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    Utamaduni Day: Some Facts You Should Know

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    On October 10th, Kenyans celebrate Utamaduni Day as a national holiday.

    This special day was established to honor the many diverse cultural traditions that make up the fabric of the nation. Historically, the holiday was observed in memory of former Kenyan president Daniel Arap Moi. This celebration was formerly known as Moi Day up to the year 2020. It first became known as Huduma Day, and then in December 2020, it was renamed Utamaduni Day.

    Former President Daniel Arap Moi wanted the day to be celebrated as a day of service and volunteering, therefore the renaming of the national holiday (Huduma day) reflects that, according to a statement from the President’s Strategic Communication Unit.

    As part of the day’s commemorations, leaders around the country may gather for prayers that focus on giving back to others. For the sake of the current and future generations of Kenyans, everyone is invited to take part in the prayers and work for greater national unity, social justice, community cohesiveness, and sustainable development.

    Observance of Utamaduni Day: A Brief History

    Kenya’s second president and the country’s longest-serving leader, Daniel Arap Moi was in office from 1973 to 2002.

    To commemorate his accession to the office after the death of founding president Jomo Kenyatta in August 1978, the country used to observe Moi Day on October 10.

    At the age of 95, Moi passed away on February 4, 2020.

    After the Constitution of Kenya was officially enacted in August 2010, Moi Day was no longer recognized as a public holiday in Kenya.

    In 2017, however, the Supreme Court issued a verdict that overturned the decision of the parliament and restored it. The 2010 decision to abolish Moi Day was deemed illegal by Justice George Odunga under the Public Holidays Act.

    Justice Odunga pointed out that if parliament felt that Moi Day should no longer be recognized as a national holiday, they could have easily altered the Act to reflect this.

    Unless the exemption in section 5 of the Public Holiday Acts applies, Judge Odunga ruled that it was a breach of Kenyans’ rights to be required to “toil on a day the law clearly instructs to be a public holiday.”

    The decision came as a result of a complaint brought by Gregory Nyauchi against the Cabinet Secretaries for the Interior, East Africa Community, Labor, and the Attorney General.

    Justice George Odunga left it up to Parliament and the Interior Cabinet Secretary to decide how the holiday should be observed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the administration did not make a big deal out of Moi Day anyway.

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