Interestingly this is the third time the city will host the Olympiad, following the 1908 and 1948 editions, but Kenya was not represented at either edition because our first representation was in the 1956 Olympics.
Last week, Proctor & Gamble (P&G) Kenya became the first corporate entity in history to sponsor the country's Olympic team. The company, ranked 5th on the 2011 Fortune 'World's Most Admired Companies' list, held a lavish send-off dinner for the team at the Safari Park Hotel on the night of June 26th 2012. Screens spread out in the hall starkly read: 'P&G: Proud Sponsor of Mums' in line with the theme of the evening, which was a celebration of our mothers.
The Guest of Honour was the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga and he was accompanied by his wife, Ida Odinga. Sports and Youth Minister Paul Otuoma as well as other high ranking government officials, together with the esteemed Kenyan athletes such as Catherine Ndereba and David Rudisha also crowned the occasion with their presence as the night to wish Kenya's team well proceeded.
Kenya's marathon Queen Catherine Ndereba (PHOTO: P&G Kenya)
It's not every day you hear an MC tell guests to put on their phones and tweet or text about the event they are attending but that is exactly what Radio Africa Group's Caroline Mutoko did. As everyone waited for the event to kick off, she encouraged attendants to tweet with the hashtag #P&GKenya or #P&GDinner as awareness of this noble gathering. The accomplished radio personality instilled the fact that P&G has been with Kenya's current generation as it grew up, through the company's products such as Ariel, Vicks Kingo, Pampers, Always and Mach3.
Caroline was bountiful with wit and charm as she took the audience through the programme for the evening, majorly a highlight for the role mother's have played in 'making' champions across the board and particularly athletes. She introduced Ida who gave an affectionate speech about mothers and asked, actually demanded, the athletes who were present to hug their mums at that moment.
The Prime Minister's wife, Ida Odinga (PHOTO: P&G Kenya)
There was a brief moment of hesitation and Ida had to reiterate her statement as a few of Kenya's stars went forward to do so. The Prime Minister's wife told all the remaining athletes to come up on to the podium and hug her instead if their mothers weren't present. Quite a number of them followed suit and were pleased with the gesture.
An entertainment segment followed with the Safari Cats captivating and mesmerizing the audience with a well choreographed dance featuring traditional African music and drums fused with contemporary beats. The play of light and silhouette resulted in a spectacular display as the banquette was opened up for dinner to be served.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga (PHOTO: P&G Kenya)
The Sports Minister, Mr. Otuoma then welcomed the Prime Minister to address the gathering and Raila did a sterling job on putting the spotlight on the targets of the night... Kenya's world beaters. The seasoned politician took everyone down memory lane from the first gold medal Kenya won at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 by Naftali Temu to praising the National Olympics Committee Chairman Kipchoge Keino, who has a number of medals under his cap over the years.
There was a general consensus though, and one which Ghafla! shares, in wishing our athletes all the very best at the 2012 London Olympic Games.