”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 theÂ rattlesnake, above youÂ 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 holidaysÂ throughout the year. The Kenyan Parliament has set-aside specificÂ holidays that are Â celebrated the same day each year as nationalÂ holidays, and requires all people be given the right to commemorateÂ holidays on the marked days. The Parliament has established thatÂ all national holidays are days off from work. If the holiday falls onÂ aÂ Sunday, the following business day is acknowledged as the holiday.
Employers and government officials can ask employees to work on thoseÂ days with proper forms of compensation, such as extra pay for theÂ holiday work or a different paid day off.
Muslim and Hindu holidays as well as the Christian Easter celebrationsÂ are based on a lunar cycle. Because of this, they fall onÂ different days each year. Kenya is a very diverse country with manyÂ different cultural, religious, and professional backgrounds. Many ofÂ these different groups also celebrate certain holidays in theirÂ specific areas or within their cultural group. These celebrations are acknowledged by the Kenyan Parliament, but they are not officiallyÂ recognised as public holidays.Â To start with, in accordance with the chronological integrity of theÂ Kenyan calendar, Â the recognised and gazetted public holidays, Â include:Â
1. Â THE EASTER HOLIDAY
This is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of JesusÂ Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as havingÂ occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion byÂ Romans at Calvary. It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ,Â preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer and penance.
The week before Easter is called Holy Week, and it contains Â Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Maundy and Last Supper,Â as well as Good Friday, Â commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Celebration of EasterÂ is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of itsÂ symbolism. In Kenya, theÂ believers are the most acquainted and celebrate this day with a lot ofÂ 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.Â
2. Â LABOUR DAY
This is a public holiday which is acknowledged in Kenya on 1st of MayÂ every year. All the workers especially those inÂ the public offices tend to join hands in a public square in bigÂ celebrations of the particular day. The President isÂ most likely to address Kenyans in the particular event. In case ofÂ any other commitment by the president outside the country that wouldÂ hinder him from addressing Kenyans, the Deputy PresidentÂ assumes the role.
Madaraka Day,Â 1 June, commemorates the day that Kenya attainedÂ internal self-rule in 1963, preceding full independence from theÂ United Kingdom on 12 December 1963.The day is set aside to commemorate whenÂ Kenya became a self-ruling nation. On this day, the main
event takes place at a chosen Stadium in the Capital city of Kenya.Â The President addresses the nation, and the uniformed military,Â singers, and traditional dancers from around the country provideÂ entertainment for the crowds.
The day is full of cheerful activities, including family picnics andÂ games in the public parks. Many people take this opportunity to goÂ back to their hometowns for the occasion, and often a big meal of goatÂ or chicken is prepared for the special day. Retail business in NairobiÂ is slower on this day, while public transportation to up-country areas
is heavier, crowded than normal.
4.Â EID AL FITR
It is marked on18th of July on the Kenyan calendar.
Eid al-Fitr, is an important religious holiday celebrated by MuslimsÂ worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month ofÂ fasting. The religious Eid is a single day during which Muslims areÂ not permitted to fast. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims throughout theÂ world observe a joyous three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr (theÂ Festival of Fast-Breaking).
On the day of Idd, many Muslims attend communal prayers, listen to aÂ sermon and give zakat al-fitr (charity in the form of food). Â After the Eid prayer, Muslims usually scatter to visit various familyÂ and friends, give gifts. Although there are many anti-muslims inÂ Kenya, it doesn’t mean that Christians and other believers fail toÂ celebrate, they comply as this day is still gazetted as a publicÂ 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. Â MASHUJAA DAY / HEROES DAY.
ItÂ is a national day in Kenya, which is observed on 20th OctoberÂ to collectively honour those who contributed and contributeÂ towards the struggle for Kenya’s independence or positivelyÂ contribute in the post independence Kenya. It is a colourful andÂ spectacular event as Kenyans pledge their loyalty and gratitudeÂ towards the freedom fighters.
6. Â JAMHURI DAY
Is a national holiday in Kenya, celebrated on 12 December eachÂ year. The holiday is meant to officially mark the date of Kenya’sÂ establishment as a republic which happened on 12 December 1964. TheÂ country also gained full independence from the United Kingdom one yearÂ earlier on 12 December 1963, so Jamhuri Day is a double event and isÂ generally regarded as Kenya’s most important holiday, marked by
numerous festivities which celebrate the country’s cultural heritage.Â On the first day when Jomo Kenyatta, became the first Kenyan president.
7. Â CHRISTMAS DAY
This is a national holiday and across the world that acknowledges theÂ Jewish birth of Jesus Christ. It is chronologically held on 25th ofÂ December of every year in the Kenyan calendar. This is the mostÂ recognised and most waited holiday day as it marks the peak ofÂ concluding the year. There is a lot of festivities and worship. TheÂ low-class identified people in Kenya usually tend to have this day as
the only celebration day for the whole year.
8. Â BOXING DAY.
Growing up we always translated it literally as, boxing day, being busy boxing is celebrated on 26th of December,Â when servants and tradesmen would traditionally receiveÂ gifts known as a “Christmas box” from their masters. In Kenya peopleÂ exchange a lot of gifts during this particular day and ”box” a little.
9. NEWÂ YEAR’SÂ 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 asÂ 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.Â
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.Â
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