October 20 – Heroes' Day (Mashujaa Day) in Kenya

Posted on October 20, 2013

Today is a national holiday that celebrates all those who contributed to Kenya's independence.

October 20 used to be called Kenyatta Day for the first president of the independent Kenya. 

The date was chosen to commemorate the detention of Jomo Kenyatta and five other “freedom fighters.” 

I discovered that some people have strong negative feelings about Kenyatta, who did many good things but also many bad things, and they were very happy that the name of the holiday was changed. Others disagree; they point out that the name Kenyatta is an important name in Kenya's history, and they argue that it should have continued as the holiday name. (Jomo Kenyatta's son Uhuru Kenyatta is the current president of the nation!) Some people think that the holiday should be expanded and renamed Mau Mau Week, after the freedom fighters of the 1950s who were ruthlessly put down by British troops. Apparently there is some disagreement about whether or not Kenyatta was a member of Mau Mau.

I personally rather like the name Mashujaa Day, which is “Heroes' Day” in Swahili. I think that allows people to celebrate those they feel were truly heroic, and to honor heroism itself...also, this name acknowledges the importance of the Kenyan outlook on its own history by using Swahili over English.

Speaking of names...

Kenya-the-nation is named for Mount Kenya, which is the second highest mountain in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. Even though this 17,000-foot mountain is just south of the equator, there are 11 small glaciers on its flanks, and it was covered by an ice cap for thousands of years. The name of the mountain used to be Kirinyaga, which means “mountain of whiteness,” but the British colonizers couldn't say that name properly, so it was simplified to Kenya.

Jomo Kenyatta must have created his name from his nation's name, because he was born Kamau wa Ngengi. And at the time of his birth, his nation was called British East Africa!

Learn more about Kenya in this and this other earlier post.

Also on this date:

Plan Ahead:

Check out my Pinterest boards for:
And here are my Pinterest boards for:

No comments:

Post a Comment