This is Kenya's National Day, marking two key events in the history of the country. It celebrates Kenya becoming a republic on December 12th, 1964, and also marks Kenya's independence from the United Kingdom a year earlier on December 12th, 1963. Jamhuri means republic in Kiswahili, the national language.
This year's Jamhuri Day marks 58 years since independence. And since it falls on a Sunday, the public holiday will be pushed to Monday. So, Kenyans will enjoy one of the things they treasure most; a long weekend! A weekend of fun, partying and hanging out with friends and family.
Jamhuri Day is the last national holiday of the year. It's followed by Christmas and Boxing Day on Dec 25th and 26, respectively, which wrap up the year. Hence, in Kenya, Jamhuri is the precursor for Christmas shopping, festivities, merry-making, and all things Christmas.
The celebrations will take place at Uhuru gardens, which is fitting, since Uhuru means independence. Uhuru Gardens is a commemorative park situated in Nairobi, the capital city, and the only park to hold such a distinct location in the entire world.
Pomp and Pageantry
Jamhuri celebrations - like all other national celebrations - are full of pomp and pageantry. Parades, cultural dances, mass choirs, colourful displays, speeches, and the presidential address typically marked traditional celebrations in days gone by. These were followed by a luncheon at the statehouse.
Unfortunately, the celebrations might be somewhat low-key this year due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions limiting public gatherings.
A Little History
In 1890, the region presently known as Kenya came under the control of the IBEA Co. (Imperial British East Africa Company). Back then, Kenya was part of The British East Africa Protectorate, later to become a British crown colony (1920).
Land ownership became a major bone of contention, culminating in the Mau Mau rebellion. In 1952, a state of emergency was declared. The Mau Mau rebellion (1952-1960) was a revolt against colonial rule and helped hasten the country's independence. Many people lost their lives during the period, while many more were incarcerated.
KANU (Kenya African National Union) won the first direct elections in 1957 and formed the government. Ultimately, the country gained independence on 12th, Dec 1963, joined the Commonwealth, and became a republic the following year, with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as the first president.