A protocol lapse at State House nearly spoiled the mood of a well-organized event after a scuffle between the presidential security and top Chinese government officials.
Security officers at State House blocked some members of Chinese Prime minister Li Keqiang’s delegation as they tried to enter the signing ceremony venue through the restricted presidential entrance. Four African heads of state were already waiting for the Chinese leader and his team.
A tussle ensued as the Chinese delegation tried to go past the presidential guards who resisted their attempts to use the second entrance through which President Kenyatta had ushered in the main guest. Some who had struggled in were forced out.
The security officers did not want ‘uncleared” guests to use the entrance but the Chinese team appeared to be in a hurry following their Premier.
There was communication breakdown as most the officials caught in the drama spoke a foreign language while the Kenyan officers shouted in English.
Moments later, the issue was settled and the delegates directed to the main entrance into the conference room where President Kenyatta, Mr Li, Presidents Museveni (Uganda), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), and Salva Kiir (South Sudan) were witnessing the signing of the Standard Gauge Railway deal.
Later at the joint press conference, there was laughter after President Kenyatta referred to his Ugandan counterpart as “professor” when he welcomed him to speak on behalf of the visiting regional leaders.
He however, quickly explained that Mr Museveni was in deed a professor of politics.
“There is nothing wrong about that as President Museveni is in need “a professor of politics” President Kenyatta explained.
Occasionally Mr Keqiang who has been linguistically official on Chinese was seen consulting with Mr Kenyatta directly.
The two leaders had relied on a fluent official interpreter accompanying Mr Keqiang to communicate with each other.