(GIN)—Spoken word artist Julie Wang’ombe—a Duke University undergraduate—has been credited as the author of the victory speech read by President-elect Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta.
The 22-year-old Kenyan-born poet is a familiar face at SLAM Africa events, open mic nights and other events around Nairobi. She comes from a writer’s family—her father is CEO of Kenya’s Nation Media Group.
The gala inauguration ceremony, which took place April 9, drew presidents from around the continent, including Robert Mugabe, Yoweri Museveni, Goodluck Jonathan, Salva Kiir, and dignitaries, including Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Long before dawn, buses packed with supporters arrived from central Kenya and the Rift Valley, heartlands of Kenyatta’s Kikuyu people and of his soon to be vice-president William Ruto.
Kenyatta loyalists, dressed in the red colors of his Jubilee Coalition party, waved farewell to outgoing President Mwai Kibaki, 81, retiring after more than a decade in power.
One of Africa’s richest men, Kenyatta, 51, won the March 4 polls by about 8,000 votes ahead of his nearest rival, outgoing Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
In his inaugural speech President Kenyatta promised to abolish all maternity care fees and make government dispensaries and health centers free of charge within 100 days. Funds reserved for an election run-off would be redirected to a new Youth and Women Fund, and within the first 100 days, measures would be taken to ensure that all public school students joining class one next year would receive a laptop. “We believe that early exposure to technology will inspire future innovation and be a catalyst for growth and prosperity,” he said.
Before the election, the U.S. and Europe sought to persuade Kenyans to reject Kenyatta, who faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court, charges which will be presented in July. Britain warned it would maintain only essential contact, noted Hadley Muchela, of IMLU, a Kenyan human rights group.
But the west has since softened its stance, Muchela said. “Is there honesty in these dealings, or is it always just about our interests in other countries in the world?” Diplomats from the U.K. and the U.S. both attended the swearing-in ceremony.
Meanwhile, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said: “I want to salute the Kenyan voters on … the rejection of the blackmail by the International Criminal Court… The usual opinionated and arrogant actors” tried to use the court to “install leaders of their choice in Africa.”
A congratulatory message from Pres. Barack Obama to the Kenyan leaders read: “Now that your election has been confirmed, you have the opportunity to build on the promise of Kenya’s Constitution and solidify its place as a vibrant and prosperous democracy centered on the rule of law.” The message was relayed by the new U.S. Ambassador, Robert Codec, who replaces State Dept. Africa chief Johnnie Carson who formally retired March 29, ending a 44-year career.