NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 1 – A short stroll and a 3-minute chat between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto at State House Nairobi was Monday’s climax of Kenya’s Madaraka Day celebrations.
Walking casually, engaged in animated conversations, the two leaders went towards one of the State House balcony where the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Second Lady Rachael Ruto sat, away from the main dais, and exchanged pleasantries in a now uncommon camaraderie witnessed during first term of their administration.
Monday’s appearance during which the two leaders dressed in matching ties elicited mixed reactions, the DP seemingly having adopted a more reassuming tone in his speech, reiterating his support for the Head of State.
“Your Excellency, as a people we are confident that under your leadership, the government will take the necessary decisions to ensure we mitigate and minimize the effects of this pandemic,” Ruto, remarked during the 57 Madaraka Day celebrations, an annual commemoration of Kenya’s attainment self-rule.
“No government has experienced the kind of challenge COVID-19 has caused to our country. Every Kenyan is now part of the big army to deal with COVID-19. This pandemic has made everyone realize our inadequacy and what God can do.”
Ruto’s remarks came at a time of intense speculation over the deteriorating relationship with his boss the peak of which saw the Jubilee Party make far-reaching changes in the leadership of the Senate, dethroning Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, a key ally of Ruto, from the Majority Leader position.
The Jubilee Party has also instituted disciplinary proceedings against members allied to Ruto who have been accused of undermining President Kenyatta’s agenda.
Ruto spoke after Council of Governor chairperson Wycliffe Oparanya who called for more collaboration between the two levels of government.
And unlike in the past, musical performances were limited to pre-recorded programs which were discontinued once the President walked in, to inspect the guard of honour.
The President used the event to root for the Big Four Agenda – a campaign promise that he made during his re-election campaign – and constitutional amendment through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) he jointly leads with Opposition Leader Raila Odinga.
“Today’s celebration is taking place in an unconventional manner. For the first time in 57 years, we are unable to celebrate Madaraka Day at a public gathering because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the President said.
“We commemorate this day with fond memories of the struggle for independence and the birth of the Kenyan nation and with it the Kenyan dream.”
President urged Kenyans, ” to re-imagine Kenyan. More so, because, COVID-19 has forced us into a situation where we must re-set our national systems. But to re-imagine our dream and nationhood, we must reflect on our history, because history has laws that show us the future. We must begin by asking ourselves a number of questions.”
How was the Kenyan dream imagined in the very beginning?
And how did we come to be?
How did the original blueprint of ‘Project Kenya’ look like?
A set of questions he posed to Kenyans with an assurance that the country would emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger.