In Kenya, State Lodges began with Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri which served as an official vacation getaway for British Royal Dignitaries and Governors during the colonial decades. Before independence, Sagana State Lodge was known as the Royal Lodge.
History records show that in 1947 when Princess Elizabeth (now late Queen Elizabeth) and Prince Phillip got married, Royal Lodge (read Sagana) was given to the newly weds as “a gift from the people of Kenya.” In December of 1963, however, Queen Elizabeth handed the ownership of the Lodge back to the newly independent government of the East African nation.
State Lodges in Kenya
Today, there are roughly eleven State Lodges spread across the country. These Lodges serve as pivotal centers for the President of Kenya to conduct both official and private functions. Between 1963 and 2002, the country experienced shifting strategies in managing Kenya’s governance on resources.
There could be no better manifestation of this change in administration than looking at how past presidents including Jomo Kenyatta and his successor Daniel Arap Moi. History has it that despite the comfort that state house Nairobi offers, it was very rare for Mzee Jomo Kenyatta to spend even a night there. For Moi, he loved managing the affairs of the country from his Kabarnet home or his Nakuru residency. Just like his predecessor, he was rarely seen in State House Nairobi. Equally, Moi wasn’t a regular guest in the state lodges spread across the country.
However, Moi’s successor the late Mwai Kibaki used to visit a state lodge whenever he had meetings with leaders from the Mt Kenya region. Kibaki’s successor retired President Uhuru Kenyatta made several trips to Sagana State Lodge where he held cabinet meetings, hosted international leaders, family and consultative meetings with clergy and women leaders from Central Kenya.
Lately, the country is seeing President William Ruto conducting government business from State Lodges with increased intensity. The Kenya Kwanza government argues that State Lodge’s cabinet meetings and regional leaders’ meet-ups are necessary in flagging projects geared at reinforcing the government’s bottom up agenda. This agenda seeks to enhance the growth of affordable housing, ensure food security, improved economy and an expanded tax base.
Dr Ruto has been mobile with his cabinet secretaries from central to western Kenya. A key target of their regional tours has been the launch of projects in the devolved units. Proponents argue that the move aligns with the “hustler narrative” where the president together with the CSs opt to go to the counties to hear out the cries and pleas of common mwananchi.
Mambo ni matatu
During the tours, Dr Ruto is also pushing his Affordable Housing Agenda. This comes amid the confusion and trouble people are facing on understanding this program, let alone shouldering mandatory contribution to this scheme.
President Ruto is also a man on a mission to eliminate the issue of incompetence of various regional projects which have been stalled for a long time. While in Kakamega, Dr Ruto warned the corrupt, saying; “Maneno ya ufisadi Kenya hii itakoma. Hakuna mtu ataendesha ufisadi hii Kenya. Wafisadi wote mambo yao ni matatu; wahame Kenya, waende jela ama wasafiri waende mbinguni. There is no other place ya kujificha. Hatuwezi chukua pesa ya wananchi na kuifanya pesa yake na bibi yake. Pesa ya wananchi ni ya wananchi.”
This loosely translates to, “Corruption will end in Kenya. No one will engage in corruption going forward and the corrupt have only three options; they either leave Kenya, go to jail or better yet, heaven. There’s no place to hide. You can’t take money belonging to the people and turn it into your own money.”
While corruption does remain a challenge in Kenya, as in other developing markets, third-party measures of corruption indicate positive trends and modest progress in recent years, a statement on US Embassy in Kenya notes.
According to the 2023 US Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Kenya’s score for “Control of Corruption” was 0.28 representing its third passing score in a row and highest score to date. In comparison, Kenya’s 0.28 was superior to India’s 0.18 and Vietnam’s 0.19, the US embassy adds.
Further, President Ruto is believed to be creating good relationship with leaders despite opposition from various regions. While in his countryside tours, he has been seen reaching out, offering the olive branch and calling for a cordial working relationship with leaders from the other side of the isle, offering them sweet deals while in their home turfs.
Kakamega State Lodge
Moreover, it is also presumed that the state wants to use government buildings to the maximum. State Lodges that have been fairly idle for long while attracting significant budgetary costs for maintainance.
The Kakamega State Lodge marks Kenya Kwanza Administration’s second cabinet meeting held outside the capital, Nairobi. This progress of holding cabinet meetings outside Nairobi is a welcome. But, from the look of things, it is seen the president will have a visit to all other State Lodges, including Kisumu, Eldoret, Kitale, Rumuruti, Cherangany and in Kisii and while at it, hold cabinet meetings there.
Nestled in scenic and secluded locations, Kenya’s State Lodges offer an exquisite blend of natural beauty and modern amenities. From swimming pools that provide respite from heat to tennis courts and golf courses for recreation, they ensure that both official meetings and leisure needs are well catered for.
Beyond leisure, these lodges are equipped with state-of-the-art security features. Overall, they symbolise the power and prestige while serving as the stage for important state affairs, diplomatic negotiations, and discussions that shape the nation’s future.
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