Madaraka Day

Madaraka Day is a national holiday that’s observed annually in Kenya on June 1st. It commemorates the day when Kenya attained self-rule after being a British colony for many years. The word “Madaraka” means “ruling power or authority” in Swahili.

It’s considered a momentous day, and Kenyans gather in the thousands at the venue selected for the official event. Other events happen all across Kenya, and these usually involve dancing and singing.

The History of Madaraka Day

Prior to the 15th century, the Swahili had built the city of Mombasa into a major port city and established a major trade hub with Arabia, Persia, and India. It continued to be one until the 17th century when the Swahili coast was conquered by the Omani Arabs. The Omani Arabs expanded the slave trade and sold them not only to plantations in Oman and Zanzibar but also to Portuguese slavers.

In the 19th century, the Imperial British East Africa Company arrived in Kenya, and in 1920, it officially became a British colony. This holiday marks the end of the British colonial era and the day it became the Republic of Kenya on December 12, 1963.

Facts About Kenya

As we continued digging into Madaraka Day, we learned a lot of interesting facts about Kenya. That’s why we’ve decided to list some of these facts so that everyone can learn about Kenya. Let’s dig into it a little deeper.

  • Kenya has over 333 miles of coastline. Some of the more popular beach destinations are Diani Beach and Malindi Beach.
  • Kenyan men can have more than one wife.
  • The first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize was Wangari Maathai, and she was from Kenya.
  • Most Kenyans speak Swahili as their native language. Swahili is one of the most spoken languages in the world.
  • “Jambo” is a common greeting among Kenyans.
  • People in Kenya drive on the left-hand side of the road, just like motorists in the UK.
  • In Kenya, there are over 60 languages spoken besides the two official languages: English and Swahili.
  • Kenya has two seasons: the rainy season and the dry season.
  • In Kenya, primary education is compulsory and free. Secondary education is also free, but it’s not mandatory.
  • A maize porridge known as ugali is served as a side dish in Kenya.
  • Kenya is home to more than 1,132 species of birds.
  • Kenya has a population of over 49 million people.
  • Kenya’s largest lake is Lake Turkana.

Observing Madaraka Day

Madaraka Day is a momentous occasion, and thousands of people take part in its celebration. At the main venue for this holiday, people show up to participate in the festivities. There is usually a speech given by the President of Kenya.

This is usually accompanied by the playing of the national anthem. Other festivities in Kenya include parties, parades, and plenty of dancing.

Where is it celebrated?
Kenya (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
June 1 Saturday
Next year (2025)
June 1 Sunday
Last year (2023)
June 1 Thursday