Madaraka Day, also known as Self-Governance Day, is observed on June 1 every year in the Republic of Kenya.
Madaraka is the Swahili word for ‘power’ and hence it’s a public holiday that commemorates the day that Kenya took power when it attained internal self-rule in 1963.
Kenyans across the country celebrate this day by attending military parades and other festivals promoted by the government and other organizations.
This year, thousands of people flocked to the Embu Stadium in Embu County for the 60th Madaraka Day celebrations set to be led by President William Ruto.
By 6am, the stadium was already full, save for the VIP sitting area reserved for dignitaries while at around 8am the military parade was conducting their final dress rehearsal.
The event will have military parades and entertainment that will include singing and dancing.
The most important part of the event will the Madaraka day speech, given by President William Ruto.
The speech often addresses the struggle for freedom in the country and touches on other issues that are affecting the country. The national anthem will be sung to bring the celebrations to an end.
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.
BY ESTHER MUTURI