Kenya's golden jubilee marked with fanfare
Updated: 2013-12-13 12:30
People dance to mark Kenya's 50th birthday in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, Dec 12, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]
NAIROBI -- A carnival mood had already enveloped Safaricom stadium at dawn on Thursday as Kenyans from all walks of life defied rains to troop the venue and cerebrate the country's 50th birthday.
The climax of Kenya's 50 cerebrations on Thursday lived up to the expectations of invited dignitaries and ordinary people given the excitement that registered in their faces.
Organizers had made it clear that Kenyan golden jubilee will be a watershed moment for the country and elaborate plans were in place to ensure everyone enjoyed the party.
Sentimental ballads played from huge loudspeakers erected at strategic points inside the stadium as jubilant crowds trooped in to secure a seat.
By mid-morning the stadium was filled to capacity and security personnel had a hectic time controlling an over-joyed crowd that sang and danced to modern and yester year tunes.
There was somber moment as the master of ceremony announced that a local choir was about to stage a musical journey to highlight the evolution of Kenya's entertainment industry since independence.
"Dear invited guests, the much awaited moment is here with us. Let us welcome an acapella group to take us through a musical journey dating from the 1960s to the present times," boomed Fred Machoka, a renowned radio presenter.
The mostly youthful Acapella occupied the stage and gyrated rhythmically as lyrics played in the background.
The musical journey lasted 30 minutes and had a healthy mix of old and current ballads composed by Kenyan artists.
The songs highlighted different episodes in Kenya since independence and brightened the mood inside the stadium as the drizzling reached a crescendo.
At some point, crowds rose from the benches and joined the dancing as music played.
It was a frenzied moment as Kenyan artists entered the stage to belt out moving songs that cerebrated the country's epoch journey since independence.
Prominent names in Kenya's entertainment scene including Emmy Kosgei, Suzzana Owiyo, Juakali, Nonini, Esther Wahome and Rufftone, raised temperatures as they belted out powerful lyrics.
Some dignitaries joined the ecstatic crowds to dance as a band played the theme song.
The theme song composed by a famous gospel musician was so electrifying that President Uhuru Kenyatta requested it to be played for a second time.
Songs dominated the better part of the day's program but guests kept asking for more until the master of ceremony intervened to ensure comedians had a chance.
The veteran comedians who were invited to perform had clearly done their homework and left everyone in stitches.
The young and old comedians who are visible on Kenyan televisions had a relaxed composure as they treated everyone to creative humor.
There was electric moment as a popular comedian who acts like a former President entered the stage and made a state manly speech while waving a sword.
Other comedians settled on social topics that connect with ordinary people including domestic quarrels, greed, corruption and infidelity.
The organizers seemed to have learnt the psyche of crowds to ensure that entertainment took the lion share of the golden jubilee cerebrations.
As the cerebrations progressed, the ululation and blaring of horns became the order of the day.
When the dignitaries rose to speak, they too did not disappoint and made brief remarks to avoid diluting the main agenda of the day; to cerebrate Kenya's epoch moment.
Leaders from across the political divide in the country also came together, as a sign of unity, to reflect on the successes and challenges of the last 50 years as Kenyans.
The golden jubilee commemorated in the 47 counties, was marked by a 21-gun salute. Kenyans were treated to a diversity of cultural entertainments from across the country and the EAC region.
The climax of the celebrations was the President's speech read in all administrative units in the country.
Six Heads of State and Government, who spoke on behalf of all visiting delegations from across the world, expressed solidarity with Kenya and its leadership as the country marked the 50th birthday.
Presidents who spoke were Jarkaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Joyce Banda of Malawi, Goodwill Jonathan of Nigeria, Ali Bongo of Gabon and Ethiopian Premier Hailemariam Desalegn.
Also in attendance were immediate retired President Mwai Kibaki, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.
President Kikwete assured that Tanzania will continue to strengthen the existing cordial relations with Kenya and the East African Community for the benefit of people in the region.
President Jonathan of Nigeria urged Kenyans to remain united in order to build an all-inclusive society ready to shape the country's destiny as one people.
Other President who attended the celebrations were Joseph Kabila of Congo, Seretse Khama of Botswana, Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka, Ikililou Dhoinine of Comoros, Mohamed Abdulaziz of Saharawi Arab republic and Salva Kirr of South Sudan.