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Kenyans line up to greet a new era

Updated: 2013-04-10 01:58
By li lianxing ( China Daily)

This was the second time that thousands of Kenyans lined up under the stars within the past month.

Last month they were lining up to vote for a new president, and on Tuesday they were waiting to celebrate their new leader's inauguration at the Moi International Sports Complex in Nairobi.

The stadium's official capacity is 60,000 people, but on Tuesday it was overflowing.

According to the Kenyan constitution, the presidential inauguration is a public event that doesn't need a ticket, so supporters of the new president crowded the venue and even spilled over onto the lawns outside the stadium.

Fourteen African leaders were present at the event to welcome their new counterpart.

When the golden sword, the symbol of power, was handed to Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya's fourth president, by his predecessor, Mwai Kibaki, the stadium erupted with cheers.

After the 21-gun salute, the East African country officially welcomed its youngest president in history, as well as Vice-President William Ruto.

Standing in the stadium, amid the overwhelming passion and excitement, I could hardly hear the announcement or even the oaths taken by the new leader.

"He is young, so we hope he can do something for our youth because they are the future of our country," said 38-year-old George John. "They need more quality education and also jobs.

"But he also has to focus on security issues as this is the premise of our future development," he added.

Security must be prioritized for Kenya to ensure a peaceful investment and living environment. This general election made a favorable start because no major chaos or conflict has so far broken out in the country, which has eased the concerns of many potential tourists thousands of kilometers away.

"I've been so worried and nervous about the whole election process in Kenya as I couldn't make any plans to travel to the country in the summer," said Wang Hua, a 32-year-old clerk from Beijing. "We heard a lot about 2007's chaos and we were afraid of a repeat this year."

Last year, a live broadcast of the great animal migration on eastern Africa's savannah by China Central Television attracted many Chinese tourists' attention to Africa.

"Europe and Southeast Asia were among my favorite destinations and I thought Africa was too far away from my real life," Wang said. "But after the live TV broadcast, I realized Africa is much more than I expected and a trip there is affordable to me."

Last summer, Kenya experienced a boom in Chinese tourists, according to travel agencies in Nairobi.

To get a good hotel and even a car or tour guide, Wang said he was supposed to make his booking in March, but due to the election, he was reluctant to make a final decision.

"I have been closely following the election and now things seem really calm and safe, so I can start preparing my summer trip to Africa," he added.

Travel agencies have expressed their optimism about incoming business, thanks to the relatively peaceful and stable election and post-election period.

Peace was repeatedly stressed through the whole process as a tough and bitter lesson was learned from the post-election violence in 2007.

But credit should also go to Raila Odinga, who was defeated by Kenyatta in the recent polls, as he has been calling for calm and peace from his supporters despite his strong disagreement with the Supreme Court's final judgment on the result.

Although he didn't appear at Kenyatta's inauguration ceremony, he said the country must move forward under a new leadership.

Many hopes are pinned on the new leader, particularly the hope that he can live up to his pledge that "lasting peace will be established and maintained through multilevel development".

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