Enthusiastic Kenyans on Friday rose up early to attend the 55th Madaraka Day at Kinoru Stadium in Meru.
By 6am, the terraces reserved for the public were already full, with security officers forced to lock the gates to bar thousands of Kenyans eager to enter the stadium.
More than 18,000 are expected to attend the event to be presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
All the four gates to the stadium were mobbed by long queues, with some attendees having arrived as early as 3am.
Occasional stampede were witnessed as people struggled to reach the gates.
Meanwhile, security was beefed up around stadium and the region ahead of the celebrations.
Many residents walked to the stadium as motor vehicles were barred from accessing the venue and Meru town.
Eastern Regional Commissioner Wycliffe Ogallo said only vehicles with special passes will access the stadium and the town.
“Those who will not have the passes will be required to leave their vehicles at designated parking places outside the town and walk to the venue,” he said.
Those coming from Embu- Meru road will leave their vehicles at Kanu grounds and Gitimbine while those coming from Mikinduri will park at Gakoromone and Mwiteria areas.
“Kaaga Girls High School and MCK Kaaga Church will be used by those coming from Maua. Those approaching the town from Nanyuki will park their vehicles at Gitoro, Meru National Polytechnic and along the way,” said the Regional Commissioner.
Traffic officers are guiding motorists who do not have the passes on how and where to park their vehicles.
Before entering the stadium, all attendees are expected to undergo screening by security officers.
VIPs who are expected to attend the event will use different gates and are expected to be in the stadium by 8am.
All guests are expected to be seated by 9am.
Celebrated on June 1, Madaraka Day is a national holiday on which Kenya commemorates attainment of internal self-rule from Britain in 1963.
Madaraka is a Swahili word for “responsibility, power, governance”.
Last year’s Madaraka Day was held in Nyeri.