#TBT: The day Uhuru removed shoes to join pupils dancing barefoot


Uhuru Kenyatta
Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta is regarded by many as one of the coolest presidents Kenya has ever had, and with good reason.

Since his ascent to presidency, Uhuru Kenyatta has often proven his easy-going nature; making the State House, once considered out-of-bounds, very homely and accessible.

From his dressing, sometimes he is seen in a t-shirt and jeans in functions, to his talk about realpolitik in Kenya and his travels, Uhuru has broken from the ideal of a ‘serious’ president.

He has been seen to easily mingle with the lowly the same way he mingles with the high and mighty; something that was not common with his predecessors.

What he has done is completely change the outlook Kenyans have on the presidency forever.

For instance, One day at Nyayo Stadium he was singing along to the song by Sauti Soul ‘Sura Yako’ then realised he was being recorded, blushed, laughed then stopped.

Many have argued that the president, in appearing so easygoing and approachable before the public, is trying to build his image and that all his antics are an effort in public relations.

However, it may not be the case as the president has, since childhood, maintained a down-to-earth personality and considers all as equal to him.

One Mugo Karuga, 72, who hails from Kirinyaga was the driver of President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s security detail back in the 70s.

Dancing barefoot

In an interview with Kenya’s Mwakilishi.com, Mugo remembered with nostalgia one incident when school children, all barefoot, from central Kenya visited Gatundu to entertain Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

“As the children started entertaining the president, I saw Uhuru rush to the dais and whisper something to his father. The young boy (Uhuru) immediately removed his shoes and joined the choir,’’ he recalled.

Uhuru said he removed his shoes because he wanted to be like the other children.

After the children had entertained the president, Mzee summoned Karuga and gave him instructions to take the children to the nearest Bata shop, which was then in Thika Town, and buy each a pair of new shoes.

“Had Uhuru not requested his father to remove his shoes and join the children in the choir, perhaps Mzee would not have seen the need to buy shoes for the children who had entertained him,’’ he said.

Karuga also revealed Uhuru attended to his welfare devotedly without prejudice.

“My young friend would not let me go hungry while manning the gate, he would always ensure the cooks served me from the family kitchen,’’ he added.

These are just few of the many instances Uhuru has shown his humble side.

The president still continues to touch many hearts and reach out to many families without pushily exercising his authority.

In early June, Uhuru  invited Komaranch Primary School students: Esther Mwikali and her friend Pauline Keziah, to State House and personally toured them around.

He had met the students in Machakos County when he went to launch the ‘Last Mile Connectivity Project’ in Katulu.

Esther had cried when she greeted him and upon which the President further invited them to visit State House.

Uhuru on the same trip reached out to his childhood driver, 101-year-old Mzee Mulei Nganda, who had made a wish through public television to meet him (Uhuru). The old man was very happy when the president fulfilled his wish.

Daniel Owira (Otonglo) who in 2013 moved the audience to tears during the Kenya National Drama Festival State concert received full education sponsorship from the first family.

The then Form Two student at Highway Secondary School was also given a tour of State House with his family by the President.

The list of humane things done by the President is endless. Many might criticise him on some issues, but what no one will take away from Uhuru is how he has demystified the Presidency.

Perhaps his age has contributed to this beyond his amiable personality. He comes out as genuinely loving and wanting to put a smile on peoples’ faces.

For that reason we dedicate today’s #TBT to him.

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#TBT: The day Uhuru removed shoes to join pupils dancing barefoot
Brian Okoth
Story By Brian Okoth
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