Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Madaraka Day

     After decades of British rule, Kenya gained independence in 1963, on December 12th. To ensure a smooth turnover of power to the Kenyans, the British government supervised them in six months of self-rule. The first day of this self-rule was June 1st, earlier that year. This day every year is celebrated as the national holiday, Madaraka Day.

     We were invited to attend a Madaraka Day celebration in Msambweni. There were many local dignitaries present. Mostly military, police, and local politicians. The ranking civilian for the local population was the District Commissioner- she was the one who invited us and used this day to allow us to switch from our civilian clothes to our uniforms.

     All morning, there were activities and entertainment. Speeches were given by politicians, Imams, Ministers, and members of the military and police forces. Songs, dancing, and theatrical skits, and demonstrations were performed by local civic groups and school children.

A local politician addresses the attendees. Police chiefs
and US Navy can be seen interacting in the foreground.

These dancers are moving in a circle around musicians,
preparing for their part in the celebration.

Here is a short video of their dancing:

There was more dancing and singing as seen in the next video.

At one point a boxing match was held, complete with a referee in whites and the combatants' children serving as corner attendants.

This celebration is held in many different levels all across Kenya, from homegrown activities as we observed to grand affairs in full military regalia. It was a great day to get to know the local population and it was an honor to have been invited to attend in uniform.