Beauty and opulence mark Madaraka Day

When Margaret Muthoni saw President Uhuru Kenyatta drive into Kabiru-ini Stadium surrounded by mean-looking and well-armed Recce squad members, she shouted in awe: “Ngai, iiyo ni micinga ya Uhuru? (Ooh my God, are those Uhuru’s guns?”)

She might as well have captured the mood at Kabiru-ini Stadium in Nyeri Town and the county itself.

The full might of the government descended on the normally quiet town that was cradle of the Mau Mau struggle for independence striking fear, anxiety and excitement into everyone.

And everybody, including Kenya Power, was rushing to ensure nothing went wrong.

FETE1 Beauty and opulence mark Madaraka Day

Traditional dancers from Nyeri present folk songs during Madaraka Day celebration at Kabiruini grounds in Nyeri on June 1, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A few hours before the President’s arrival, a vehicle hit an electricity pole.

The whole town was thrown into darkness. A band that was on stage at Kabiru-ini went mute.

Suddenly, Kenya Power technicians went into a frenzy.

The normally laggard employees dashed from one vehicle to another like presidential bodyguards.

Within minutes, electricity was restored. If only these people worked as fast as they did yesterday…

The crowd at Kabiru-ini was also charged, not by the power company, but by the display in and around the stadium.

On one hand, the star struck residents could interact with people they usually see on TV.

From President Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto, National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga to Inooro TV presenter Ken Wakuraya.

Throw in Mr Joseph Kamaru and his Kikuyu music oldies and it was a party at midday for those who attended.

On the other hand was the display of opulence and comradeship of those at the VIP dais.

FETE2 Beauty and opulence mark Madaraka Day

Traditional dancers entertain guests during Madaraka Day celebration at Kabiruini grounds in Nyeri on June 1, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The economic contrast between the dais and other terraces stood out like a sore thumb.

As residents walked to the stadium, aspirants and governors landed in helicopters.

By noon, there were 12 choppers had landed with less than 100 people.

Close to 20,000 souls walked to the venue or arrived by bus. And then there was beauty at display.

The men and women streaming in exuded a mixture of beauty, tradition and elegance all rolled into one.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru and Taita-Taveta Woman Rep Joyce Lay stole the fashion show with elegant attire that complemented their looks and augmented their positions.

Ms Lay could not just let the complements that went her way pass unnoticed.

“Thank you very much,” she told the bevy of orderlies and journalists complementing her look.

FETE3 Beauty and opulence mark Madaraka Day

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta arrives at Kabiruini Grounds in Nyeri for Madaraka Day celebration on June 1, 2017. PHOTO | NICHOLAS KOMU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Mr Odinga strode in like a boss, wearing a hat and waving to crowds at the gate. They were disappointed he never got a chance to speak.

Mau Mau fighters were not left behind. Some wore sheep skin clothing and shuffled with guards to sit on the VIP dais.

For politicos, the size of the smiles and frowns also depended on how you fared in the Jubilee nominations.

Ms Waiguru sauntered in looking with a red dress, greeting everyone who extended a hand.

She walked, talked and behaved like a winner. Incumbent Joseph Ndathi was nowhere to be seen.


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