Independence in the air all over again as flag goes to Mt Kenya after 47 years

Tuesday August 24 2010

File | NATION Nation journalists during a previous climb of Mt Kenya, where 22 Kenyans will deposit a copy of the new Constitution on Friday.

How will you celebrate the rebirth of the Kenyan nation on Friday, when the President promulgates the new Constitution?

Some Kenyans are never short of unique ways of marking such important events.

To etch the memories of this day in their minds for the rest of their lives and for the memory of the future generations, 22 adventurous Kenyans will mark the day at Mount Kenya’s Lenana Point.

With an elevation of 4,985 metres above sea level, Lenana is the third highest peak of Mt Kenya after Batian which is 5,199 metres above sea level and Nelion which is lower by about 10 metres.

While only professional climbers can access Batian and Nelion, determined amateurs often opt for Lenana which lies on the eastern side of its sister peaks.

From Point Lenana, hikers can catch a breath-taking sunrise and a panoramic view of the country. It is this magical feeling that the 22 will be seeking to tap as they welcome the dawn of a new Kenya.


The group, led by Mt Kenya Tourism Circuit Association, will deposit the new Constitution here by the time President Kibaki officially proclaims it at a colourful ceremony at Uhuru Park in Nairobi.

Glass casing

“We will put the new Constitution in a glass casing which is supported by some masonry structure, where it will be visible to all visitors and safe from the elements,” Mr Simon Wachira, the association’s chief executive officer, says.

The group is inspired by the need to epitomise the long process that Kenyans have gone through to get the new Constitution.

“The new Constitution has not been given on a silver platter. Its organic process demanded a constant and sacrificial reminder,” he says.

It is Mr Wachira who conceived the idea, and since then, support has been growing.

Among the supporters are the Kenya Wildlife Service, Bantu Mountain Rock Hotel, Marketing Society of Kenya, Magnate Ventures, Brand Kenya, Best of Kenya and Flying Doctors.

Among those who will be taking part are five members of staff from MSK, six KWS officers and seven journalists from various media houses.

The wildlife agency is putting up a monument with Sh50,000 from the Tourism Trust Fund (TTF) and will also provide rescuers in case of an emergency.

The TTF is, in addition, footing the cost of each climber at Sh10,000, and a cocktail party after the event.

Central provincial commissioner Japhter Rugut is expected to flag off the group at Sirimon Gate located nine kilometres off the Nanyuki- Meru road today.

From there, the hikers, each of them supported by a porter, will walk through a tropical forest for another nine kilometres to Old Moses Camp which is located in the moorland where they will spend the night.

On Thursday, the trekkers will move through valleys to Shipton Camp at the base of the peaks.

In many ways the occasion will resemble the ushering in of independence 47 years ago when the late Kisoi Munyao hoisted the Kenya flag on Batian Peak on the midnight of December 1963.

Batian Peak is normally visible from Lenana, from where the group of 22 will mark the country’s second liberation.

“The new Constitution at Point Lenana will be significant for national cohesion and development. It will be a symbol of our unity and determination for integration,” says Mr Wachira.

The climbers will crack the fireworks to usher in the big day at midnight, while still at Shipton Camp. In the morning, they will ascend to Lenana, a climb that will take them between one and two hours.

To the circuit association, apart from celebrating the rebirth of the nation, it will be an important marketing point for the physical feature that attracts few domestic tourists.

The association hopes the monument hosting the new Constitution on the highest point in the country will add to the number of historical tourism products on the mountain which is a world heritage site.

Mr Wachira says the objective is to increase the number of domestic visitors to the mountain by 10 per cent.

According to him the new Constitution will be an addition to the three attractions that pull visitors to the mountain; the flag hoisted by Mr Munyao, the natural altitude and the cross of the missionaries.

The climb should demystify the mountain and give more Kenyans a reason to ascend to the third highest point in the country and symbolically get a glimpse of the long journey to realising a rebirth of the nation.