The country is abuzz with festive cheer after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday evening presided over the traditional lighting of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi.
The President said the event – which was accompanied by magnificent fireworks – signified the spirit of togetherness while KICC was a symbol of unity and what Kenyans could achieve when they refused to let their differences divide them.
“But what does this lighting represent? Well, Christmas is coming. As usual, Kenyans will gather with their families and their loved ones to reconnect and to renew the bonds that tie us together,” President Kenyatta said.
He added, “Today, let us celebrate this lighting of KICC, and then, let us resolve to keep that flame of unity alive in our hearts, and in the hearts. Let us just rekindle that spirit of unity.”
President Kenyatta – who was accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta – described KICC as a historic building and one of the iconic projects of independent Kenya.
He said KICC, which was designed by David Mutiso, was proof that a government run by Africans could meet and surpass the standards of the colonial order.
“All those years ago, we showed that, we in our freedom, could do better than the colonialists. And since then this building has remained an iconic symbol not just of Nairobi but a symbol of African modernity,” he said.
The President said KICC is also one of Africa’s leading convention centres where the continent welcomes the world, citing the recent major conferences it has hosted including the fourteenth UNCTAD conference and the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD – VI).
“So let’s be clear. This is a building with a very rich history, which represents the best of Kenya’s past, present and future,” the President said.
President Kenyatta said the traditional lighting of KICC is in keeping with its history, saying it has always been a building for pioneers and for those willing to take a step forward.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said he was working to make KICC an engine that would stimulate the 24-hour economy of Nairobi.
He challenged the board of management of KICC to refurbish it to enable it accommodate even bigger conferences and be a nerve centre for economic activities in Nairobi.