Send-off ceremonies for President Uhuru Kenyatta have begun as he completes his 10-year term ahead of the August 9 General Election.
Yesterday, the Head of State hosted military bosses and media executives at Uhuru Gardens, where he explained the reasons behind the refurbishment of the facility in Langata.
The event was preceded by a Sunday State House dinner with staff.
At the dinner on Sunday, the President thanked the staff for their commitment and dedication to serving the nation.
“On my own behalf, the First Lady and my entire family, we are grateful to all of you, all departments of State House, for we have worked very well together. We shall miss each one of you, and we will carry fond memories of working together in the service of our nation. It has, indeed, been a great pleasure and a great joy working with you because if you are working in an environment where you are happy, you are also able to deliver,” President Kenyatta said.
The inter-faith prayer service was attended by State House staff from all State Houses and State Lodges led by State House Comptroller Kinuthia Mbugua and Chief of Staff in the Office of the First Lady Constance Gakonyo.
Yesterday, President Kenyatta begun the phased opening of Uhuru Gardens National Monument and Museum that will see its doors open to the public from next month.
President Kenyatta thanked the team of architects involved in the refurbishment of the grounds into a 21st Century district that celebrates every aspect of the Kenyan society.
He recalled that on the day the plans for the gardens were being hatched, he drove to the gardens — accompanied by former Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe and current CDF General Robert Kibochi — and upon arriving at the entrance, he rolled down his car’s window and the person manning the entrance asked him “mnataka masaa ngapi?” (how long do you need the place?), which he said shows the kind of activities that were taking place.
The President said that mess has now been cleared and the facility now boasts one of the continent’s largest museums.
“It shouldn’t be just a learning place but also a place where we enjoy ourselves and hold national celebrations,” said President Kenyatta while leading a team of journalists from local and international media on the first stakeholder validation process yesterday.
He added: “It shall be a place of who we are. I hope it shall also be a place for media to validate their stories, come see for yourself and be able to report based on facts — not hearsay — and enrich your profession. This is something we have missed in our country for a long time.”
President Kenyatta said his wish is that the next government will understand the value of the facility and continue with its expansion plans.
General Kibochi said that once completed, the facility will host 2.2 million visitors annually.
Currently, access will be limited to targeted groups comprising the media, scholars, former freedom fighters, students and players in key ministries such as ICT, Education and Tourism as they are expected to offer a review of the facility and propose further refurbishments ahead of its full operationalisation mid next year.
At the moment, the facility boasts of 16 museums comprising a people’s museum, presidential galleries of the three former presidents, a military gallery, a tunnel of martyrs, a tomb of known and unknown warriors heroes, including the late Wangari Maathai, author Ken Walibora and journalist Philip Ochieng.
Once complete, the facility will host 33 galleries that will also showcase Kenya’s innovations and a role gallery with houses representing the 1,000 people who were hanged during the state of emergency.
Access rates to the venue will be shared after a public participation exercise.
A peace and unity sculpture and an environmental conservation sculpture will also feature at the 68-acre garden.
Plans are also underway to have stolen artefacts repatriated from Europe and America. They include the man eaters of the Tsavo that currently are in Chicago Museum.
The facility will be run by a multli-agency team including the Kenya Defence Forces, National Police Service and National Museums of Kenya.
Heroes remains will not be brought to the gardens but they will be represented by tombstones or have their names engraved around the tomb of matyrs.
At the State House event, President Kenyatta urged those who will remain to support the incoming administration.
“The government, the country cannot stop. It will move on. We took the mantle from others and we shall pass it on to others because the country must move forward. Just like the way we found many of you here, we shall leave many of you here. Mine is to request you to accord the same cooperation to the new administration,” he said.
Additional reporting by PSCU