Residents turn up in large numbers for Mashujaa Day celebrations
Robert Ochoro and Hillary Mageka
Long and winding queues characterised the 11th Mashujaa Day celebrations as Kisii residents turned up in large numbers to attend the first-ever national celebrations to be held in the town.
The residents, drawn from as far as Bomet, Migori, Nyamira and Homa Bay counties started arriving at the Gusii Stadium as early as 5am.
They, however, had to endure tight security checks amid Covid-19 compliance before being cleared to take their seats.
Not even journalists were spared the security checks.
By around 8am, some 3,500 people had been cleared and given access at the 25,000-capacity stadium.
This even as hundreds of Kenyans were turned away for either failing to have their masks on or lacked invitation cards that were extended to some 4,000 persons.
Wearing masks was mandatory and seats were spread out in the 13 spectator stands and the main pavilion in line with the strict Covid-19 protocols of social distancing.
However, about 8,000 people were allowed to follow proceedings from television screens mounted along the streets and at the Kisii Golf Course.
Entertainment programme started slightly past 7am as more guests streamed in with tens of them dressed in the colors of the national flag as others waved miniature flags.
Legendary Maroon Commandos band and gospel artiste Jane Atieno were some of those who entertained the gatherings. The event was overseen by legendary radio deejay Fred Obachi Machoka and television presenter Lulu Hassan.
Kuria and Kalenjin communities were given chance to showcase their cultural songs and dance.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Kenneth Lusaka were among the first dignitaries to arrive at the stadium at around 9:40 am followed by Senate Minority Leader James Orengo and Suna East MP Junet Mohammed.
At 9:55 am, National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya arrived in the company of Likoni MP Mishi Mboko and Wajir Women Rep Fatuma Gedi.
Council of Governors Chairman Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) arrived at 10:02 am.
Chief Justice David Maraga who hails from the neighboring Nyamira County arrived at 10:22am and was soon joined by Cabinet Secretaries James Macharia (Transport), Fred Matiang’i (Interior), George Magoha (Education), Monica Juma (Defence) and Sports’ Amina Mohammed.
Deputy President William Ruto and his wife Rachel Ruto arrived at 10:35am. Five minutes later First Lady Margaret Kenyatta joined them at the venue.
President Uhuru Kenyatta arrived at 10:42am accompanied by Chief of Defence Forces Robert Kibochi, shortly after he inspected a guard of honour mounted by Kenya Airforce, Moi air base battalion.