NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28 – President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto didn’t take to the stage to sing a hymn but there were some laughs all the same despite the solemn nature of this year’s National Prayer Breakfast.
A time for quiet self-reflection, the organisers explained. “If you noticed, their speeches were short because those in attendance were meant to look inside,” Deputy Minority Leader in the National Assembly Jakoyo Midiwo, who gave the first reading, told Capital FM News.
And in the spirit of reflection, President Kenyatta called on those in the public service “to do the right thing.”
“That was last year’s theme and if we all did that this country would be very far; if the Parliamentarians, for instance, heeded the very words of scripture they read here on the floor of the house.
This should not be a ritual where we preach water and then hide in the back drinking wine,” he admonished.
The Deputy President’s remarks were much in the same vein but in his case, drew laughter as he took jabs at the singing prowess, or lack thereof, of those in attendance to make his point.
“I’m grateful to the President for appointing (Joseph) Nkaissery as Interior Cabinet Secretary. The Parliamentary choir definitely sounded better this year,” he teased in response to Nkaissery’s lament that he missed the choir of which he’d been a part prior to his appointment and that ironically didn’t rehearse before it took to the stage every year at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Ruto wasn’t afraid to take on the political Opposition either and expressed surprise at witnessing Midiwo give the first reading, “that was until the President nudged me and asked me, ‘is that (Ferdinand) Waititu in the choir?’”
All of which was meant to communicate the message, as President Kenyatta later stated, that political pursuits should not necessarily lead one to compromise their belief system.
Outside the chuckles the Deputy President drew, the overall mood of the prayer meeting was sombre in a year that saw 142 students lose their lives in a terror attack that also saw six servicemen die in the line of duty.
An internal struggle that was movingly testified to by Kamukunji Member of Parliament Yusuf Hassan who fell victim to extremists in 2012.