: In­trigues ahead of 1963 In­de­pen­dence fete

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - 9 -

Bri­tain was also against the in­vi­ta­tion of East Ger­many, which it did not recog­nise as a sov­er­eign state.

"The point is that we are anx­ious East Ger­many should be kept out at all costs," wrote the Gover­nor.

In­stead, del­e­gates from East Ger­many and na­tion­al­ist China were to be in­vited as in­di­vid­u­als who were not to be ac­corded diplo­matic sta­tus.

The Amer­i­can Con­sulate Gen­eral was con­cerned over the omis­sion of na­tion­al­ist China, and made ap­proaches to Mboya to have del­e­gates from the coun­try at­tend us of­fi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tives, to no suc­cess.

One of the main dif­fi­cul­ties was find­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion for the hun­dreds of in­vited guests. De­spite the gov­ern­ment’s pub­lic ap­peal to pro­vide their houses, only a dozen peo­ple re­sponded. As a re­sult, a leg­is­la­tion giv­ing the gov­ern­ment emer­gency pow­ers to take over houses or premises by com­pul­sion was passed in Parliament. How­ever, full com­pen­sa­tion was to be paid to the owner or lease­hold­ers of any req­ui­si­tioned house.

Just two months to in­de­pen­dence, a sta­dium with a ca­pac­ity of 250,000 peo­ple was built by Dal­gety and New Zealand Loan Ltd on a 195-acre site in Lang’ata for the cel­e­bra­tions. Most ma­te­rial came from Bri­tain while oth­ers were fer­ried in from Uganda, where they had been used in the con­struc­tion of Kololo in­de­pen­dence sta­dium.

The site was erected with sur­pris­ing speed in an area which hith­erto had only been in­hab­ited by wild an­i­mals, and is now known as Uhuru Gar­dens. Six miles of a new mur­ram road were built to pro­vide ac­cess, 6,000 feet of wa­ter pipe were laid, and 80 miles of elec­tric cable con­nected to il­lu­mi­nate the sta­dium. In ad­di­tion, there were fa­cil­i­ties such as a tele­phone exchange, first aid posts and re­fresh­ment kiosks.

On the eve of In­de­pen­dence, Keny­atta and the Duke of Ed­in­burgh were ac­corded Free­dom of the City of Nairobi by Mayor Charles Ru­bia at City Hall, be­fore head­ing to Uhuru Sta­dium for the mid­night cer­e­mony to usher in the new coun­try.

Three hours be­fore the mid­night cer­e­mony, Nairobi ex­pe­ri­enced one of its worst traf­fic jams at the time. Roads lead­ing to the venue were jammed by cars and lor­ries up to a dis­tance of six miles.

In­side the sta­dium, there was a spirit of great gai­ety as an es­ti­mated crowd of 250,000 peo­ple watched mag­nif­i­cent per­for­mances, among them a dis­play of dances by groups from all over Kenya. Keny­atta and the Duke were half an hour late af­ter their cars got stuck in the mud.

One of the big­gest thrills was a mil­i­tary tat­too by the massed bands of the Uganda Ri­fles, Tan­ganyika Army, and Kenya Army. They were joined by Bri­tish Army bands of Stafford­shire Reg­i­ment, Gor­don High­landers and 2nd Bat­tal­ion Scots Guards. In total, there were about 300 mu­si­cians in the arena un­der the di­rec­tion of the Band Master of 1st Bat­tal­ion the Stafford­shire Reg­i­ment War­rant Of­fi­cer l Roy Hunt, as­sisted by African and Bri­tish Drum Ma­jors.

They en­tered the arena play­ing the ‘Great Lit­tle Army’ be­fore break­ing into a quick march to the tune of ‘San Lorenzo’, and then a slow march to Saf­froni’s ‘Im­pe­rial Echoes’. For the grand fi­nale, they played ‘Voice of the Gun’ be­fore march­ing off to the march past of the King's African Ri­fles "Tu­funge Sa­fari."

Af­ter an im­pres­sive dis­play of march­ing, the most sym­bolic event of the cer­e­mony be­gan. The 3rd, 5th and 11th bat­tal­ions of the King's African Ri­fles be­came 3rd, 5th, and 11th bat­tal­ions Kenya Ri­fles in a brief cer­e­mony. The Bri­tish An­them was played as the Duke took the salute af­ter which the old colours of the King's African Ri­fles were trooped for the last time.

Prayers of ded­i­ca­tion were said, and with four min­utes re­main­ing be­fore mid­night, Keny­atta and the Gover­nor walked out of their Pavil­ion into the flood­lit arena for the flag-rais­ing cer­e­mony.

The com­man­der or­dered the guards to present arms, and the Bri­tish An­them was played again. Eu­ro­peans wept as the Union Jack was low­ered for the last time reach­ing the ground just sec­onds be­fore mid­night. At the stroke of mid­night the Kenyan Na­tional An­them was of­fi­cially played for the first time and the new flag hoisted above the sta­dium as the tense ex­pec­tant crowd broke into ju­bi­la­tion.

The birth of the new na­tion was her­alded by a mag­nif­i­cent fire­works dis­play de­signed by Brock’s Fire­works Ltd of Lon­don. Prime Minister Keny­atta's por­trait was ac­cu­rately de­picted in lines of bril­liant fire, ‘Glory of Kenya’ was de­picted by three huge shells and the flag of Kenya car­ried out in lines of coloured fire.

In a wind of Change that was sweep­ing across Africa, a new na­tion was born. Kenya be­came the 34th coun­try to break from colo­nial rule and was soon to be ad­mit­ted to the United Na­tions as the 113th mem­ber.

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