What you need to know:
- Culture defines who we are and where we have come from to get to this point in our national development.
- National days are useful in mobilising citizens to speak with one voice and work together for the common good.
Today, October 10, Kenyans have an opportunity to take a break and enjoy a national public holiday as they reflect on the developments of recent years.
Initially celebrated as Moi Day, in honour of the second President of the Republic, the holiday has been repackaged as a day to think about culture and its contribution to the creation of a national identity.
Utamaduni Day is in recognition of the pivotal role culture plays in the lives of Kenyans.
Culture defines who we are and where we have come from to get to this point in our national development. Moi Day had been scrapped as part of the reforms in the 2010 Constitution that sought to do away with personality cults and the worshipping of political leaders.
However, it was reinstated after someone challenged in court the decision to scrap it. The only difference is that it is now not about former President Daniel arap Moi.
Coincidentally, Utamaduni Day falls on Sunday, and, therefore, this will be an extended holiday. This renamed holiday is meant to emphasise the need for Kenyans to appreciate the country’s rich cultural diversity.
As Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has explained, it is intended to promote unity, national cohesion and economic progress.
It will be recalled that in the last few years of his long reign, even President Moi seemed uneasy about this holiday being celebrated, insisting that it should be marked quietly as a recognition of service to the nation. However, the day was divisive as campaigners for greater freedoms and democratisation opposed it as a manifestation of the promotion of a personality cult.
National days are useful in mobilising citizens to speak with one voice and work together for the common good. Utamaduni Day should be a vehicle that cultivates national pride and rallies unity to pave the way for development.