Nostalgia as Nakuru hosts Madaraka Day for first time
Posted by African Press International on May 29, 2016
By Steve Mkawale
Updated Sunday, May 29th 2016 at 09:23 GMT +3, standard news Kenya.
In the aftermath of the 2007 General Election, Nakuru was a hotbed of politically-instigated ethnic violence.
Hundreds were maimed and killed, and property destroyed in Nakuru as one of the counties that bore the heaviest brunt of the post-election chaos.
Nine years later, the county is reclaiming its lost glory by becoming an epitome of peace.
This year alone, President Uhuru Kenyatta has visited the county four times in a span of a few weeks.
And he is expected for a fifth time next Wednesday, accompanied by his deputy William Ruto, to lead the nation in celebrating the 53rd Madaraka Day.
The event will take Nakuru into the annals of history as the first county to host a national celebration. Historically, Madaraka Day is marked at Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium to commemorate the day Kenya attained self-rule in 1963, preceding full independence from Britain on December 12.
Although some would want to describe the celebrations at Afraha Stadium as a move by Jubilee to affirm its authority in Rift Valley, the county is close to President Kenyatta’s heart.
In their previous visits to the county, the President and his deputy expressed their high regard for Nakuru County.
“Nakuru is close to my heart. This is where we started our journey to unite Kenyans,” the President said in his tour of the county in March. In the run up to the 2013 General Election, Nakuru was the birthplace of the Jubilee alliance.
On April 16, President Kenyatta led the Jubilee brigade in a thanksgiving rally at Afraha Stadium after the collapse of their cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The President and his deputy had been charged with crimes against humanity related to the 2007 post-poll violence but the cases collapsed.
Apart from the advantage of favour that stems from the President and his deputy’s nostalgia for Nakuru County, there are other factors at play. Governor Kinuthia Mbugua says the cosmopolitan nature of Nakuru has earned it a special place in the heart of the country’s leadership.
According to the governor, multi-ethnic representation in Nakuru makes it a melting pot of Kenya’s cultural diversity.
“Nakuru is true representation of country’s ethnic diversity and that is why the President and his deputy find it easy to come here and make key political pronouncements,” Mbugua claims. He adds: “They managed to unite their supporters here when The National Alliance (TNA) and United Republican Party (URP) formed the Jubilee coalition here in Nakuru prior to the 2013 elections.”
He says after forming the coalition, the two leaders held and bound their supporters together and that was the reason Madaraka fete would be held there. The cosmopolitan nature of Nakuru has seen it at different times represented by leaders from various ethnic groups such as the late Wafula Wabuge, Achieng Oneko, Joseph Onamu and Joseph Oyondi.
Mbugua observes that the county has hosted several historic meetings and has its place reserved in history books.
He cites a meeting held in the region in 1963 by then President Jomo Kenyatta when he met white settlers after the country attained self rule.
The meeting held at the current Old Town Hall was convened following political uncertainty in the country after independence and the sectors affected were manufacturing and agriculture, both dominated by the whites.
It will be remembered that most of the white settlers had land in the Rift Valley, and Nakuru was the city in the region.
The Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) was headed by Lord Delamere who still has vast of land in the Naivasha area. The first Agriculture College was established in Nakuru by Lord Egerton who started as farm school and later a college in 1955.
Historians say Lord Delamere donated huge chunks of land where Egerton University, which is the premier agriculture college, now stands.
Local leaders say Nakuru also earned accolades after it was recognized for being the cleanest in East Africa.
“In the same vein, the county was recognized by the United Nation for being the fastest developing in Africa,” says Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria.
On the political front, Gikaria says Nakuru is the only county where three former Presidents—Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki have homes. The former presidents acquired land in Rongai and Bahati constituencies where they are engaged in various economic activities that have employed hundreds of people.
The late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta resided in the expansive Gicheha farm in Rongai constituency, which the family still owns to date. Former President Moi has settled at his Kabarak farm that boosts of excellent learning facilities including a university and a leading high school.
Retired President Kibaki has a farm in Bahati constituency, the Gingalili farm along the Nakuru-Nyahururu road that over looks the Menengai Crater.
Gikaria agrees that the county reflects the face of the country and that it is historic to hold the Madaraka day celebrations there. He says Nakuru County residents live together in harmony despite their ethnic diversity.
Officials from the national government have clarified that shifting the national event from Nyayo Stadium to Afraha has nothing to do with politics.
Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Wanyama Musiambo says the move by the President is a fulfillment of Jubilee’s promise of devolving national celebrations, which have over the years been held in Nairobi.
End/ standard news Kenya.