Today’s Mashujaa Day (Heroes Day) was a first-ever in Kenya. It used to be Kenyatta Day, dedicated to the admiration of former president Jomo Kenyatta. In all his modesty, he instituted it himself during his reign
Mahujaa Day is now a National Day honoring all the heroes that fought for the freedom, independence and progress of the nation, before and after independence.
The new constitution, promulgated on August 24th earlier this year, did away with a lot of the previous public holidays, including Moi Day, a former public holiday ex-president Daniel arap Moi once declared to honor himself.
The new National Days: Madaraka Day, Heroes Day and Jamhuri Day, commemorate respectively the day Kenya obtained self-rule, the heroes that have fought for the country, and the day when Kenya achieved full independence.
Like most public holidays anywhere, this is a great opportunity to have a late night the day before, and to sleep longer in the morning!
I could of course have gotten up early in the morning, to hear the President’s speech and see the accompanying shows at Nyayo Stadium. Those things generally come out even better on TV, though.
After some nice and relaxed morning hours, the new Mashujaa Day turned out to be an excellent occasion for enjoying some nice drinks and nyama choma (roasted meat), Kenya’s national dish.
Few people seemed to be aware in advance of what the new National Day was actually about, until TV started showing the footage from the official celebrations.
To me, a day dedicated to the all heroes that have fought for the country, sounds like a far better idea than one for a former dictator, albeit a benevolent one.
A relaxed day, watching the President speaking on TV, then meeting friends for drinks and nyama choma, is a perfect fit with the Nairobian way of life. Quite probably one of the best ways imaginable to celebrate a national day, actually! Apparently, a lot of others agreed, as the places we went were crowded.
Next on is Jamhuri Day, on December 12th, commemorating Kenya’s independence. I certainly won’t wait until then for the next round of choma, but I look forward to it nevertheless! 🙂