Heroes’ Day (Mashujaa Day) in Kenya.

Kenyan flag
Kenyan flag

Heroes’ day (Mashujaa Day)in Kenya is celebrated on October 20. This is to remember all Kenyans who contributed to Kenya gaining her independence in 1963. The day was initially known as Kenyatta Day. It was named after the late first president, mzee Jomo Kenyatta. Mashujaa means heroes in Kiswahili. Therefore, it is a Kiswahili interpretation of Heroes day. The celebration was graced by the Kenyan President and other dignitaries. It is an official public holiday.

History of Heroes’ day.

Kenya was colonized by the British. In 1963, It gained its independence. Upon gaining independence, a number of celebration activities took place. Among these activities was the hoisting of the Kenyan flag at the peak of Mt. Kenya. This was done by Kisoi Munyao. He hoisted it at the point of Lenana which is the third highest peak on Mt. Kenya. Other activities included sporting and dancing. All these were in the bid to create a Kenyan national symbol and a triumph of rejecting and defeating colonial rule in Kenya.

From 1952, the late mzee Jomo Kenyatta was a vocal campaigner towards rejecting British colonial rule in Kenya. He was working hand in hand with Achieng’ Oneko, Bildad Kaggia, Fred Kubai, Kung’u Karumba and Paul Ngei. The six (popularly known as Kapenguria six) were arrested and detained for associating with the Mau Mau freedom fighter movement. The colonial master believed that the mau mau was being led by the six.

Kapenguria six detainment led to the birth of Kenyatta day. Initially, a few Kenyans celebrated more so the activists. By 1959, Kenyatta day was popular and in 1963 the Kenyan constitution enshrined the day.

Renaming of Kenyatta day to Mashujaa Day/Heroes’ day

Essentially, October 20 holiday (Kenyatta day) is named after founding Kenya’s first president, the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. Kenyatta was the figurehead at the time of independence and as such the day was known as Kenyatta day.

After the promulgation of the 2010 constitution, Kenyatta day changed to Mashujaa/Heroes day. This change was necessitated by the need to recognize all Kenyans who struggled for independence. They all deserve the honor.

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