Madaraka Day Memories That Shaped Uhuru, Raila Politics

  • Meru County is hosting the 2018 Madaraka Day Celebrations to be graced by both President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto at the Kinoru Stadium, a day after the leaders graced a national prayer day marked with hugs and reconciliatory messages galore at Safari Park Hotel.

    This happened as a section of Kenyans took it to the streets in protest of dozens of corruption reports.

    The National day has been used in the recent past years to shape the country's politics and this year's fete is at the center of political intrigues following President Uhuru's Unity deal with the Opposition's Raila Odinga but the two have differed over the persistent calls for a referendum.

    Former President Moi's son has also sent a message after holding closed-door talks with Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, both of whom are eyeing the presidency.

    Kenyans.co.ke looks back at how the day meant to celebrate the country's liberation has been used shape the country's politics from leaders' speeches and key occurrences that kept many engaged by the unpredictable political class.

       1. The Raila Snub

    The Opposition leader was ignored during the 2017 Madaraka Day celebrations held in Nyeri county.

    President Kenyatta and the DP snubbed the opposition leader, failed to recognize his presence and did not counter any criticism from the opposition as has been the norm.

    Mr. Odinga, in return, downplayed the act stating: “I received an invitation to attend the national day celebrations and I honored it. It was their responsibility to recognize me. I leave it to the people to judge the way they handled the issue. I don’t want to appear to be complaining. The event was not supposed to be a Jubilee party affair. Honestly, I would have handled it differently."

    [caption caption="Raila Odinga with Johnson Kavuludi in Nyeri "][/caption]

     Leaders from across the political divide were in attendance as organisers skipped the opposition leader denying him a chance to address the gathering at a time the country's politics was superheated ahead of the General Election.

      2. Locked-out Governor 

    The 2017 celebrations in Meru County were not attended by the then Meru Governor Peter Munya.

    Munya, with his PNU Party, had befriended the opposition coalition NASA in what brew a fierce battle with Jubilee party's Kiraitu Murungi.

    The former governor accused the national government of intentionally leaving him out of the event's planning as a way of frustrating him for daring to work with NASA leaders.

    Now serving in government as a Cabinet Secretary, Munya's homecoming is scheduled for June 2 and the Head of State is expected to preside over the event after the national holiday before leaving Meru.

      3. Unpaid Entertainers

    In the same 2017 celebrations, Nyeri County government came under public scrutiny over reports of alleged shortchanging of at least 400 women that entertained the president and the crowd at the ceremony.

    The singers accused the county government of pledging a Sh6,000 pay and ending up dishing out Sh500 to each of them.

     4. Unga Shortage Protests

    Last year, when a food crisis hit the country, Jubilee Government subsidized Unga. A number of households moved to buy in bulk and cleared the cheaper maize meals from shelves.

    The shortage led to protests that swallowed the Madaraka Day celebrations in Kisumu. The County Commissioner had a hard time reading the President's speech as locals broke into protests over the Sh90 Unga that could not be found in shops in Kisumu and areas perceived opposition strongholds. 

    [caption caption="Raila Odinga shops at empty maize floor shelves due to shortage "][/caption]

     5. Raila-Uhuru Surprise Statehouse Luncheon

    Just a day to the 53rd Madaraka Day celebration, President Kenyatta invited the then agitated Opposition leader to a surprise State House luncheon. The Odinga-led CORD at the time insisted they would hold a parallel Madaraka gathering at Uhuru Park. 

    Mr Odinga, in the company of Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula, honoured the short-notice invite to meet the visiting South Korea President Geun Hye at State house but did not join the president and his deputy at Afraha Stadium for the celebrations where he had a reservation at the podium.

    [caption caption="Opposition leaders at State House luncheon "][/caption]

    DP Ruto, during the Afraha Stadium celebrations held side by side with that of the opposition at Uhuru Park, condemned the Odinga-team for leading street protests in demand for electoral reforms before the 2017 General Election.

    ODM's Nairobi governor at the time Evans Kidero had given the opposition a go ahead to use the venue while government deployed a heavy contingent of police to secure those turning up for the opposition's Madaraka day rally.