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Suddenly, the President is here

Wednesday March 25 2015

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It’s Friday morning and you’re in the office, answering emails, and reviewing reports ahead of a crucial afternoon meeting. Then someone rushes in and says, “Put your laptops down, the President is coming.”  

No one asks any question, but as people jump up and start to clean up the breakfast plates and coffee cups, you can already hear the police sirens coming up the road.

The garbage pail is hidden away, the drinking water drums which had just been delivered are carried away to another room and a demo area is set up on a conference table.

When you have an unexpected guest, there will be no time to hide away all your home or office quirks. Like the pieces of equipment strewn about, the flag which attracts attention at some airports, the sign above the door that every visitor takes a picture of, and the large liquor collection on the bookshelf that prompts delivery messengers to stare and ask if the bottles' contents are genuine.

You just hope that these items don’t attract too much attention and quickly set up a demonstration area of the products that he has come to see, with laptops and devices powered up, and staff nearby and ready to answer any questions.

The building has many offices and apparently the President is getting the full tour, office by office. No one knows exactly where he is, and you actually check Twitter to see where he might be.

You read messages sent by people upstairs who had the shock of their lives when they looked up and the President was next to their table. They did not receive the five-minute notice of the visit that we did and are now tweeting as if they’ve seen a ghost.


A few minutes later there is buzz of voices in the corridor, and in he walks - the President of Kenya in a casual blue shirt and with his hand in his pocket. He listens intently and asks a few questions every now and then, on how this can link with the government plans and what the government can do to help.

He smiles, and greets everyone warmly, more so the people he’s known from before.  Wherever he is, there is a seamless dance by his team, on the edge of his circle of aides, guards, and photographers.

Like a flower that blooms in a few seconds, they appear wherever the President goes, and quietly direct and coordinate the brief encounter that now incorporates office people showing and telling the President what they do. And a few minutes later, they close up the circle as the President steps out and follow him on to the next office, where they will repeat the choreography.

Ms Leo Mutuku (left) of iHub Research and Ms

Ms Leo Mutuku (left) of iHub Research and Ms Juliana Rotich make a point to President Kenyatta during his unannounced his visit to the iHub on March 20, 2015. PHOTO | IHUB | COURTESY

After he’s gone, there are deep breaths exhaled and debriefs of the visit. As with any impromptu moment that has gone very well, people still wish they had remembered to say one or two more things.

The President seems happy with what he saw, but there’s no celebratory toast today, as there is work to do and the afternoon meeting is back to being the focus of the day.

The President was in Japan a few days ago, and later you learn from the news that he landed in Namibia a few hours after the office visit.

Later on there’s an attempt to see what photos were captured. There was no notice of the visit, so you had to be there in the same way you dressed up when you left home early on a routine Friday morning. There are also wails by staff who were out of the office: “The President was here? Why didn’t you call me?”

So, for everyone reading this, dress your best and have your elevator pitch ready, just in case the President, or any other influential person, comes calling.

Twitter: @bankelele