Leaders call for prayers, reflection as holiday begins
A cross-section of leaders and prominent personalities have asked Kenyans to use the festive season to reflect on challenges facing the country and its future.
Most leaders said they will retreat to their rural homes to spend Christmas with family members and attend thanksgiving events, while others will travel to various tourist destinations.
Those who will spend the Christmas festivities at home include Deputy President William Ruto, Opposition chief Raila Odinga, Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, his National Assembly counterpart Justin Muturi and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu.
The Deputy President is expected to continue hosting delegations of leaders from across the country at his Sugoi home in Uasin Gishu county to rally support for his presidential ambitions.
He asked Kenyans to reflect on the year that was and plan for a bigger and better year in 2020.
He also advised Kenyans to be law abiding citizens, drive safely and obey traffic rules.
“This is the season to recharge, spend time with loved ones and reconnect with the beauty of our country as we travel back and forth across the country.
It is my prayer that the birth of the baby King Jesus brings happiness and blessings into our families, communities and nation,” he said.
“ We will build on the work we have done this year in 2020.”
Moment of meditation
Others, such as Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, will travel out of the city to the coastal county of Kwale for a holiday with family.
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi yesterday said he would be at his Mululu home in Vihiga county for a Christmas church service and the Maragoli cultural festival, usually held on Boxing Day.
“I encourage Kenyans to spend the time as a moment of meditation of the sacrifices of Jesus Christ and reflect on the future of this country,” he told People Daily.
“We need to meditate on how to fight vices such as corruption, impunity and address the economic hard times we are facing.”
Mudavadi spoke as Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai said due to service demands, he had suspended leave for all police officers until further notice. Officers on leave were directed to report back to work immediately.
“We have deployed officers adequately this festive season and I can assure Kenyans that their security is guaranteed. We are all on duty until the New Year,” he said.
He added: “I would, however, urge Kenyans to be alert wherever they are. Those who travel should ensure they have made necessary arrangements to ensure their houses are not broken into. Motorists should exercise a lot of caution on the roads.”
Speaker Muturi said he will retreat to his Mbeere village home in Embu county for Christmas. He also challenged Kenyans to reflect on what said has been a challenging year for the country.
“As the year 2020 beckons, and as we take a moment to reflect on 2019, it is imperative to admit that though we have witnessed a set of immense challenges, we are proud of the considerable wins and gains that we have made,” he said.
“Let us use the opportunity to spread good cheer and benevolence to the communities and friends wherever they may be.”
Lusaka has urged Kenyans to celebrate Christmas with moderation and humility because the person whose birthday is being celebrated—Jesus Christ—was humble.
“This season should be about sharing with the needy and the less fortunate. That’s the spirit of Christmas,” he said in an interview with the People Daily.
He asked Kenyans to be hopeful about the future and embark on nation building after festivities. Citing a tough year, Lusaka revealed he will be having a moment with his family and spend time praying for God’s wisdom to lead the Senate in the right direction next year.
Sonko asked Kenyans to remember the less fortunate in society.
“As we usher in this festive season to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, I wish to encourage you all extend your generosity and kindness, however little, to your neighbours and community.”
The city governor will spend time at the Sonko family resort in Kwale county.
Governor Ngilu said she would spend time in her village home in Kitui.
Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki noted that Kenyans had a reasonably busy year. “I will still be running around like I have already started with last Friday’s visit to Kenyatta National Hospital, where I visited sick children in the paediatric oncology ward, just to share a cake with them, to give them the much-needed comfort,” she said.
The CS said she would spend her Christmas doing similar charity activities in Embu and Nyandarua counties.
Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said the festive season was a moment of peace and harmony. The Kakamega Governor urged road users to exercise caution to ensure safety of travellers.
“During this season, let us engage in acts of kindness by giving and sharing, especially with the less fortunate among us. Let us ensure that we strongly keep our national values and principles.”
World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri and Kenya Sevens star Collins Injera said they would travel to their rural homes for the festivities.
“I will be joining my family for Christmas, which will be a great opportunity to meet and catch up. To Kenyans, thank you for your support. Let’s take care of ourselves and let’s meet next year,” said Obiri
Injera said he would savour the moment with his family. “It time to be with family. I will take my kids to see their grandparents in Kakamega. To Kenyans, enjoy Christmas but do it responsibly.”
Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi said he will spend the holiday in the county and visit homes for the destitute with his children.
Suna East MP Junet Mohammed said he would be at home in Migori county. “I want to urge everyone to ensure that personal interest don not come before the interest of the country,” said the ODM politician.
Captains of industry expressed hope that next year would be conducive for business.
“We wish Kenyans prosperity and peace in the coming year. I am cautiously optimistic of the economy going forward,” said Safaricom acting chief executive Michael Joseph, who indicated that he would be celebrating Christmas in the North Coast.
Phyllis Wakiaga, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO, said she would savour the West Kenya tourism circuit.
“I started celebrations with the Rusinga festival visiting family and my in-laws. I will then head to Naivasha and end up in Maasai Mara for New Year,” she said.
Central Bank board chair Mohamed Nyaoga said he would spend Christmas supporting and sharing with the underprivileged and put a smile on those who have little to celebrate.
“We thank God for giving us the opportunity to complete the year… looking up to a prosperous New Year,” he said.
At the Coast, leaders have planned a string of events targeting the less fortunate.
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho will visit children with cerebral palsy at the Cerebral Palsy Foundation Centre in Tudor and donate gifts and food on Christmas Day.
County Communications Director Richard Chacha said the governor would be accompanied by county staff and other leaders.
“On Saturday, the governor distributed foodstuff to the less fortunate communities at Mwakirunge, today he will be at Sheikh Zayed where he is expected to distribute food to the less fortunate families in Nyali and Kisauni,” Chacha said.
Joho, on his part, said: “I wish all Christians peace and love during this festive season.
Let’s remember those who are less fortunate in society and share with them what we have been blessed with. We in Mombasa take pride in religious and ethnic diversity.”
On December 31, Joho has scheduled a fireworks fanfare at the Kibarani people’s park, which was previously a dumping site.
In Kilifi the main event, the Annual Governor’s Christmas, was held on Thursday with Amason Kingi hosting 2,000 orphaned children from various children’s homes at the governor’s office in Kilifi town.
“In today’s world, even a child with both parents sometimes undergoes hardships because of the harsh economic times we face.
If it is so then how about the orphaned children. This is why we need to show them love and care,” said Kingi.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General Wilson Sossion said there is nothing to celebrate for Knut, given that the Teachers Service Commission had failed to deduct teachers’ contributions amounting to over Sh100 million this month.
“It is a sad time because there are no December salaries for our union workers hence no Christmas for us. TSC has completely removed all dues for the union,” he said.