First President Jomo Kenyatta memorial service, a ritual that is marked on August 22 every year, is about to take a drastic change.
This is after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced Thursday that the family had decided that subsequent memorial services will be conducted privately, ending an annual ritual that has existed for the last 40 years.
The day has always been marked with the laying of the wreath at the founding President mausoleum at Parliament Buildings followed with a memorial service at the Holy Family Basilica.
“This is the last time we are commemorating the death of the founding father in this manner,” President Kenyatta announced.
The President told the congregation at the Holy Family Basilica, Nairobi, during the 41st memorial service of Mzee’s death that he had consulted the Kenyatta Family and the decision was made that the memorial should be a private family affair.
While the ritual has been practiced since the death in 1978, President Kenyatta told the congregation that second President Daniel arap Moi faithfully honoured the day with a church mass for 21 of his 24-year reign.
Third President Mwai Kibaki picked up the ritual and observed it religiously during his 10 year in power.
President Kenyatta himself has kept the faith and for the last seven years, he has presided over the commemoration of the day at the Holy Family Basilica, a few metres from where the remains of the late President were interred.
The President paid glowing tribute to his two predecessors acknowledging their honour and dedication in observing the day and challenged the congregation to focus on what the late President stood for instead of just remembering him.
He also praised the Catholic Church for allowing the Kenyatta family to conduct the memorial service in the Basilica throughout this time, noting that the family’s request to use the facility has always been honoured by the church.
“We are not here just to celebrate or remember the man. We are here to celebrate what he stood for and what he gave his life for,” the President said, noting that the values that his father stood for were more significant than a congregating in church every year to remember him.
“I remember that morning 41 years ago when the news of his death was announced…it is still vivid and some of us thought it was the end of life because we couldn’t imagine life without him.”
“But we have been able to move on because the time we spent with him and what we shared with him has been able to carry us forward.”