”My Land of Kenya, beautiful mother who bred me, carved me, made me who I am, proud of myself and the great leaps you are making. You are now 53 years, challenges left and right, political wrangles, police fireworks, helter skelter youthful men and women, panic, street clearing, land of the mighty, land of the haves and have-nots, awesome mama, what haven’t you seen? The pride mother who holds 40million people and still counting. The mother who never gives up the fighting of the elephants, above you mama, you look imploringly at your generation wondering when the elephant will accept a bite from the rattlesnake, above you mama, you ask, when will peace be of importance to her people. Above you mama, you request for your children to unite and build, to unite and create like a company with its brand. Above you mama, your eyes full of tears for the millions who have no say above fighting for their survival, because to them existence is by the trunk of the mighty elephant. Mama we pride in you for keeping us safe even in emergencies, insurgencies, panic, fear, hate, peace. We love you and hope you love us back. ” By G.
The Republic of Kenya celebrates many national and religious holidays throughout the year. The Kenyan Parliament has set-aside specific holidays that are celebrated the same day each year as national holidays, and requires all people be given the right to commemorate holidays on the marked days. The Parliament has established that all national holidays are days off from work. If the holiday falls on a Sunday, the following business day is acknowledged as the holiday.
Employers and government officials can ask employees to work on those days with proper forms of compensation, such as extra pay for the holiday work or a different paid day off.
Muslim and Hindu holidays as well as the Christian Easter celebrations are based on a lunar cycle. Because of this, they fall on different days each year. Kenya is a very diverse country with many different cultural, religious, and professional backgrounds. Many of these different groups also celebrate certain holidays in their specific areas or within their cultural group. These celebrations are acknowledged by the Kenyan Parliament, but they are not officially recognised as public holidays. To start with, in accordance with the chronological integrity of the Kenyan calendar, the recognised and gazetted public holidays, include:
1. THE EASTER HOLIDAY
This is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary. It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer and penance.
The week before Easter is called Holy Week, and it contains Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Maundy and Last Supper, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Celebration of Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism. In Kenya, the believers are the most acquainted and celebrate this day with a lot of vigour with dance, some church, the Passion of Christ, some believers dramatise and crucify their ”volunteers”. Then there’s more booze, dance and night clubbing from Friday to Sunday and some hours on Monday.
2. LABOUR DAY
This is a public holiday which is acknowledged in Kenya on 1st of May every year. All the workers especially those in the public offices tend to join hands in a public square in big celebrations of the particular day. The President is most likely to address Kenyans in the particular event. In case of any other commitment by the president outside the country that would hinder him from addressing Kenyans, the Deputy President assumes the role.
Madaraka Day, 1 June, commemorates the day that Kenya attained internal self-rule in 1963, preceding full independence from the United Kingdom on 12 December 1963.The day is set aside to commemorate when Kenya became a self-ruling nation. On this day, the main
event takes place at a chosen Stadium in the Capital city of Kenya. The President addresses the nation, and the uniformed military, singers, and traditional dancers from around the country provide entertainment for the crowds.
The day is full of cheerful activities, including family picnics and games in the public parks. Many people take this opportunity to go back to their hometowns for the occasion, and often a big meal of goat or chicken is prepared for the special day. Retail business in Nairobi is slower on this day, while public transportation to up-country areas
is heavier, crowded than normal.
4. EID AL FITR
It is marked on18th of July on the Kenyan calendar.
Eid al-Fitr, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. The religious Eid is a single day during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims throughout the world observe a joyous three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking).
On the day of Idd, many Muslims attend communal prayers, listen to a sermon and give zakat al-fitr (charity in the form of food). After the Eid prayer, Muslims usually scatter to visit various family and friends, give gifts. Although there are many anti-muslims in Kenya, it doesn’t mean that Christians and other believers fail to celebrate, they comply as this day is still gazetted as a public holiday in Kenya. Muslims also hold a big population in Kenya this is evident of the Sharia Law and banks without interest charging like the First Community Bank.
5. MASHUJAA DAY / HEROES DAY.
It is a national day in Kenya, which is observed on 20th October to collectively honour those who contributed and contribute towards the struggle for Kenya’s independence or positively contribute in the post independence Kenya. It is a colourful and spectacular event as Kenyans pledge their loyalty and gratitude towards the freedom fighters.
6. JAMHURI DAY
Is a national holiday in Kenya, celebrated on 12 December each year. The holiday is meant to officially mark the date of Kenya’s establishment as a republic which happened on 12 December 1964. The country also gained full independence from the United Kingdom one year earlier on 12 December 1963, so Jamhuri Day is a double event and is generally regarded as Kenya’s most important holiday, marked by
numerous festivities which celebrate the country’s cultural heritage. On the first day when Jomo Kenyatta, became the first Kenyan president.
7. CHRISTMAS DAY
This is a national holiday and across the world that acknowledges the Jewish birth of Jesus Christ. It is chronologically held on 25th of December of every year in the Kenyan calendar. This is the most recognised and most waited holiday day as it marks the peak of concluding the year. There is a lot of festivities and worship. The low-class identified people in Kenya usually tend to have this day as
the only celebration day for the whole year.
8. BOXING DAY.
Growing up we always translated it literally as, boxing day, being busy boxing is celebrated on 26th of December, when servants and tradesmen would traditionally receive gifts known as a “Christmas box” from their masters. In Kenya people exchange a lot of gifts during this particular day and ”box” a little.
9. NEW YEAR’S DAY
We celebrate, hope, love and kick booze like there will be no other day in our lives. Anticipation of new beginnings is the words we speaketh, our souls we pour out to the ”new year” claiming for it to bring beautiful beginnings. Fireworks are the new dream-works and we hug our enemies, friends and bosses, with our glasses held up in the air, ”let this year bring joy, hope and prosperity”. As time wears, we realise, these are the same old lines we used the past, past and past year, aren’t they? We still say, ”HAPPY NEW YEAR’
All these days are highlighted in the Kenyan calendar as public rest days. During Former President Moi’s regime the number of holidays were many, we enjoyed so much rest. But many analysts became critical, we don’t need lots of rest at the expense of building the nation. Sometimes, it may seem too long time from Monday to Saturday or even Sunday, do you believe we need more holidays than there are? Do public holidays mean something to you as a Kenyan, or is a public holiday in your country of importance ? Though not public holidays, Kenyans love their Friday and Saturday nights where night club business is considered, ”booming business”. That’s a holiday of sorts for most people, grabbing a drink with coworkers after a long work week is fun never to be missed. Wednesdays are regarded as Ladies Night.
P.S: I can attest to the fact that, none of these holidays do I really celebrate not that they don’t mean anything to me, actually they do. It’s just that, LIFE takes precedence. This piece has been written by Kim. Like his articles? Want to see more of his writing? Also comment.
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