In Summary
  • Uhuru and Odinga fought back claims that their unity deal was meant to scuttle Mr Ruto’s presidential ambitions in 2022.
  • Uhuru said he is confident the handshake will end the tension that characterises every electioneering period.

Kikuyu benga musician Joseph Kamau was buried Thursday in a colourful ceremony as the songs he belted out in his six-decade singing career rent the air.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto joined other leaders and hundreds of Kenyans at the funeral in Muthithi, Murang’a.

The President and Mr Odinga fought back claims that their unity deal was meant to scuttle Mr Ruto’s presidential ambitions in 2022, saying the March 9 handshake was aimed at healing a wounded nation that for years has been divided along tribal lines.

In an apparent swipe at the deputy president and his allies, Mr Odinga, who was wildly cheered when he arrived at the funeral, said the Building Bridges Initiative is not about the 2022 succession debate.

His speech was continuously interrupted with loud applause from the public, in a region that overwhelmingly voted for President Kenyatta in last year's election.

“I told the President that we should shake hands as Kenyans watch. The handshake was meant to unite Kenyans and has nothing to do with 2022 because that will come and go,” he said.

ETHNICITY

On September 30, Mr Ruto claimed that Mr Odinga was using the handshake to divide Jubilee Party and have him kicked out of the party.

But Mr Odinga said the initiative is only meant to bring to an end to politics of ethnicity and end violence during and after elections.

President Kenyatta warned Kenyans against being divided by cheap politics, adding: "Kamaru taught us the importance of unity. It is in my quest to look for peace that I united with Ruto and later met with my elder brother Odinga.”

The President, who sometimes switched to Kikuyu, said he is confident the handshake will end the tension that characterises every electioneering period.

“Let us not be misled by cheap politics. Kenya will not achieve her true position on the global map unless we work with one another. We must love each other because we do not have another country. If we burn our nation, there is nowhere else to go unless we all dive into the Indian Ocean or Lake Victoria,” he said.

UNITY

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