October 10 – Moi Day in Kenya

Posted October 10, 2018

It was a holiday.
Then it wasn't.
Then it was again.

Do you know how official holidays are created? In the United States, Congress has the authority to create holidays for federal institutions (such as national parks) and employees, and for the District of Columbia (D.C.). State and city governments have the authority to create state and city holidays in addition to the federal holidays - and they sometimes do.

Banks and post offices and public schools, and a lot of other institutions, usually close on federal holidays. Private businesses can choose whether or not to close. Of course, there are people whose work is classified as "essential services" who may have to work even on a holiday. Even some federal employees are in this category.

In Kenya, there may well be a similar process of establishing holidays. Moi Day was an official holiday celebrated on October 10 every year. It is a recognition of Daniel Moi, the second President of Kenya, and it was first established to celebrate Moi's 10 years in power (hence, I guess, the holiday being celebrated on 10/10). He ended up ruling for 24 years, much of that time acting like more of a despot or tyrant than a president. 

When Kenya's new constitution was created in 2010, the holiday was scrapped. So 10 / 10 / 10 was the first day that Kenyans did not celebrate Moi Day since it was first begun.

In 2017, a judge ruled that removing the holiday without Parliament changing the Public Holidays Act or without the appropriate minister subbing in another holiday was illegal. The workers were supposed to have that day off as a paid holiday, and so the judge restored Moi Day.

Many Kenyans tweeted thanks to the judge for getting their holiday back, and some even tweeted that they should have an entire week off because of seven years of missed holidays. But some Kenyans don't want the holiday to be named for Moi. Moi started off popular but was hated by many by the time he finally retired in 2002. Why not name the holiday for environmental activist Wangari Maathai, at least one Kenyan suggested.

In the past when Moi was serving as president, there were sort of "our glorious leader" type ceremonies, with soldiers marching past the president, a fly-by, and tribal dancing. Today will be the first 10 / 10 "Moi Day" celebration since 2009, so it will be interesting to see if and how it's celebrated other than most folks just staying home from work!

Hopefully many folks will have time to enjoy their beautiful nation...

Also on this date:

(Wednesday of the second full week of October)

(Second Wednesday in October)

aka Unity Day
(Second Wednesday in October)

Plan ahead:

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