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Kenya: Mashujaa Day – October 20, 2023

Mashujaa Day is observed on October 20 every year. However, in case this date ever falls on a weekend, the day is shifted to the following Monday, which is then declared as a public holiday. ‘Mashujaa’ is the Swahili word for ‘Heroes,’ and because of this, Mashujaa Day is called ‘Heroes’ Day’ also. This significant day, which honors all who have contributed to the fight for Kenya’s freedom, is a public holiday in the country.

History of Kenya: Mashujaa Day

Mashujaa Day was formerly known as Kenyatta Day, in honor of Jomo Kenyatta, who was an important figure in Kenyan politics. He was a freedom fighter who also held the offices of the Prime Minister and later, the President of Kenya.

Kenyatta played a crucial role in the independence movement in Kenya when the country fought the British colonial powers for its liberation. In October 1952, he was arrested along with four other people, namely, Achieng’ Oneko, Bildad Kaggia, Fred Kubai, Kung’u Karumba, and Paul Ngei, by the British powers in Kenya. He was charged with planning and directing the Mau Mau movement. Mau Mau was a rebel group that plotted to overthrow the British colonial government that ruled Kenya at the time. The Mau Mau Society was conspiring actively against the colonial government. These six Kenyan nationalists were tried in Kapenguria in 1952 — 53 and were imprisoned in Northern Kenya. They came to be known as the ‘Kapenguria Six.’

Their arrest was a significant development in the struggle for independence. As a result, October 20 was selected as a public holiday to celebrate the event and show respect for these six freedom fighters. The holiday was established by activists in 1958 and gathered huge popularity by 1959. When Kenya gained its independence in 1963, the date of October 20 was officially declared Kenyatta Day.

Kenya: Mashujaa Day timeline

1952
Arrest of Kenyatta

On October 20, the British colonial administration detains Kenyatta and five other crusaders of Kenya's independence movement.

1958
Celebration by Activists

The holiday is first commemorated by a small group of activists who are supporters of Kenyatta.

1959
Success

By this year, the holiday becomes a success.

1963
Kenya’s Independence

On December 12, Kenya gains independence from Britain, and the date is officially recognized as Kenyatta Day.

2010
Name Change

The name is changed and Kenyatta Day is officially Mashujaa Day.

Kenya: Mashujaa Day FAQs

Why was Kenyatta Day changed to Mashujaa Day?

As a result of Kenya’s adoption of a new constitution in August 2010, several alterations were made to the public holidays in the country. One of these alterations was the renaming of Kenyatta Day to Mashujaa Day, and the celebration’s focus was expanded to include everyone who had played a role in bringing Kenya closer to achieving its independence.

What did Kenya do to obtain independence?

After the first African Legislative Council elections in 1957, the electorate became more aggressive in calling for the release of Kenyatta. He was eventually released in August 1961. He later became the first Prime Minister of Kenya in December 1963, the year Kenya became independent.

What is the most critical aspect of Kenya's independence?

Following Kenya’s independence, the white colonial government was dismantled and replaced by a new Kenyan government. In 1963, the majority of Kenyan officials voted in the general elections.

Kenya: Mashujaa Day Activities

  1. Go for the festival in Nyayo

    Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi hosts a festival in honor of Mashujaa Day. The Kenyan flag's crimson, black, and green colors appear prominently in the military parade. A presidential address is delivered, and a motorcade parade takes place, followed by skydiving demonstrations.

  2. Visit the statue of Kenyatta

    Plan a visit to see the statue of Kenyatta, who is also known as the ‘Father of the Kenyan Nation.’ An international conference is also held every year at the Kenya International Conference Centre, Nairobi.

  3. Read Kenya’s history

    You can read relevant history books to know more about the rich history of Kenya. The country also has beautiful landscapes that you can explore.

5 Interesting Facts About Kenya

  1. Languages

    Both Swahili and English are recognized as the official languages of Kenya.

  2. Education

    Both primary and secondary education in Kenya is free as well as mandatory for all children.

  3. Driving

    Kenya has a left-side driving system.

  4. Marriage

    The Constitution of Kenya allows polygamy.

  5. Key Exports

    Kenya’s major exports include coffee, gold, black tea, refined oil, and cut flowers.

Why We Love Kenya: Mashujaa Day

  1. Strong patriotism

    The heroic people of Kenya fought tooth and nail to save their nation from colonial rule. Apart from that, they also struggled to save their nation’s natural environment for a favorable future.

  2. Family-oriented society

    Kenyans find it important to spend quality time with their family and friends. Kenyan delicacies like Chapati and Pilau are relished on every significant occasion.

  3. Historical event

    The event is a significant historical event for Kenyans. Since the arrest of the Kapenguria six, October 20 is considered an important national holiday.

Kenya: Mashujaa Day dates

YearDateDay
2022October 20Thursday
2023October 20Friday
2024October 21Monday
2025October 20Monday
2026October 20Tuesday

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