Kenya declares Minorities Rights Day an annual event

President William Ruto during a joint media interview from State House, Nairobi on December 17, 2023.

Photo credit: PCS

What you need to know:

  • The President said he has been championing the inclusion of marginalized groups in his government.
  • Head of Public Service Mr Felix Kosgei asked the marginalized groups to embrace their culture and values.

Kenya will henceforth annually observe the Minorities Rights Day on December 18.

President William Ruto made the declaration on Monday during the launch of Minorities Rights Day in Kenya at the Bomas of Kenya.

In a speech delivered on his behalf by the Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, resident Ruto said the annual event will be in keeping with the Constitution to promote inclusiveness, non-discrimination and protecting the rights of minorities and those who have been previously marginalised.

“I’m pleased to announce that the marking of the International Minority Rights Day shall from now onwards be an annual event. It will be an occasion to critically think about our successes and shortcomings, to cherish our diversity and how different backgrounds contribute to our national unity, because out of many, we are one,” President Ruto said.

During the colourful event that attracted minority groups from different parts of the country, the President said he has been championing the inclusion of marginalized groups in his government.

Marginalized communities

“It cannot be that 60 years after independence, some communities in Kenya are yet to fully enjoy the fruits of independence, let alone the feeling of recognition and inclusion. This, under my administration, will change,” President Ruto.

He said in the last administration, in which he served as Deputy President, he was able to form a technical department for minority and marginalized community affairs as well as championing affirmative action that saw majority of the marginalized communities being appointed to government positions.

The President said Under Executive Order No.02 of 2023, he has established the Minorities and Marginalized Affairs Unit under the Presidency which shall spearhead the agenda from his office of recognizing, promoting, and protecting the rights of such groups.

The issue of land rights was also described by the President as the main issue that has disadvantaged marginalized communities over many years.

He said the marginalized groups have been largely affected by what the Constitution terms as present and historical land injustice.

Culture and practices

“I direct the Ministry of Lands to work closely with the National Land Commission to comprehensively address these concerns as guided by articles 60, 63, and 67 of the Constitution.”

At the same time, the President said the majority of marginalized communities have suffered from the adverse effects of climate change.

“Many of these communities remain marred in hunger, disease, and an unending circle of poverty. It is about time that we turn the tide, and I’m happy that Kenya is leading especially in Africa in mitigating this climate change.” 

Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Mr Felix Kosgei asked the marginalized groups to embrace their culture, practice their religion, and use their language without discrimination.

“These celebrations, therefore gives you the opportunity to showcase to the rest of the county the richness of your culture, heritage, values and principles that have remarkably contributed to defining Kenya’s collective identity,” Mr Kosgei said.