Foreign leaders to grace Kibaki State funeral in Nairobi
Thousands of Kenyans are expected to throng the Nyayo National Stadium this morning to bid farewell to former President Mwai Kibaki who died last Friday.
Today’s memorial service – the first of two State funerals – will be led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and is expected to be graced by several foreign dignitaries including Heads of State, People Daily has established.
ODM leader Raila Odinga cut short his visit to the United States to attend today’s service.
According to the National Funeral Steering Committee chaired by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, all plans for today’s memorial service and tomorrow’s burial in Othaya, Nyeri, are complete.
The military gun carriage and State funeral procession will this morning make its way from State House, Nairobi to the stadium, the venue of the ceremony.
The service will be inter-denominational but led by the Catholic Church.
According to the programme, Kibaki will be accorded full military honours including the conveyance of the body under escort in a gun carriage, accompanied by military musical honours and a 19 gun-salute.
A similar service will be held in Othaya tomorrow (Saturday) before his internment at a private ceremony at his home.
“We request all members of the public to be seated by 8am because we want to start early so that those who have to travel out of town are able to go back to their homes early enough. The funeral service is expected to end at 1pm,” Matiang’i said during the committee’s press conference on Wednesday.
The CS, who was accompanied by Chief of Defence Forces General Robert Kibochi, senior military and State officials, reiterated that the funeral programme will be strict and guided by military protocols.
“You know the military doesn’t leave anything to chance. Everything is prepared and planned and we have a script by which we are going to connect ourselves. So I want to ask those who will join us on Friday and Saturday to understand that what we are planning is a State funeral which follows a particular protocol. The only other protocol that is allowed is that of the church that will conduct the Mass,” he added.
Matiang’i further revealed, without elaborating, that the late president’s family had made specific requests regarding the funeral programme which wishes, he said, would be granted.
“We would like all of us to respect the family and all the requests they have made,” said Matiang’i.
He added that the military would be in charge of the programme.
Tomorrow, the body of the former President will be transported to Othaya Approved School via road.
Security officials from the National Police Service and other agencies will man the route to ensure safety.
“They have all rehearsed and have been placed at the points where they are going to be. We do not anticipate that anything will go wrong,” the CS explained.
Nairobi traffic during Kibaki's State funeral
The National Police Service yesterday announced that Uhuru Highway will be closed for the entire duration of today’s service and advised motorists to use alternative roads to their destinations.
In a statement sent to newsrooms yesterday, Police Spokesman Bruno Shioso said traffic is likely to be heavy and advised motorists to use Aerodrome Road and a section of Uhuru Highway between Nyayo House and Lusaka roundabouts from 7am.
Shioso said motorists driving to the Central Business District from Waiyaki Way and intending to cross over to Mombasa Road are advised to avoid Uhuru Highway and divert at Nyayo House roundabout then proceed towards City Stadium onwards to Mombasa road.
Those from Mombasa Road intending to access the CBD or Westlands are advised to use Southern Bypass or Likoni Enterprise and Lusaka roads to avoid inconveniences along Uhuru Highway.
“A procession to the stadium led by Kenya Defense Forces will affect the flow of traffic on some parts of the processional route, namely Processional Way, Kenyatta Avenue, Uhuru Highway, Aerodrome Road as they proceed to the stadium,” said Shioso.
Meanwhile, intellectuals, church and political leaders and university students yesterday gathered during a requiem mass at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology in Nyeri to eulogise Kibaki and condole with his family.
Vice-Chancellor Ndirangu Kioni remembered the former Head of State as one who, with a great sense of responsibility, parented the institution from its inception as a technical institute in 1972 when he mobilised professionals to fundraise for its construction.
Prof Kioni said were it not for Kibaki, the university would not be where it is today, saying his legacy will be celebrated by future generations.
Kibaki served in the institution’s Board of Trustees that oversaw the acquisition of assets including expansion land in readiness to start the university.
Upon handing the charter to the university in 2009, President Kibaki became the first person to be awarded a honorary PhD degree.
The VC reminisced how President Kibaki rejected a proposal to have the university named after him.
He said that Kibaki instead proposed that the university be named after Mau Mau hero Dedan Kimathi to honour his contribution to independence struggle.
“President Kibaki was a great, selfless leader who was sharp and focused. Through him, I was able learn a lot,” he said.
Laikipia Governor Nderitu Muriithi, who attended the event as Kibaki’s family member, caused laughter when he eulogised his uncle as a person one was better off avoiding if you were not prepared intellectually.
Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga also recalled how Kibaki rejected requests from local leaders that the Othaya Level Six Hospital be named after him.
Kahiga said Kibaki’s rejection of the request was relayed with a loaded message that he did not wish to share with the mourners.
“The hospital was later named Kenyatta National Hospital Annex. Nyeri leaders had sent to tell President Kibaki that people wanted the hospital named after him. The feedback he gave was so harsh that I cannot share it with you,” he said.
The university chaplain Father Vincent Kung’u eulogised the former Othaya MP as a deeply religious man who knew when to bow before the Lord and when to rule the country.
“We will remember him as a man who had many firsts. But above all, we will hail him as a leader who excelled in both wisdom and discernment,” Kung’u said.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu and his Ndaragwa counterpart Jeremiah Kioni also eulogised Kibaki as a man who put the interests of the nation before his personal interests.