must remember that it should not just remain a blue print document. We need to ensure that we implement it in its entirety,” she said.
Eric Wainaina and David Mathenge (popularly known as Nameless) were also present. Mr Wainaina said the moment signified the country\’s re-birth adding that it should not be taken lightly.
"We must now show our seriousness in getting the new dawn that we always talk about. Things will not be easy and we must not tire," he said.
Entertainment at the event ranged from traditional songs from the vast Kenyan tribes, a show of the Kenyan army might, poems by various artists and a joint performance by Kenya\’s celebrated musicians.
Some of the heads of state who graced the included Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Rwandese President Paul Kagame, Zanzibar\’s Amani Abeid Karume, Mohamed Abdallah Sambi President of the Comoros and Sudan\’s Omar al-Bashir.
Former heads of state included: Kenya\’s Daniel arap Moi, Tanzania\’s Benjamin Mkapa, Nigeria\’s Olesugun Obasanjo and Ghana\’s John Kufuor.
The dignitaries\’ also included former Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan and representatives of all diplomatic missions based in Kenya.