20-10-2022 by Freddie del Curatolo
20 October has always been a special date in Kenya.
For 59 years, it has been the day of the birth, in 1889, of Kenya's first president, the 'Father of the Fatherland' Jomo Kenyatta.
At first it was celebrated by political activists who saw in him the man who would lead the country to independence, then from 1963 on 20 October each year it became a national holiday, as 'Kenyatta Day'.
After the adoption of the new constitution in 2010, 'ad personam' holidays disappeared in the country and Kenyatta father became associated with other national heroes who deserve to be remembered on the same day. First, the revolutionary activists who, together with him, were imprisoned in Kapenguria, on the Turkana road, by the British on charges of being the inspiration and masterminds of the Mau Mau movement. They were Achieng' Oneko, Bildad Kaggia, Fred Kubai, Kung'u Karumba and Paul Ngei, better known as the 'Kapenguria Six'.
However, there are even older national heroes, such as the first Kenyan 'pasionaria', the rebel Mijikenda Mekatilili Wa Menza. Born in the hinterland of Kilifi and living on the outskirts of Malindi, she fought against the harsh conditions under which the farmers in and around Malindi were forced to live, going so far as to slap a British officer in public. For this and for planning an attack on a settlers' vehicle, she was twice locked up in the detention camp (a kind of concentration camp) in Kisii, Maasai land. Both times she managed to escape and while the first time she was captured, the second time, after almost 1000 kilometres on foot, saw her return triumphant to her people, welcomed as a queen. Eventually, after the First World War, the coastal governors of the British Empire came to terms with her and the local peasants and granted them better treatment.
National hero is also the politician Harry Thuku, leader of the Kikuyu Youth Association, founded in 1921. In fact the first national party in Kenya. For this he was arrested in 1922 and that action led to the first major street protest of the Kenyan people. Thuku was exiled to Somalia for nine years. He later resumed political activity, albeit always in moderate and appeasing tones, becoming a coffee farmer and the first African member of the Kenya Coffee Growers Union.
Among the heroes of the Resistance was the revolutionary Dedan Kimathi, leader of the Mau Mau, the extremist and violent wing of the Kenyan liberation movement. Kimathi was executed by the British army in 1957. Also worthy of mention are two brilliant politicians who were the victims of mysterious murders in the 1960s, the 'African Kennedy' Tom Mboya and the socialist Pio Gama Pinto.
Recently, the title of Mashujaa was not only given to Nobel Peace Prize winner Wathari Maathai, the first African woman to receive this accolade, but also to the great Mijikenda spiritual leader Katana Kalulu, who was barbarously murdered in 2014, to the Mau Mau veteran Kitu Wa Kahengeri and to the lawyer Joseph Karisa Mwarandu who, after suing the British government for the torture suffered in the 1950s by his own compatriots, through a years-long trial in London managed to obtain anything but symbolic compensation. The list is always growing and lately includes anyone who carries high the value of the Kenyan flag. That is why two years ago the honour also went to the marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge, who as the record-holder of the Olympic competition fell below 2 hours after an epic solo ride followed live by more than a billion people worldwide.
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We have already talked on this portal several times about how much as Kenyans love public holidays, .
Yesterday's news is that the government proclaimed for Tuesday
The 20th of October Kenya celebrates the day of the national heroes, that is the "Mashujaa day".
by Freddie del Curatolo
by Freddie del Curatolo
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Today is a special day in Kenya, celebrated with a national holiday.
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by Freddie del Curatolo
October 20 has always been a special date in Kenya.
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