President Uhuru Kenyatta landed in Kisumu to a rousing welcome. Surging crowds cheered him all the way from Kisumu Airport to the city’s central business district and escorted him to the State Lodge, where he will host the winners of this year’s Kenya Schools and Colleges Drama Festivals. The residents had only one request for the President – to help bring down the price of maize flour. As the President’s convoy snaked its way towards State Lodge, they chanted: “Unga”! “Bei ya unga imepanda zaidi!” (Maize flour! The price of maize flour is too high!) A smiling President Kenyatta listened to the chanting youth but did not respond even as the crowd escorted his motorcade all the way to the State Lodge. Earlier, business came to a standstill in the town as residents went to receive the President to the home town of his political nemesis, Raila Odinga. Although all the county’s legislators, including area MP Ken Obura, gave the visit a wide berth, Governor Jack Ranguma received the President at the Kisumu International Airport. Crowds lined Oginga Odinga Road to greet him.
Initially, the motorcade did not stop even as crowds tried to wave it down. However, the President later stopped at the Kenya Commercial Bank roundabout and gave a short speech. “I thank you for the warm welcome and also for taking care of the children who came here to participate in the drama festivals,” he said. Uhuru noted that it was important for all Kenyans to embrace unity and peace as the country heads for the elections. “We have to know that we are all Kenyans and we must promote peace as you elect the person of your choice,” he said. He promised that he would visit the region again to ask for votes and emphasised the importance of promoting peace and unity. “Peace is what is important because even after elections we will all remain Kenyans,” said the President as his heavily armed security detail pushed back the crowd. He also appealed to the youth not to allow politicians to use them to promote violence during the electioneering period.
“Tell any politician inciting you to violence to ask his own children to square it out with those of his or her opponents because in the end you will be fighting each other as he flees with his family to Nairobi,” Uhuru said. His comments come at a time when most parties have begun their party primaries, with politicians intensifying their campaigns in most parts of the country.