History of Kenya’s National Prayer Breakfast, why Kalonzo is key

Hundreds of leaders and guests have gathered at the Safari Park Hotel for this year’s National Prayer Breakfast led by President William Ruto and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua.

Members of Parliament (MPs), including those from the opposition, are among the leaders in attendance.

The Azimio la Umoja Coalition said in a statement yesterday that its principals led by Raila Odinga will skip the event, but revealed that opposition MPs are free to attend.

As the nation observes the event, the history behind its establishment dates back decades back and it is interesting how it has stood the test of time not only in Kenya but also in the US.


The event dates back to 1987 when Kalonzo Musyoka, then Assistant Minister-cum-Deputy Speaker, was first invited to the 34th United States National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC.

The next year, 1988, Moses Keino, then Speaker, met friends who attended the event and he became intrigued by how political nemesis and non-church leaders could gather for a prayer event.

After influencing then-President Daniel Moi to attend the event in early 1990, Keino began luring his Parliamentary friends to start prayer fellowship groups.

Even so, the event was short-lived due to the heated political turbulence of multiparty democracy.

In 2002 that the idea resurfaced.

This time, David Musila was at the forefront. When he was first elected to Parliament he began to structure parliamentary prayer fellowship groups that included, among others, Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka.

Due to the political stability that had preceded the 2002 elections, the little Parliamentary Prayer Groups that held their prayer meetings at Boulevard Hotel and Muthaiga Country Club birthed the first Kenya National Prayer Event.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka became the chairman of the organization. And so it became that the event was set for the first Saturday before Madaraka – 2003 but changed to the last Thursday of May preceding Madaraka Day.

On its inaugural fete, the event was marked by a few hundred of people but it soon attracted more attendees including international dignitaries.

In the US, the event is also held annually in Washington, D.C., attracting political and religious leaders from around the nation and the world, who gather to pray and reflect on faith.

Many observers believe the event merely promotes faithfulness, humility, and reflection among national leaders.

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