National celebrations to mark the 56th Madaraka Day, when Kenya attained self-rule in 1963, are underway at Narok Stadium.
Members of the public eager for the festivities camped at the stadium on Friday night, with others arriving in the wee hours on Saturday, some accompanied by their children.
A cheerful President Uhuru Kenyatta arrived at about 10.50pm accompanied by Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe.
He waved at the people as the was taken around the stadium before stopping for the national anthem to be sang. He inspected a guard of honour and eventually took his seat next to First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
Guests who arrived earlier included Deputy President William Ruto and his wife Rachel, Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, National Assembly majority leader Aden Duale, and Speaker Justin Muturi.
Others were ministers Fred Matiang’i (Interior) and Raychelle Omamo (Defence); governors Samuel Tunai (Narok) and Joseph ole Lenku (Kajiado); senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet), Ledama ole Kina (Narok) and James Orengo (Siaya); and ODM national chairman John Mbadi, who is Suba South member of Parliament.
More than 20,000 people are expected to attend the celebrations that President Uhuru Kenyatta will lead.
Many walked to the venue as Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Chimwanga Mongo said only vehicles with special passes would be let into the town and the stadium.
Motorists were stranded as roads were blocked; those travelling from Nairobi to Narok or from Kisii through Narok to Nairobi were earlier advised to use alternative roots through Nakuru.
“Police officers will be diverting vehicles at Mai Mahiu Town and at Kaplong to pass through Nakuru if they have no business in Narok Town,” the commissioner said.
He added that heavy commercial vehicles to Mai Mahiu would be forced to reschedule their travels and avoid the Mai Mahiu escarpment due to perennial traffic jams on the notorious nine-kilometre stretch.
He advised that they should use Nairobi-Naivasha-Nakuru highway instead.
The celebrations in 2018 took place at a newly renovated Kinoru Stadium, in line with a tradition that started in 2015, for the event to take place outside the capital Nairobi.
In 2017, the event was held in Nyeri County.
At Kinoru, there was a show of colour, pomp and elegance as guests, who included South Africa Deputy President David Mabuza, arrived in style.
The celebrations were also held in all the other 46 counties, presided over by county commissioners and governors.