Independence Day: December 12
Independence Day is a public holiday in Kenya.
On December 12, 1963, Kenyans celebrated their independence from the British. Locals often refer to Independence Day as Jamhuri Day. (Jamhuri is a Swahili word that means “Republic”.) This is Kenya’s most important holiday and the most widely celebrated, joined by all Kenyans around the world.
History of Independence Day in Kenya
Independence Day is associated with Dedan Kimathi, a Kenyan rebel leader who fought the British in the 1950s. Kimathi was jailed and executed by the British in 1957 for his role in the Mau Mau uprising. Jomo Kenyatta was also imprisoned for his fight by peaceful means for Kenya’s Independence.
Kenya was under British reign starting in 1920. Even though Kenyans did react to their loss of rights, the British did not falter and oppressed any attempt to release Kenya from their grip. It took Kenyans patience and courage to front the colonizing forces and achieve their goal to be free. Jomo Kenyatta led their first attempts to push away the British from Kenya, keeping faithful to the pursuit of freedom by peaceful means, but the British were never moved. Later, in the 1950s, Dedan Kimathi led a violent response during the Mau Mau uprising, resulting in a huge loss of life and the imprisonment of several African political leaders by the British. The political turmoil continued during the 1960s, and in 1963, Kenya obtained full independence from the British.
Kenya’s Independence Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
Traditionally the President gives a speech at Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium, accompanied by government officials and military forces. Sometimes this event gives reason to protesters to hold rallies against the Kenyan Government. Independence Day is also marked by cultural festivities celebrating Kenya’s unique cultural identity. Kenya’s colorful flag is hung in buildings and private houses, and all over the capital city of Nairobi.
Kenyans dress in traditional and colorful kikoys and kitenges and celebrate their country’s freedom. Natives make typical Kenyan dishes such as Ugali, porridge made of maize, or Irio, mashed vegetables rolled into balls and dipped into meat stews. Kenyan communities all over the world usually gather during this day and celebrate their African heritage.