NAIROBI – Tight security was mounted in Kenya yesterday, as the new Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn into office, amid thunderous applause rarely witnessed before in the country, as he succeded president Mwai Kibaki who served this East African nation for 10 years, in a smooth and peaceful transition of power.
Security survellance was particularly placed around the Nairobi Moi Sports Complex where Kenyatta’s inauguration took place.
A helicopter flew overhead monitoring the goings on as the historic event progressed.
However, there were no incidents of violence in any part of this East African country.
Presidential loser Raila Odinga, who left the country for South Africa on Saturday, ahead of the colourful fete, accompanied by former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Senator-elect Moses Wetangula, did not attend the ceremony despite having been invited by the government.
Ironically, as the trio flew to Southern nation to keep away from the important event in their own country after suffering defeat from president Kenyatta, the South African leader Jacob Zuma jetted into Kenya to attend the ceremony, to a thunderous welcome.
Also sworn in was the deputy president William Ruto at the ceremony attended by thousands of people, African and world leaders.
Renown American civil rights leader the Rev Jesse Jackson, who was a special guest of president Kenyatta, was also present as were South African president Jacob Zuma, Zimbabwe’s Jacob Zuma, Southern Sudan’s Salva Kiir, Uganda’s president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (who read a special speech on behalf of African leader’s), Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, among others.
European and American diplomats were also in attendance as well as other high-ranking dignitaries from across the world and prime ministers.
Former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi, who ruled for a record 24-years, was also present, as was former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda, who was a close friend of Kenya’s founding president, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, and father of president Uhuru Kenyatta.
Several government officials from various countries were also present, representing African Heads of State who were unable to attend, owing to serious government committments.
As president Kenyatta took the oath of office in the special session witnessed by the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and president of the Supreme Court, he pledged to protect the constitution, and to uphold the dignity and sovereignty of the country.
“I will do justice to all in accordance with the country’s constitution, as by law established, and without favour, affection or ill-will”, president Kenyatta pledged, amid thunderous applause, ululation, jubilation, wild clapping and rapturous feet-thumping from the crowd.
Later, the military led by the Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi, handed president Kenyatta the instruments of power and authority at a special ceremony witnessed by the Chief Justice.
This was a significant part of the ceremony as the new president was handed the Commander-in-Chief’s sword signifying that he was the new boss of the military after the former president.
The crowd burst into wild ululation, song and dance as president Kenyatta displayed the glistening sword before the tens of thousands people and dignitaries present, as millions watched from their television sets at home and other parts of Africa.
Religious leaders prayed for president Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto to overcome challenges and stem the vices of corruption and tribalism that have affected the country for long.
There was music galore to mark the hand-over ceremony.
Performers were drawn from traditional dancers to youthful and talented artists, as well as popular gospel musicians.
It was a ceremony to behold and what will be the subject of discussion for years, as history was recorded.
The occasion had an enticing menu in a repertoire crafted to aptly illustrate the positive face of Africa at large, as benevolent sunrays shone overhead, soothing the nerves and the muscles consolingly, relaxing them into semi-limbo.