Wednesday 20th October 2010, marks a historical moment in Kenya. It is the day Kenyans celebrated the first-ever Mashujaa Day to honour heroes and heroines who contributed to the nation’s liberation struggle. The day, previously referred to as Kenyatta Day, was renamed this year following the passing of the new Constitution.
The government has taken several initiatives to ensure national heroes and heroines are honoured. Three years ago, it constituted a task force to carry out a countrywide data collection on the criteria for identifying, recognising and honouring them.
During this year’s celebration, President Kibaki indicated that his government is working towards establishing a National Heroes Monument at Heroes Corner in Uhuru Gardens which he said would be ready by the end of 2011.
The new constitution, promulgated on August 24th earlier this year, did away with a lot of the previous public holidays, including Moi Day, named after the former president Daniel Arap Moi. Left are 3 National Days: Madaraka Day, Heroes Day and Jamhuri Day, commemorating respectively the day Kenya obtained self-rule, the heroes that have fought for the country, and the day when Kenya achieved full independence.
Mashujaa day gives Kenyans the rare opportunity to be able, henceforth, to recognise and honour members of the Mau Mau movement as well as a new lineage of modern-day heroes and heroines who were never recognised before.
Previously celebrations centred around remembering traditional heroes such as the Kapenguria Six, who include Kenya’s founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Paul Ngei, Bildad Kaggia, Achieng’ Oneko, Kungu Karumba and Fred Kubai.
The Heritage ministry has so far built mausoleums for Ngei, Kagia and Oneko, while work is ongoing on Kubai’s mausoleum. A monument in honour of Karumba is being built. The ministry has also developed a Draft National Heroes Bill, which is awaiting Cabinet approval.
So brace yourself for a great many new interesting monumental places to visit and add them to your bucket list.