Madaraka Day

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Madaraka Day

***** Location: Kenya
***** Season: Cool dry season (1 June)
***** Category: Observances


The Swahili word Madaraka means “internal self-government” or “home rule”.

In May 1963, Independence elections were held in Kenya. On 1 June 1963, as the final step leading up to full independence on 12 December 1963 (see Jamhuri Day), Kenya was given Madaraka by the British colonial government, with Jomo Kenyatta becoming the first Prime Minister of Kenya.

Madaraka Day is a public holiday and is celebrated each year around the country. The main event takes place in Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi, where the President addresses the nation, and the crowds are entertained by the uniformed services as well as by singers and dancers from around the country. As on other public holidays, the President’s speech is awaited with expectation, and those who cannot attend the event, either watch it on television or read the newspaper reports the following day.

The atmosphere is festive, and many families enjoy picknicks and games in the public parks. Many people travel home for the occasion, and many a goat or chicken falls victim to their celebrations. Nairobi trade and commerce slow down more than on the average Sunday, while public transport to up-country areas is exceptionally busy.

Madaraka Day in 2007 was celebrated in the shadow of the expected general election later in the year, and at a time when the country was struggling with infamous gangs challenging the rule of law.

© Isabelle Prondzynski


Statue of Jomo Kenyatta outside Jomo Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), Nairobi

Photo © Isabelle Prondzynski


Kibaki has spoken, it's now time for action
Published: 2 June 2007
By: Daily Nation

President Kibaki yesterday led the nation in marking the 44th Madaraka celebrations, and made a number of pledges. The first is the Government's resolve to step up the war against the raging wave of violence across the country that has left hundreds of people dead.

As he spoke, his own Othaya backyard was mourning the callous and macabre killing of a chief and close relatives by suspected Mungiki adherents. A similar cloud of death was hanging over the heads of residents of the neighbouring Kangema constituency, Murang'a, represented by Internal Security minister John Michuki, where a chief had also been felled by a criminal gang.

The Head of State was quite emphatic that the Government will win the war against the merchants of death and similarly, asked the public to volunteer information about these gangs so that the security agencies can deal with them.

Although the country has registered impressive economic growth, hitting 6.1 per cent last year, all the gains risk being wiped out in a situation where violence prevails as this hampers any productive endeavour.

It is a tragedy that after 44 years of self-rule and when we thought that we had achieved national unity and social cohesion, we are still confounded by such a wave of violence, resulting in series of deaths. Not only is Mungiki the problem, there are other underground gangs that continue to unleash violence on helpless citizens. The State has the apparatus to deal with them all and the time is now.

President Kibaki also highlighted economic achievements under Narc's four-year rule, among them free primary education and devolution of State funding to the constituencies. Significantly, he used the occasion to state his commitment to basic freedoms - Press and association. In particular, his assurance on Press freedom was apt, coming at a time when the media are under siege due to the apparently draconian Media Bill set to be discussed in Parliament.

While his words are re-assuring, it is critical for the Government to demonstrate the commitment by dropping the controversial Bill that is bound to reverse all Press freedoms realised since independence.



President Kibaki, accompanied by the Chief of the General Staff Gen Jeremiah Kianga, walks to the dais after inspecting a guard of honour during celebrations to mark Madaraka Day at Nyayo national Stadium, Nairobi, on Friday.
Pictures by Boniface Mwangi

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


Nyayo stadium --
Kenyans waiting anxiously for
presidential speech

matatus full
radio stations tuned
glued to the TV

~ Dorine Atieno (Peacock)


TV stations
and radio stations
announce -- Madaraka!

~ Adelaide Luvandale


Coinage of Kenya with the portrait of Jomo Kenyatta, the first President of Kenya


Patrick Wafula writes :

Yesterday was our 44th Madaraka Day, but what do we celebrate with our people dying every day to Mungiki? These local hooligans have turned our peaceful nation into a terrorist state. This menace notwithstanding, we thank God for all the abundant good that our country is bestowed with. This is what we celebrate.

I spent my Madaraka Day in Upper Kabete taking a walk in the countryside with my three daughters Faith, Esther and Liz. It had just rained in the morning and a few hours later, it rained again. We were spending the weekend with our cousin Josephine who is a Nairobi University student stationed at Upper Kabete Campus. Through the hostel window:

behind the window
dark nimbus clouds --
slanting rain drops

After the rain:

brown stream
flowing down the landscape --
fresh rain

~ Patrick Wafula


I take a snap
on Kenyatta's monument-
Madaraka day

Madaraka day -
national flag sways
in the breeze

Siboko Yamame Winslause


a power cut hits
at the National Anthem --
Madaraka Day

Isabelle Prondzynski

Read more haiku about
- Madaraka Day 2012


Click on the PHOTO for more illustrations !

Related words

***** Jamhuri Day (12 December)


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