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Gospel singer Emmy brought an apt message

Friday August 27 2010

Traditional Dancers during the promulgation of the new constitution at Uhuru Park in Nairobi. PHOTO/STEPHEN MUDIARI

Traditional Dancers during the promulgation of the new constitution at Uhuru Park in Nairobi. PHOTO/STEPHEN MUDIARI  

By WALTER MENYA [email protected]

Taunet ne lel — a new beginning — was gospel musician Emmy Kosgey’s message on Friday as Kenya welcomed a new
constitution after a 20-year wait.

The Groove Award winner took Uhuru Park by storm, literally dragging dignitaries and the crowd to their feet. Perhaps only former UN chief Kofi Annan, President Kibaki and retired president Moi did not rise.

First Lady Lucy Kibaki was visibly impressed and danced along to the song Taunet ne lel so.

So were Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Cabinet ministers and other dignitaries, with several taking a cue from the First Lady.

As the dignitaries danced away to the award winning song, the cameras focused on a smiling Higher Education minister William Ruto, who clapped and sang along as Emmy sang her heart out.

Emmy’s electric performance was followed by singer Eric Wainaina who sang Daima Kenya, a song that became almost like an anthem during Kenya’s post-election violence period in 2008 though it was released much earlier.

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Wainaina’s composition calls Kenyans to nationhood and unity.

The last to entertain the guests was the Statehouse Choir of 120 members which joined leading artistes in performing the song Kenya, My Kenya written by Achieng’ Abura for the occasion.

Other musicians in the mass choir were JuaCali, Eric Wainaina, Nameless, Amani, Size 8 and Kayamba Africa.

For over 20 years, Kenyans have waited for a new constitution. The chilly weather was just fit for the occasion.

Earlier, the crowds were entertained by the Armed Forces Band, school choirs, poetry and cultural dancers from across the country.

Liberation and sports heroes and heroines led by a team of victorious athletes marched passed the dais.

Called for his arrest

Celebrated Kenyan female boxer Conjestina Achieng had earlier made a triumphant entry, shadowboxing to the delight of the crowd that started arriving at the park as early as 4.00am.

To ensure no one missed out, local TV stations screened the event live. The media houses went a mile further by hiring sign language translators.

Probably the only blemish in yesterday’s celebrations was the presence of Sudanese President Hassan Omar al-Bashir which was condemned by local and international human rights groups as well as a group of legislators.

Led by Human Rights Watch, the International Center for Transitional Justice-Kenya and the International Center for Conflict and Policy called for his arrest.

Mr al-Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2008 for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.

He has two arrest warrants against him issued by the court at The Hague.

Earlier, the crowd welcomed dignitaries as they made their way into Uhuru Park. The loudest cheers were reserved for Prime Minister Odinga, who arrived at 9.00am with his wife Idah and their children.

On the other hand, the loudest jeers were for retired president Daniel Moi. Mr Moi arrived at Uhuru Park at 8.30am, his first visit since December 30, 2002 when he handed over the reins of power to President Kibaki after 24 years at the helm.

On setting eyes on him, the crowd booed and heckled the former president. They also broke into a song Yote Yawezekana Bila Moi, a Narc campaign theme song in 2002.

Master of ceremonies Mr Sammy Lui was forced to intervene to stop the humiliation of the former president.

President Kibaki arrived shortly after the visiting heads of state who included Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Zanzibar’s Sheikh Abeid Karume, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Sudan’s al- Bashir and Union of Comoros’ Ahmed Abdalla Sambi.

The promulgation ceremony began soon after.

And after the formalities, President Kibaki, Mr Odinga, Mr Musyoka, Chief Justice Evan Gicheru and head of civil service Mr Francis Muthaura were sworn in.