Uhuru Kenyatta leads Kenya in marking 55 years of self-rule

What you need to know:

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have already arrived at the venue from which Mr Kenyatta is expected to address the nation.

  • Mr Kenyatta arrived in style, dressed in the official and ceremonial Kenya Army full service red tunic for the five-star general.

Kenya on Wednesday marked 55 years after attaining its independence from Britain in 1963.

The national celebrations, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta, were being held at Nyayo stadium in the capital Nairobi.

Mr Kenyatta, the commander-in-chief of Kenya's Defence Forces, for the first time sported full military regalia during a national function.

Mr Kenyatta arrived in style, dressed in the official and ceremonial Kenya Army full service red tunic for five-star general, inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Defence Forces. 

The symbolic dressing signalled the task ahead for the commander-in-chief: Presentation of presidential colours and honours to Kenya Army's 17 Battalion.

President Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret leave State House for Nyayo for the celebrations. PHOTO | PSCU

He is the third Kenyan president to preside over a national event in full military uniform, after his father and Kenya's founding President Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi, Mzee Jomo's successor.

Mr Kenyatta's predecessor Mwai Kibaki (2003-2013) did not appear in public in any military regalia.

President Kenyatta, the commander-in-chief of Kenya's Defence Forces in full military regalia (left) and General Samson Mwathethe, the Chief of Defence, at Nyayo on December 12, 2018. PHOTO | PSCU

The president also held a sword in his left hand as he inspected the guard of honour.

Still holding the sword, Mr Kenyatta, in yet another unusual gesture, saluted before shaking hands with opposition leaders and his bitter rival in 2018 elections Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula. 

President Kenyatta meets opposition leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula at Nyayo. PHOTO | PSCU

Unlike last year when the turnout was very low, the stands at Nyayo Stadium were full even before the guests arrived, signalling a huge interest in the national holiday compared to other years

Kenyans follow Jamhuri Day celebrations at Nyayo stadium in Nairobi on December 12, 2018. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

After the guard of honour, the Kenya Army 17 Battalion was presented with the presidential colours and given the honours to troop its own.

The 17 Battalion is a unit in the Kenya Army born in 2009, and in 2010, the unit colour was approved to be purple.

Maumau war veterans during Jamhuri Day celebrations to start at Chuka Boys High school in Tharaka-Nithi County.  PHOTO | ALEX NJERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

When a unit or base is designated to troop its colour, it becomes an honour to the regiment/base as it is able to showcase its colours in a ceremony known as Trooping Of The Colour, the Kenya Defence Forces explained in a statement. 

The presidential colour is trooped on special days such as Jamhuri Day.

Kenyans follow Jamhuri Day celebrations at 64 Stadium in Eldoret on December 12, 2018. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In the ceremony, the colours are marched in under escort of the colour party to the edge of parade.

It is ceremoniously received by the unit/regimental/base sergeant major who hands over the colours to the colour officers.

Mandera AP Commander Suleiman Rashid, deputy county commissioner Lawrence Omondi, Governor Ali Roba and police commander Bernard Nyakwaka during Jamhuri Day celebrations.   PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

During trooping, every soldier on parade has a close view of the colour as it passes while paying the highest possible honour by presenting arms in salute.

In military tradition, the whole ceremony is one of symbolic trust given to a unit/base.

Nakuru Governer Lee Kinyanjui together with County Commissioner Joshua Nkanatha during the celebrations at Afraha Stadium.  PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Besides the main event in the capital, Jamhuri Day was also marked in Kenya's 47 counties.

In Kiambu County, the well-attended celebrations were held at Thika stadium.

The colourful event was led by the provincial administration, headed by the county commissioner Wilson Wanyanga.

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and Thika Town MP Patrick Wainaina join traditional dancers in a jig at Thika stadium during the celebrations. PHOTO | MARY WAMBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Area Governor Ferdinand Waititu and area MP Patrick Wainaina also attended the event.

Mr Waititu urged Kiambu residents to assist the less fortunate during this festive season and live in harmony.

Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia joins traditional dancers at Kipipiri stadium during Jamhurli Day Celebrations. PHOTO | WAIKWA MAINA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In Narok, County Commissioner George Natembeya said testing of school girls will be mandatory when the schools re-open in January.

This, he said, is meant “to curb teenage pregnancies”, without giving details.

Kakamega County Commissioner Abdi Jaldesa and Governor Wycliffe Oparanya salute Jamhuri Day parade at Bukhungu stadium. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

He also thanked the residents for cooperating with the security agencies by surrendering illegally acquired firearms in a bid to stem insecurity.

In Laikipia, the celebrations were held at Rumuruti stadium and were led by Governor Murithi Nderitu and County Commissioner Onesmus Mutisya.

Kisii County Governor James Ongwae, his wife Elizabeth Ongwae and Deputy Governor Joash Maangi join a dance by local artiste Embarambamba during the Jamuhuri Day celebrations at Gusii Stadium. PHOTO | MAGATI OBEBO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In Nakuru, Governor Lee Kinyanjui officiated the function at Afraha Stadium.

Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia led the fete at Kipipiri stadium where calls for compensation of Mau Mau war veterans dominated.

Reports by Patrick Langat, Kennedy Kimathi, Mary Wambui, George Sayagie, Steve Njuguna, Waikwa Maina, Joseph Openda and Harry Misiko.