NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 8 – They had him passing notes, keeling over and crying in laughter as they ended up celebrating him instead of the other way around during the International Women’s Day celebrations at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on Saturday.
The Starehe Girls students got him warmed up with a performance of African Woman that had him tapping his fingers on the table in tune to their singing.
And it didn’t take long before Helen Mtawali’s performance of ‘It is well with my soul’, in various mimicked male and female voices, had him laughing.
But it wasn’t just the music, when affirmative action proponent Phoebe Asiyo took to the podium, President Kenyatta could not help but smile.
“We’ve been fighting for the last 50 years for the women to be put in the highest office of the land and I don’t think the President knew that it was what we had been fighting for. You know you’ve surprised everybody. You have given the keys that have unlocked the hearts of women,” she told him.
It was Runyenjes Member of Parliament Cecily Mbarire however, who stole the show beginning by first ensuring the head of state wasn’t thrown by being surrounded by so many women.
“I want to ask the gentlemen who are here, led by the President, not to feel intimidated at all; today is our day,” she made clear right off the bat.
And as she went on to explain to the women present what the Marriage Bill means for them, she had the President turning back in laughter to his aide de camp.
“If you’re in a customary marriage and you don’t want a co-wife, don’t waste time, drag him to church immediately,” she said.
But it was her description of what the rural woman undergoes on a daily basis and the difference that the Uwezo Fund would make for her that got the tears rolling down his cheeks.
“After dinner your Excellency her work is not over. She has to wash utensils, sweep, then that is the time to repair uniforms that were torn during the day, put a button on her husband’s shirt and when her back is hurting and she thinks she can finally get some rest, bwana ndio huyo amefika (here her husband comes),” she said to laughter.
When he eventually took to the stage, he caused some chuckles of his own when he admitted that while he supported his wife’s efforts at eliminating maternal and infant mortality through The First Lady’s Marathon on Sunday, he was in no physical shape to take part.
“Let me close for the first time by mentioning my wife in a public statement and say that I congratulate her for her sterling example in fighting for the rights of women and young people by running the first ever marathon by a First lady anywhere in the globe,” he closed.