Madaraka Day is celebrated on 1 June and commemorates the day that Kenya attained internal self-rule in 1963.
The 2019 Madaraka Day will be the 56th to be commemorated by Kenyans. The celebrations will be held in Narok County home to the world reknown Maasai Mara Game Reserve and the eighth wonder of the World “The wildebeest migration” an annual trek of wildebeest to and from Maasai Mara and Serengeti in Tanzania.
The Narok County Government through its Governor Samuel Tunai announced it will offer Domestic tourists free access to the Masai Mara Game Reserve on June 1. The County will also showcase traditional Maa culture starting from Samburu, Kajiado to Narok.
Meaning of Madaraka Day
Madaraka is a Swahili word that means ‘power’ and refers to 1 June 1963 when Kenya became a self-governing country with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta becoming the first prime minister.
It is one of the national holidays created by Article 8 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. The others are Jamhuri Day commemorated on 12th December and Mashujaa Day celebrated on 20th October.
History of Madaraka Day
By the late 19th Century, European colonial powers begin the scramble and partitioning of Africa and in 1885 divide Africa between them at a conference in Berlin. A line is drawn to Mount Kilimanjaro and on to Lake Victoria at latitude 1° S. The British sphere of influence is to be to the north, the German to the south. The line remains to this day the border between Kenya and Tanzania.
In 1888 Britain assigns a commercial company, The Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEA) the right to administer and develop the territory which stretches all the way from the east coast to the kingdom of Buganda, on the northwest shore of Lake Victoria.
The colonials encourage settlement in Kenya’s highlands by farmers of European origin subsequently renaming the region ‘the White Highlands’. By the 1920s new legislation on land tenure unilaterally favours the settlers and in many areas the Kikuyu, the largest tribe inhabiting the highlands, are the main losers.
This leads to the MAU MAU uprising which was amorphous groups established to assert African rights and, more specifically, to recover appropriated Kikuyu land. The colonials suppressed the movements which led to armed struggle in 1952 leading to the MAU MAU uprising. The colonial government declared a state of emergency, arrested Jomo Kenyatta and charged him with planning the Mau Mau uprising. He was sentenced in March 1953 to seven years’ imprisonment.
The rebellions which spread across Africa, led to a conference in 1960 in London which gave Africans a majority of seats in the legislative council. Kenya’s first African parties were formed to take part in the developing political process. Although Jomo Kenyatta was still in detention in 1960, his colleagues elected him president of their newly formed political party KANU (Kenya African National Union).
He was released by the British in 1961 and led Kenya’s delegation to London for independence negotiations in 1962.
On 1 June 1963, Kenya became a self-governing country when Mzee Jomo Kenyatta became the first prime minister.
Full independence from British rule followed on 12 December 1963 when Kenya became an independent nation.