NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 12 – Kenyans braved a chilly Wednesday night to witness history repeat itself as President Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of the country’s founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta re-enacted a feat his father achieved at the very same grounds 50 years ago.
Only this time around, the Kenyan flag was the only one hoisted unlike in 1963 when Mzee Kenyatta led the nation in witnessing the lowering of the Union Jack and hoisting of the Kenya flag.
The crowds which had began gathering at the Uhuru Gardens on Langata Road from around 5pm, were in a partying mood that not even the hop, step and jump that members of the public had to adopt in order to gain entry into the venue – thanks to muddy conditions – could not deter them from experiencing this once in a lifetime event.
On a night that was laced with the theme of transition from the independence generation to the self proclaimed ‘digital generation’, those in attendance during Wednesday night’s hoisting of the flag made use of their mobile phones and iPads to capture the moment for future generations – if not for their immediate friends – as proof they were part of the Kenya’s Golden Jubilee, a technological departure from the 1963 event.
So eager were some Kenyans who attended the Golden Jubilee that some found themselves getting in the way of the marching Kenya Defence Forces band.
The transition theme was also witnessed with the masters of ceremonies for the event, where legendary broadcaster Leonard Mambo Mbotela and former Capital FM presenter Jimmi Gathu taking turns in guiding the programme for the night.
Perhaps the best example of the generational gap was when Mbotela asked the DJ to moderate the volume.
“DJ naomba ucheze mziki kwa sauti nadra, sio kwa sauti ambayo itapasua maskio,” (Mr DJ when you play the music, please do so at a bearable volume and not one that can rupture the ears) to which the crowd respectfully disagreed and the DJ took it a notch higher much to their delight.
Mbotela would be a source of further reflection as he recounted how he had been present at the venue when the Duke of Edinburgh handed over the independence documents to the late Mzee Kenyatta at the same grounds.
Mbotela told the crowd which included President Kenyatta and his mother Mama Ngina Kenyatta: “I was at this very grounds in 1963 when Mzee Kenyatta said we will get Uhuru (freedom) here and today I am glad to stand before his son, strong and with the same voice and witness this event.”
Just like in 1963, the crowd was cheered wildly as the flag was hoisted by the two Kenya Army Servicemen and then it was followed by a seven-minute fireworks display that lit up the sky.