Eldoret was brought to a standstill in ecstatic celebrations the moment outgoing Deputy President William Ruto was declared the President-elect of Kenya at 6.03pm on Monday evening.
Jubilation rent the air, with euphoric supporters who had already gathered on the streets of the Uasin Gishu town breaking into thunderous cheering.
It was no different in Sugoi, Dr Ruto’s village, now shoved into the international limelight for producing Kenya’s fifth President, who is awaiting to be sworn in.
The DP’s supporters in Sugoi broke into a euphoric excitement after their son was declared the winner of the 2022 presidential election, with more locals thronging his home for the momentous occasion.
Garlanded in 'sinendet'
The mood spread across North Rift counties, with jubilant supporters of the DP garlanded in sinendet, the traditional Kalenjin victory plant, as they sang traditional praise songs for a victory they described as historic.
In Eldoret, thousands had long before the announcement by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati gathered on the streets, waiting patiently and anxiously for hours, even bracing a defeat until the final presidential tally was declared.
They blocked the main Eldoret-Uganda highway as they watched the proceedings from a big screen that was mounted at a junction.
Vehicles plying the main Eldoret-Uganda highway were diverted to other feeder roads after the town was turned into a celebration arena.
Security was tight along the highway as they controlled the crowd from Eldoret and its environs.
Some supporters rode motorcycles while others hung on moving vehicles as they went up and down the streets to celebrate the climax of the 2022 General Election.
“This is the moment we have long waited for. At long last, victory is home and we congratulate all Kenyans who stood with us during the entire process,” said Collins Kosgei.
Earlier, police had hectic time controlling the surging crowds that milled around the giant screen located at the Paradise roundabout renowned for big gatherings in Eldoret.
Many shops remained closed due to security fears as ecstatic crowds crisscrossed the street in celebrations before and after the announcement of the presidential results.
The ecstatic supporters braved chilly weather and light showers in the afternoon as they waited for the IEBC to announce the official presidential results.
Anti-riot police riding on horses patrolled the town to beef up security as traffic police directed vehicles entering and exiting the town.
The celebrations were extended to estates around the town, including Sugoi village, the home of DP Ruto, where residents camped as early as 6am to await the big announcement.
“The DP and his team had done their ground work well and we were expecting nothing short of victory,” said Jackson Kosgei, a supporter.
Restaurants and other eateries made booming business as clients thronged recreational joints to follow the proceedings that took several hours before the results were announced.
“This is just the beginning. The main celebration will take place after the swearing-in ceremony,” said Jane Chemutai, from Turbo, Uasin Gishu County.
Sugoi comes alive
Earlier, in Sugoi, locals had at some point become crestfallen after the announcement, earlier slated for 3pm, was pushed forward.
But as soon as Mr Chebukati declared DP Ruto the winner, they broke into song and dance, forcing security officers guarding the gate to his home to open it as crowds surged and continued overnight into Tuesday.
“This is the best news for us as residents of Sugoi. We did not know Mr Ruto would be declared the winner because the forces which were against him were overwhelming,” said Mr Abraham Tirop, from Siwo village.
“We consider him the light because it is through him that our region has experienced development.”
Mr Barnaba Mining, a Turbo resident, said he travelled over six kilometers to the DP’s Sugoi home just to celebrate.
“This is a historic moment for us and we are glad to have participated in its making. This victory means we will realise economic empowerment because we know his agenda means well for the country,” he said.
“We are thankful to God for answering our prayers and it is through His will Mr Ruto got elected,” he said.
Rose from scratch
Mr Daniel arap Kogo, from Kosachei, said DP Ruto’s rising from scratch to be elected President was humbling.
“We voted for him because we know he means well to us and the entire country. He should serve with impartiality and serve all Kenyans equally and forgive and forget about those who tormented him,” said Mr Kogo.
Hundreds of people streamed to the DP’s residence, where celebrations were expected to continue overnight.
In Baringo, business was brought to a standstill in Kabarnet town in Baringo Central, where hundreds of locals poured onto the streets to celebrate the long-awaited announcement from Mr Chebukati.
The DP’s supporters carried posters with photos of him and chanted praise songs to celebrate his victory following a tough tackle with Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga.
Outgoing Bartabwa MCA Reuben Chepsongol said they voted unanimously for the Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate.
"The elections were free and fair and we were expecting a massive win by the DP. We are happy that the will of Kenyans prevailed," he said, addressing hundreds of supporters.
The DP’s supporters in Nandi also broke into dance and singing on the streets of Kapsabet as the President-elect made his victory speech upon being announced winner.
A huge crowd that had not been witnessed in Kapsabet before emerged, with men and women donning UDA party colours and dancing on the streets. The jubilant crowds crisscrossed the streets, singing praises as soon as the President-elect was declared.
Kapenguria joined the party
The same mood was witnessed in Kapenguria, West Pokot, where the DP’s supporters waved placards and twigs, blowing vuvuzelas, while women staged prayers along the road, thanking God for the win.
Boda boda riders hooted as mama mbogas moved around the town celebrating.
Dickson Ruto said their prayers had been answered despite their preferred leader being humiliated by the state. "Freedom has now come and we are soldering forward," he said.
Mr Ruto called on Azimio One Kenya to accept defeat and join the winning team.
"Ruto has won fairly and Raila Odinga and his team should forget the presidency,” he said.
Jackline Chelagat, a grocer, said Dr Ruto's presidency will save them.
"We are hustlers and we have hope that Ruto will make us climb the ladder. We have suffered for a long time," he said.
Lodwar not let behind
In Lodwar, boda boda riders were not left behind in the celebratory mood in the Turkana town.
Sadan Hassan, a rider, said he voted for Dr Ruto because he promised to uplift the lives of hustlers running small businesses.
"As boda boda operators, we have suffered because many of them are still paying loans for their motorcycles. Upon completing the loans, most of the motorcycles are stolen," Mr Hassan said.
Residents promised to remain calm and peaceful, urging Dr Ruto to serve all Kenyans without bias.
They want him to unite supporters of other presidential candidates and ensure development in counties that didn't vote for him overwhelmingly.
But some Jubilee and ODM supporters in the county were in a sombre mood, urging Mr Odinga to give them the way forward.
"I want Mr Odinga to go to court as some of the IEBC commissioners distanced themselves from the results," Mr Kennedy Oduor said.
By Barnabas Bii, Fred Kibor, Stanley Kimuge, Titus Ominde, Florah Koech, Tom Matoke, Oscar Kakai and Sammy Lutta