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Kenya’s most important holiday

By Calvin Odhiambo | December 14th 2014

December is, without a doubt, a festive month in most parts of the world, thanks to the Christmas and Boxing Day holidays. The month is even more special for Kenyans because it hosts the day that our country gained independence from British colonial rule.

Celebrated every December 12 and taking the name Jamhuri Day from the Kiswahili word meaning 'republic', the holiday marks the date of Kenya’s admittance, in 1964, into the Commonwealth community as a republic. A year earlier, 1963, Kenya had attained internal self-rule (uhuru) with Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta forming a government. When the Republic of Kenya was born, Jomo Kenyatta became our first president.

When Kenya became a republic, many settlers of European origin left the country, fearing persecution. President Kenyatta, however, calmed these fears by instead inviting them to join hands with the African majority population in building a prosperous, equal-for-all Kenya. He used the rallying motto 'Harambee', meaning 'pulling together'. The then head-of-state also requested the British troops in Kenya to remain and help extinguish the then Somali incursion.

Kenya’s freedom is attributed to the Mau Mau freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives to oppose British rule. From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was put under a State of Emergency arising from the Mau Mau's rebellious activities against the colonial administration. The capture and execution of various Mau Mau leaders, including Dedan Kimathi in 1956, by the colonial government dealt a crashing blow to the outfit, but the train of freedom continued until it got to the station.

This past Friday was the 51st anniversary of independence. As has been the norm, the day was characterised by a lot of activities,including a showcase of our heritage,parades and a special exhibition by our armed forces. All this joyous activity was crowned by a speech from the Head of State, the President of the Republic of Kenya.

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