Madaraka Day, also known as Self-Governance Day, is observed on June 1 every year in the Republic of Kenya. This day celebrates the first time Kenya gained independence from the United Kingdom when it achieved internal self-ruling on the same day in 1963. Kenyans across the country celebrate this day by attending military parades and other festivals promoted by the government and other organizations.
History of Madaraka Day
Kenya is an Eastern African territory with a history dating back millions of years. Archeologists and historians have discovered over two million-year-old fossils and evidence of human life in the region. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the Masai people — an indigenous group that inhabits Kenya to this day — took control of what is now known as Central Kenya and prohibited all trading. The Masai allowed two German missionaries to settle in a nearby region near the end of the 19th century. At the time, these were the only foreigners that could get past them.
Kenya became a German protectorate in 1885, and the Imperial British East Africa Company arrived in 1888. To avoid potential conflict and war, Germany handed over the coastal territory to Britain in 1890. During the World War, however, even with a truce, German militaries didn’t relent in their demand for total control of the land. The British Indian Army troops were deployed and regained control with the help of the 400,000 Africans who had been mobilized to fight in the war. It was in 1920 that Kenya officially gained its name and became a British colony.
For the first time since 1920, the country achieved internal self-rule in June 1963. This means that Kenya declared its independence from the United Kingdom through the Kenya Independence Act of 1963. However, it was not until December of the following year, 1964, that Kenya was officially declared a republic and given the name it still bears today, the Republic of Kenya. ‘Madaraka’ is a word in Swahili that translates to ‘authority,’ which is why June 1 was designated Madaraka Day.
Madaraka Day timeline
The Imperial British East Africa Company arrives in Kenya.
Kenya officially becomes a British colony during the World War.
Kenya declares its independence from the United Kingdom on June 1.
Kenya is proclaimed a Republic in December.
Madaraka Day FAQs
What is the difference between Madaraka Day and Jamhuri Day?
Jamhuri Day is a holiday that celebrates the day when Kenya became a republic. Madaraka Day celebrates Kenya’s internal independence from the United Kingdom.
How safe is Kenya?
Because of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping, you should always exercise extra caution in Kenya. Some locations are at higher risk than others.
What is Kenya famous for?
Kenya’s most famous attractions are the Big Five and the Great Wildebeest Migration. The country is also noted for having world-class athletes, a diverse ecosystem, and fantastic safari sites.
How to Observe Madaraka Day
Attend a parade
Every year, incredible military parades are held to commemorate Madaraka Day. You can show your support by attending one and waving the Kenyan flag.
Attend a festival
There are many festivals in the country that you can attend. Choose the one closest to you and have fun celebrating this day!
Set up the flag of Kenya
Show your support for the holiday by hanging the Kenyan flag in front of your house. This way, you’re also promoting the event to your neighbors, family, and friends!
5 Interesting Facts About Kenya
There are lots of reserves
Did you know that the country has about 50 reserves and national parks?
It is a language haven
Despite having only two official languages, Swahili and English, over 60 languages are spoken in Kenya.
A Nobel pioneer from Kenya
Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, becoming the first woman in history to do so — and she’s Kenyan!
Coffee is fancy in Kenya
Coffee is considered a commodity in Kenya, and it is one of the most valuable exports in the country; however, the average Kenyan does not drink coffee because it is quite expensive there.
It has the best runners
Many of the world's best runners are from Kenya, and they have broken world records in marathons all over the world.
Why Madaraka Day is Important
It’s all about independence
Holidays that celebrate independence are always great because they remind us of our freedom! Where would we be without our independence and freedom? That is why it’s important to take a day and be thankful for what our country and its citizens have achieved.
It unites Kenyans
Everyone in Kenya comes together to celebrate this day. It’s the best way to celebrate our achievements and remember those who fought long and hard for our freedom.
The importance of taking the first step
This holiday reminds us of how important it is to take the first step and celebrate it. Without Madaraka Day, Kenya wouldn’t have the full independence it has today.
Madaraka Day dates