Independence Day celebration for the Kenyan Community of Colorado (KCC) is a big event. Kenya gained freedom from British rule in 1963. Far away in Denver-Colorado, inside the Artwork Network, on May 4, Kenyan natives and the international community sang cheers and praises to the East African nation.
It is not only “Jubilee time” for Kenyans around the world, but a time when the community needs to know where they come from.
‘It is a moment to look ahead and see,” said pastor Ndegwa Mwangi who opened the event with prayer for God to bless Kenya.
‘Fifty years ago the citizens of Kenya did not have the freedom we have today,” said Deputy Chief of Mission at the Kenyan embassy in Washington DC, ambassador Jean Kamau. Kamau was representing the Kenyan ambassador to the United States, Elkanah Odembo.
The Independence Day festivities dubbed “Kenya Turns 50” brought together KCC and the Denver Sister Cities International (DSCI) in “an emerging partnership” between the two organizations. The partnership builds upon a long relationship that the city of Denver has cultivated with the Kenyan capital city, Nairobi.
In addition to Nairobi, DSCI has ties with ten sister cities in Ethiopia, France, India, Mexico, Israel, China, Italy, Japan and Mongolia.
Speaking to an audience of Kenyans, business people and party goers, Denver City Councilman, Albus Brooks, stated that the perceptions which Americans have about Africa are mostly wrong and from his experience, the Africa that he hears about is different from the Africa that he has seen.
“You see, people have a perception when they think of Africa. And that perception is nine out of ten times wrong,” Brooks said. The councilman talked about the combined annual GDP of African nations, which he said, was higher than that of the United States and Europe combined. The incredible economic recovery taking place in Kenya was contributing to that, he said.
Brooks noted that the city of Denver has recently invested over $200,000 into the City of Nairobi Park, a recreational facility located in Denver. The facility is scheduled to officially open June 14.
More revealing was news that Denver authorities would like to see direct flights from Denver to Kenya in the future. While he provided no details, the effort appears to be in conjunction with efforts that have led to direct flights from Denver International Airport (DIA) to Tokyo, Japan. The daily non-stop Denver-to-Tokyo flights are scheduled to begin June 10.
“We want to see a direct flight to Kenya,” Brooks stated rather emphatically. The Denver city council includes DIA, a hub for most international flights to and from the metro Denver area. “DIA is the largest international airport in the United States, and the second largest international airport in the world,” according to operational information on Denvergov.org, the city website.
Speaking after Brooks, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock echoed similar sentiments about increasing the import-export relationship between Denver and Nairobi.
“We believe in Denver and my administration that we are a world class city. In order to be that world class city, we must be prepared to open the doors of this city to other international cities around the word, “Hancock said.