TBT – Kenya Promulgation Ceremony
It was a cold Friday morning, the 27th of August 2010. It’s a day that had been awaited with much anticipation and excitement. It had been named the rebirth of Kenya, and it felt like it. The only other time the country was so united in celebration was at independence. So Uhuru Park was definitely the place to be on Promulgation Day.
I was in Nairobi’s CBD before sunrise and there were already throngs of Kenyans trooping towards Uhuru Park, clad in our flag’s colours and waving the beautiful flag. There was a joyful spring in every step people made. Like walking away from an oppressive past, hundreds upon thousands marched to a brighter future that the new constitution promised. It didn’t matter what tribe one was, or religion, or social standing, we were all Kenyan. This was the original #WeAreOne.
I met up with double brother Ken Oloo to capture the moments of this great day. After a thorough security search, we made our way into Uhuru Park. We didn’t have the accreditation needed for us to shoot from the designated press areas so we simply shot whatever interested our eyes. Not having accreditation became a blessing because we were able to provide a unique perspective of what was happening.
Our lack of accreditation however found us on the ‘wrong’ side of the law. An overzealous plainclothes policeman ‘arrested’ us for shooting military vehicles that were parked near the Haile Selassie Avenue entrance to Uhuru Park. We found it odd because in a couple of hours, these tanks and humvees were to be paraded for the world to see. We saw the humour in it and laughed it off as he handed us over to a Military Police officer who escorted us out of the Park. As he did, we chatted casually on the importance of this day, hopes for the future and made our way back into Uhuru Park through the Uhuru Highway entrance.
Before the C in C arrived, these Army men took photos that would remind them of this great day.
Shortly thereafter, the dignitaries started arriving in limousines bearing the names of the countries they were from. Uganda, Comoros, Sudan… Wait, Sudan? Wasn’t Bashir a man wanted by the ICC? I guess he also saw the importance of this celebration and wasn’t going to miss it.
When President Kibaki lifted the new constitution documents at 10.28am, wild cheers rent the air for the next couple of minutes. These were punctuated by a 21-gun salute by the military as the flag was hoisted at the Uhuru Park viewpoint.
Raila Amolo Odinga takes his oath of office as Prime Minister.
Kalonzo Musyoka takes his oath of office as Vice President.
Shooting these tanks earlier is what got Ken and I ‘arrested’.
When Emmy Kosgei performed Taunet Nelel, the whole Park stood up and danced along, dignitaries included.
First Lady Lucy Kibaki.
I don’t think Uhuru Kenyatta had the slightest idea he would be President a short three years later.
His Excellency Daniel Toriotich arap Moi.
I got to talk to one old man at Uhuru Park who’d been at Uhuru Gardens on 12th December 1963 when the Kenyan flag was raised for the first time and the Union Jack brought down. He shared how the promulgation ceremony reminded him of that day 47 years ago. How he’d been caught up in the euphoria of the celebrations that he walked with the crowds until Nairobi West only to realise he’d forgotten his car at Uhuru Gardens and had to walk back against the crowd of thousands to get back to it.
27th August 2010 was indeed a great day for this country. It was the birth of the second republic and the promulgation of a constitution we all celebrated then and are poking holes at now.