NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 26- At about 11:02am, the aircraft carrying the most coveted trophy in the world of football, the 18-carat, 6.1kg FIFA World Cup trophy touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi from Addis Ababa Ethiopia.
Welcomed by a ceremonial water canon treatment, accorded to aircraft only on special occasions, the trophy was received by a host of dignitaries led by three Cabinet Secretaries; Sports’ Rashid Echesa, Tourism’s Najib Balala as well as Youth and Gender’s Margaret Kobia.
So special is this trophy that no matter how high ranking you are in the government, your fingerprints will never get close to the trophy. Not even the world’s best players, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are allowed to touch it.
The prestige of laying hands on the trophy is only left to sitting Heads of State and precious winners. Kenya having never even come close to playing in the event, only President Uhuru Kenyatta was allowed to lay his hands on the prestigious piece of silverware.
After a short ceremony at the airport, the trophy headed to the House on the Hill where despite a delay of close to three hours, the ceremony got underway in a bit of glitz.
A seven-a-side exhibition game pitting Bunge FC against a combined team from the Copa Coca-Cola tournament provided the appetizer to the greater event, the game ending in a 1-1 draw.
Elgeyo Marakwet senator Kipchumba Murkomen might have scored Bunge’s lone goal, but it was Kieni legislator Kanini Kega who stole the show.
Kega was the team’s goalkeeper and made several superb saves, including a penalty to ensure the waheshimiwas were not embarrassed by the budding stars.
Others who were part of the team included Machakos’ Victor Munyaka, Webuye West MP Dan Wanyama who is a former national team volleyball player as well as Football Kenya Federation National Executive member David Gikaria, also the Nakuru town East MP.
The President got the opportunity to interact with the trophy even as he urged Kenya’s Harambee Stars to qualify for the event held once in four years.
Pupils from across several primary schools who had attended the event also got the opportunity to have photo-ops with the Head of State, a once in a while opportunity.
On this day, the President, clad in a simple Coca-Cola branded tee-shirt was eased out and mingled freely with the crowd.
There were some more moments of cheer when the President took, and scored, a penalty against Harambee Stars’ CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup winning keeper Patrick Matasi.
Matasi saved three penalties during the win against Zanzibar last December but on this occasion, he failed to land in a save against the country’s Commander in Chief.
President Kenyatta was definitely pleased with his achievement and almost fell into doing a ‘dab celebration’… or probably trying a #WakandaForever kinda thing.
The trophy will now be hosted for a public viewing ceremony at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on Tuesday before heading to Maputo, Mozambique in the evening.