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Uhuru’s dashing shirts capture Kenyans’ attention as he battles coronavirus

As the world struggles to find its way out of the deadly Coronavirus, it may be difficult to find anything that could easily assuage fears or that might proffer some iota of joy.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta in responding to the novel disease, officially named Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation, has put in place a raft of measures either to avert its rapid spread in the country or to hold the economy from total collapse. By Thursday, 31 people had tested positive for the disease with one recovery.

On Wednesday, he announced some of the far-reaching measures yet to battle the pandemic, offering tax waivers, breaks and imposing a nighttime curfew as from Friday, March 27, 2020.

For all these, however, the President has tried to imbue ecstasy to the gloomy occasion by donning eye-catching locally made shirts that have captured the attention of a number Kenyans, netizens not left behind.

On Wednesday, when he announced the stringent measures, he put on a blue-themed, striking, checked shirt that appeared to attract the attention of a number of citizens.

President Uhuru Kenyatta live address from State House, Nairobi. Present are Cabinet Secretaries Dr. Fred Matiang’i (Interior and Coordination of National Security), Mutahi Kagwe (Health) and Ukur Yatani (Treasury). PHOTO | PSCU

On Monday, when he announced the government’s partnership with Google for the rolling out of the Loon 4G that would see countrywide 4G data coverage, he was yet again clad in another striking, green-themed, casual shirt that caught the eyes of many.

Some even joked that the President’s shirt was more attractive than the information he was relaying on the technology he said would mitigate work disruptions in the wake of the outbreak during the address at State House, Nairobi.

Last Friday, he wore yet another well-designed, checked shirt when he met the Central Bank Governor Patrick Njoroge and the representatives of the private sector at State House where he announced the release of Sh7.4 billion to support efforts to contain Coronavirus in the country.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) released Sh7.4 billion to support Government efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country. PHOTO | PSCU

All the shirts are designed and made by Rivatex Textile factory in Eldoret. The textile company said they were grateful for the President for constantly ordering and wearing them during peak times like when addressing the nation.

“Hope is inspired by what and how we dress. President Uhuru Kenyatta is our number 1 supporter of our fabrics,” the company tweeted alongside a picture of the President in the shirt he wore on Monday.

When he relaunched the company last year June, President Kenyatta ordered government employees to put on clothes made by the local textile factories on Fridays in a move aimed at inducing confidence in a sector where most people prefer imported attire to the local makes. Since then, he has been wearing some of the casual shirts on Fridays made by Rivatex.

The company’s Managing Director, Prof Thomas Kipkurgat, said on Thursday the President ordered the shirts frequently and that they were designed specifically to capture his tastes and size.

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing journalists at Harambee House in Nairobi on March 15, 2020 where he ordered all schools closed after the confirmation of three coronavirus cases in Kenya. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL

“The President is our number one marketer and we laud him for constantly taking the lead in the promotion of local products. He has put us on a high pedestal and also on the map of our country and beyond. This is a good gesture that has lifted our hopes and we strive to do more now that we have modern machines. Through his love for our shirts, we have been able to penetrate into the market,” said Prof Kurgat, who has been tasked with revamping a once high-flying firm that was on the brink of collapse due to financial challenges before Moi University acquired it in 2007.

President Uhuru Kenyatta during a State of the Nation address at State House, Mombasa County. PHOTO | PSCU

He said owing to the President’s preference for the shirts, other prominent personalities like Cabinet secretaries, lawmakers, governors and other senior government officials had already ordered for similar outfits which he said was priced according to the design, size and fabric used. He also said any Kenyans can buy them from Rivatex shops across the country.

The government has already imposed a temporary ban on importation of second-hand clothes in a bid to ward off further imported Covid-19 infections, giving an opportunity to the local factories to fill in the gap as the world battles disease.

“Importation of used clothes is suspended with immediate effect to safeguard the health of Kenyans and promote local textiles,” said Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina on Wednesday.

Presently, the company is supplying fabrics to various government institutions including Kemsa, KDF, the Police, National Youth Service, Kenyatta National Hospital and Kenyatta University.