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Rallies that turned heads in Uhuru Park

‘Kibaki Tosha’ rally October 14, 2002

Three days before what would turn out to be a political game changer, Kanu Secretary General Raila Odinga had called a meeting of what was then known as the Rainbow Alliance at KICC, the then Kanu headquarters.

The meeting brought together renegade Kanu politicians led by Mr Odinga himself, Cabinet ministers Kalonzo Musyoka and William Ole Ntimama, former Vice President, Prof George Saitoti, and a host of MPs including J.J. Kamotho and Fred Gumo.

There, Mr Odinga announced that they would not attend the Kanu National Delegates Conference scheduled for the next Monday.

Come Monday and Nairobi witnessed one of the biggest crowds ever to grace a political rally in the country’s post-independence history.

Those in attendance were pleasantly surprised to see then National Alliance party of Kenya (NAK) luminaries Mwai Kibaki, the late Wamalwa Kijana and Charity Ngilu as well as Ford People leader Simeon Nyachae.

This prompted a chorus of ‘Yote yawezakana bila Moi’. It is at the end of that function that Mr Odinga made the famous declaration “Kibaki Tosha”.

Kibaki swearing in, December 30, 2002

On December 30, 2002, Kenya’s third president, Mr Mwai Kibaki, was sworn in before one of the biggest crowds ever witnessed in Kenya’s history, estimated at a record 500,000.

Images of Mr Kibaki seated on a wheelchair and his broken leg in a cast following a near fatal road accident will linger in the minds of the multitude that thronged the Uhuru Park grounds and the millions others who followed the event on television across the world.

The new president was sworn in by then Chief Justice Bernard Chunga and then head of Civil Service, Dr Sally Kosgei.

Some of the notable figures at the function were regional Heads of State at the time Benjamin Mkapa (Tanzania), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Levi Mwanawasa (Zambia) and the Prime Minister of Rwanda, Bernard Makuza while South Africa’s then First Lady, Mrs Zanele Mbeki, represented her husband, Mr Thabo Mbeki.

Mr Kibaki followed with his speech, delivered from his wheelchair, promising a new beginning after years of “misrule and ineptitude’’.

“The task ahead is enormous, the expectations are high, the challenges are intimidating. But I know that with your support and co-operation, we shall turn our problems into opportunities,’’ he said.

Promulgation of Constitution 2010

Another big event — promulgation of the Constitution — took place on August 27, 2010 at the same grounds.

In attendance were scores of regional heads of state and government including Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Salva Kiir (South Sudan) and Omar el Bashir (Sudan).

“This is the most important day in the history of our nation since Independence,” then President Kibaki declared.”

Moi swearing-in on October 1978

The swearing-in ceremony for Kenya’s second President, Daniel Moi, was presided over by the then Chief Justice Sir James Wicks and televised and aired live to thousands of Kenyans by the national broadcaster — the Voice of Kenya.

Flanked by Sir James and the High Court Registrar, Mr Moi took the presidential oath of allegiance followed by the new V-P Mwai Kibaki.