By Michael Okidi – Public Communication

DSC5030President Uhuru Kenyatta paid an unexpected visit to the State Department of East African Community Integration (SDEACI) stand at this year’s Mombasa International Show, and instructed that the EAC anthem and flag be popularized as per the recent Cabinet directive on the same.

Received by the East African Community, Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary, Mrs Phyllis Kandie and Director of Administration at SDEACI, Christopher Musumbu, the President’s first question as he was taken round the stand was: “Have you taught the public how to sing the EAC anthem?”

His concern resonated with an earlier observation by Mrs Kandie and her Public Service Counterpart Sicilly Kariuki, who suggested that a stand-by choir from the State Department should be available at similar public forums to popularize the anthem.

They further suggested an intensive engagement with both vernacular and Kiswahili radio stations for regular play of the anthem so that Kenyans not only muster its wordings and tune, but also identify with its spirit as a unifying factor in the EAC region. DSC5037

The President’s visit lightened up the SDEACI stand, drawing in big numbers of visitors who were eager to learn about the EAC integration, its benefits to Kenyans and how they could participate in cross border businesses without getting into conflict with the security agencies of neighbouring states.

Most visitors were business people with cross border trade interests and groups of students eager to learn about the integration process, what it portends for their professional future, and the existing cross border employment opportunities.

DSC5015There were also concerns raised about perceived lack of interest in the EAC integration by certain Partner States, going by their recent policy directions and pronouncements by their leaders, issues which were promptly responded to by the technical officers manning the SDEACI stand.

Of particular interest to the show goers were questions on work permits, the implications of the anticipated single currency on the value of the Kenyan shilling and the use of national identity cards to cross the regional borders.

There were several lessons learnt from the show, including the popularity and need for more of the various SDEACI publications such as the Jumuiya News magazine, the Community Magazine, the EAC integration information booklets and brochures and copies of the EAC anthem.