When the news started indicating that it will be pomp and colour at the promulgation of our New constitution, I didn’t realise just how much! I was set to watch the proceedings live from my house and the coverage in all the local TV stations was not disappointing. The venue of the great event, Uhuru Park has great historical significance. Uhuru is a Kiswahili means ‘independence’ and it has significance to the Kenya’s independence since the first flag was hoisted at the Uhuru gardens not very far from this park and hence the name has great significance. The Uhuru Park evokes memories of liberation; it is the park that the first African woman, Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai fought for a long while against the former president Moi’s regime who wanted to elect a skyscraper. It is at Uhuru Park, that the transition in 2002 was done when the current president took over power in what was seen as Kenya’s second liberation. It is in this park that today, 27th August 2010, by 0800hrs Kenyans were already full to capacity, waiting eagerly for the great day.
The visitors who graced the ceremony included several presidents from different countries, former presidents, ambassadors were among other guests. The mood in the crowd was ecstatic, patriotic songs were played by the military band and I could not help but shed tears of joy; the day is finally here.
The arrival of the first lady, Lucy Kibaki was followed by the arrival of the president shortly before 1000hrs and the ceremony got under way. The prayers were conducted to include some of the diverse beliefs in Kenya like Islam, Christianity and traditional religions. Shortly after 100hrs the process of promulgation started after s brief speech from the president. The crowd watched, cheered, clapped and simply celebrated as we watched the process begin. None of us watching had ever witnessed such a ceremony in Kenya. The OLD constitution was negotiated in Lancaster just before the Kenya’s independence in 1963 and has the seal and signature of the queen. This was therefore a momentous occasion to see the promulgation of the document we had given views on, discussed, bargained and voted for, what a day for Kenya! The four colours of the national flag; green, red, white and black were well represented in the dressing and flags that are witnessed at Uhuru Park.
The promulgation starts by having the Attorney General give copies of the constitution. The president gave a declaration of the New Constitution and then went ahead to sign the document. The seal was affixed on the new constitution and the president then held it up for the crowds to see. There were loud cheers as the fanfare is played with President Kibaki waving the Constitution. You should see the smile on the man’s face, and for the first time I saw a full smile on the president’s face!
AND NOW, KENYA IS UNDER A NEW CONSTITUTION!
The three verses of the national anthem were sung in Kiswahili. This is a really rare occasion since in national functions, the national anthem tune is normally played by the band and when sang in different occasions its normally the only the first verse; here we were the three verses. The words of the national anthem summarises the prayer for Kenya today.
“O God of all creation
Bless this our land and nation
Justice be our shield and defender
May we dwell in unity
Peace and liberty
Plenty be found within our borders.
Let one and all arise
With hearts both strong and true
Service be our earnest endeavour
And our homeland of Kenya
Heritage of splendour
Firm may we stand to defend.
Let all with one accord
In common bond united
Build this our nation together
And the glory of Kenya
The fruit of our labour
Fill every heart with thanksgiving.”
The cheering in the crowd was at its loudest and the cannon blasted as the flag is hoisted simultaneously! The flag that was hoisted is 22 by 14 ft and has risen to a height of 30 metres where it will remain as a permanent feature.
IT’S A NEW KENYA
The chief justice was the first person to swear allegiance to the New Constitution. President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila and vice president Kalonzo also took afresh the oath of office and allegiance to the new law. The members of parliament would take the oaths later on in the day. Kenyans ratified the new constitution of Kenya and here we were rejoicing in the new possibilities it created. There was entertainment and displays by different groups of people. Display of armoured Personnel Carriers, battle tanks and Humvees roll by. There is little chance they will ever be used in actual war, but every nation appreciates the role the army plays. It is the first time the Kenyan public is seeing this war machinery. Amazing stuff!! Helicopters trailing banners bearing the words, ‘GOD BLESS KENYA’. Trailers bearing workers simulating the construction of houses are also part of the display here. They are constructing a new house symbolizing the making of the new Kenya; musicians, it was the time for the Kenyan dance.
The occasion was concluded by speeches from the president, vice president and prime minister.
The president reiterated some of the values in the New Constitution that identified need to accommodate diversity and respect universal principles of human rights, gender, equity and human rights
For the second time Kenyans sang all the three verses of the national anthem to conclude the occasion. Later the presidents, prime minister and the first lady led in a significance event of releasing doves which signify peace and balloons in the colours of the national flag as an indication of new dawn.
A new Kenya, and I plan to celebrate even more, no worries about implementations, costs etc today, it’s time to celebrate!
New Kenya, New Dawn.