Utamaduni Day or Huduma Day?


Last week, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i issued a statement announcing that today, October 11, would be a public holiday. This was occasioned by the fact that the holiday fell on a Sunday and so the holiday was pushed to Monday.

His statement sparked confusion on what public holiday Kenyans are marking.

Previously, Kenyans celebrated Moi Day on October 10. But in December 2019, the Cabinet approved the renaming of Moi Day to Huduma Day. This was in line with former President Daniel Arap Moi's desire that the day is commemorated as a day of service and volunteerism.

Under the proposals to amend the Public Holidays Act (Cap 109), Cabinet approved the renaming of Boxing Day which falls on December 26 to Utamaduni Day.

Utamaduni Day was to be set aside to celebrate the country's rich cultural diversity and heritage.

However, a random search on Google will give varying results, including Utamaduni Day being marked on December 26.

Further, the Building Bridges Initiative had proposed changing Boxing Day, celebrated a day after Christmas, to be known as the National Culture Day.

Seeing as internationally recognised holidays cannot be renamed, Boxing Day still stands, while Utamaduni Day was settled for October 10.

The confusion is still rife seeing as the changes were made in December 2019. With the Covid-19 pandemic hitting the country in 2020, there weren't many gatherings to mark public holidays. However, last year, Kenyans marked December 26 as Utamaduni Day. 

Questioned on what is the name of the holiday Kenyans are marking today, October 11, the communications liaison from the Interior ministry said to be guided by CS Matiangí’s announcement that referred to October 10 as Utamaduni Day, adding that internationally recognised holidays cannot be renamed.

A gazette notice issued on December 11, 2020, stated that Moi Day shall now be referred to as Utamaduni day.

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