Yesterday was inauguration day in Kenya. It was a day to welcome the next generation of leader in the country, the fourth in our history; President Uhuru Kenyatta. It was a beautiful ceremony with Kenyans in their thousands watching at the stadium and in their millions on TV. Apart from the core Kenyan constituent there were leaders from across the continent including the regional ones; Museveni, Kagame, Kikwete and the new Ethiopian guy I had to go online to find his name. It’s Hailemariam Desalegn.
The performances I saw were great. Gospel star Jemimah Thiong’o with her old hit (nowadays a song from 2006-9 is considered old) akisema atakubariki (when he says he will bless you) was a revelation. It was done with a combined universities choir who danced quite well as it all went down. Also performing were the sweet girls from the Moipei Quartet who were singing that old Roger Whittaker hit song My Land is Kenya. Those four young women sang so well it brought a tear to my eye. (Side note: I am currently waiting to see which one of the girls become the Latoya Jackson of the Moipeis. It has to happen to one of them right?)
The one thing that loomed was the whole set up of the event. It looked to be a throwback to the years of President Kenyatta the father with the Maroon commandos doing a lot of the performing. Young performers, Daddy Owen and his ilk, had performed earlier but for the main ceremony was the Maroon Commandos’ territory. Now I don’t know about this sticking with a group singing old school songs (that’s real old school as in 1970s-80s NOT 2006). Was the group there because old Sammy Lui the chief organiser of all presidential events still likes them and insisted on his old pals being on the billing? Or was it the new administrations way of saying we are back to the Kenyatta days. I am not sure which but the one thing I have come to learn about the new guys on the hill is that they don’t do things without much thought. It is for all I know very deliberate.
Something from the tone of the speeches especially from the new president encouraged me highly. No it was not about the laptops for kids, free maternity and health care and the promises to have Kenya grow in double digits. It was the deliberate intention look to the continent. It didn’t just start with that podium address. During the election, the Jubilee Coalition didn’t just advertise in Kenyan media but did so in other countries around the continent. They also had a seriously serious social media campaign with an African focus.
During his inauguration speech the new president spent some time explaining that with him Africa has “a friend and an ally.” I was a bit surprised with that statement as one would hardly expect to state that one is a friend and ally of an organisation or group one belongs to. Splitting hairs here I suppose. Perhaps this tells us that Kenya is now looking neither west to the Americans and their friends or to the East to the Chinese and their friends. We are now looking within to our own bosom of Africa. Time will tell.
Some thoughts for the new administration;
- Africa Day – The holiday for Africa is celebrated on 25th May every year. If we can’t have it as a national holiday let’s have major concerts like they do in South Africa. It’s symbolic but will help in cementing our African credentials.
- African History – Let’s see more African history in our schools. African society didn’t start existing when they first got into contact with white people.
- Work permits for Africans gratis – Rwanda allows all African nationals to work without the need for a permit. It works for them as I suspect it changes the dynamic of the society from the few nationalities therein and attracts labour looking for a new challenge. Allowing other nationals to work without a needing a work permit might have “negative effects” at the immigration offices. The biggest winner will be the exchequer as the taxes from the people who will now working hard to build our country. We also get access to a pool of the best talent from the rest of continent without it costing employers an arm and a leg.
The singing of the continental African anthem was a good start. It was good to see those young folks sing that hit in Swahili. Mungu ibariki Africa… (God bless Africa).