Kenya, officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is an East African nation that gained its independence from British rule on 12 December 1963. The day, December 12, marks a double occasion – as on this day Kenya gained freedom from the British colonial era in the year 1963 as well as the day when it became a republic in 1964. According to The New York Times, it was the day when “Britain’s Union Jack” was replaced by the black, red, and green flag of the new states, and political power in Britain’s last East African colonial holding slipped from the grasp of its 55,759 whites and was taken up by its 8,365,942 Africans.”
Independence Day Celebration
Independence Day, also known as Jamhuri Day (“Jamhuri” – a Swahili word – which means “Republic”) is one of the most significant national holidays observed in Kenya. Moreover, this is the most widely celebrated festival among Kenyans. Traditionally, the president accompanied by defense forces and government dignitaries gives a speech at Nyayo Stadium of Nairobi. The colorful flag of Kenya can be seen waving in private dwellings, buildings, and everywhere in the capital city of Nairobi.
The day is also celebrated by various cultural festivals that reflect Kenya’s distinct cultural identity. Colorful and traditional outfits – Kitenges and Kikoys – are worn by the Kenyans to celebrate this momentous day. Typical Kenyan delicacies – porridge made of maize, Ugali, and mashed vegetables made into balls and soaked into meat stews – are relished. On this day, Kenyan communities usually come together from all over the world and commemorate their heritage of Africa.
Independence Day celebrations, therefore, include political speeches, dancing, feasts, and parades.
National Flag of Kenya
The national flag of Kenya, combined with historical events that gave a new shape to the country, truly symbolizes the ambitions and aspirations of the country. 12 December 1963 was the day when the Kenyan government officially adopted the national flag.
The three horizontal strips of the flag – black, red, and green, respectively from top to bottom – contain a thin stripe of white bordering the top and bottom of the red. Also, the black color of the flag represents the people of Africa, the red color is a symbol of the Kenyan struggle for freedom, whereas the green color symbolizes agriculture and the natural resources of Kenya. Most importantly, the Masai warrior’s shield and spears, placed in the center of the flag depict Kenya’s struggle for independence and their prepared state of action to safeguard that freedom.
National Anthem of Kenya
The lyrics and music composition were done by Thomas Kalume, Washington Omondi, Graham Hyslop, George W. Senoga-Zake, and Peter Kibukosya. The people of Kenya through the national song seek the blessings and special prayers from the Almighty to bless the country and protect it from any foreign assault. Emphasis is given to peace, unity, and liberty not only within the nation but also with its bordering countries. Thus, in this manner with hard labor and firm resolution, the country can reach great heights of success and prosperity in the days to come.
There is a feeling among its people that there is much to celebrate as the nation makes its way to a viable economic power and concerted efforts toward shedding a legacy of corruption, violence, and discrimination.
History on Independence Day
Kenya officially declared a colony of Britishers in 1920 after the late 19th-century British rule. The Africans were denied any political role by the colonial rulers. Dissension over land, traditions, and customs continued and that paved the way for the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s. The role of the Kenyan rebel leader, Dedan Kimathi, to fight the British rule cannot be undermined as he was imprisoned and executed in 1957 by the Britishers.
The members of Mau Mau, primarily consisted of Kikuyu (the largest ethnic group in Kenya) that launched violent assaults against the colonial raj. In 1952, the nation was plunged into an emergency state and during which many Kenyan freedom fighters were arrested, including Jomo Kenyatta, president of the Kenya African Union. It resulted in widespread detention and the loss of so many lives.
Nonetheless, the Mau Mau uprising convinced the British that political, social, and agrarian improvements were needed. Therefore, in 1957, the first direct elections for the native heads to the Legislative Council were allowed by the Britishers. Consequently, by 1960, Africans formed the majority in the council and the day was not far when on 12 December 1963, Kenya acquired complete independence from the colonial rulers with Jomo Kenyatta as the president.