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10 ways to celebrate Madaraka Day during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Every year on 1 June, the country commemorates the day that it attained self rule. It has been the tradition where the president leads the celebrations culminating in a national address at a jam-packed televised event full of entertainment from musicians and comedians. This is followed by an official procession and parade by members of the disciplined forces. With the emergence of COVID-19, the national holidays are now being celebrated in invite-only events where Kenyans follow the proceedings virtually and on national television and radio broadcasts. To enrich the historical content about Kenya’s past, Google Arts and Culture App presents all information about museums in Kenya together with images of preserved artefacts in 3D as well as videos. Here are 10 ways to light up your Madaraka Day this year from the comfort of your home that includes ten facts you didn’t know about Kenya’s wildlife sanctuaries:

1. Learn about Kenya’s superheroes from your community and beyond

The National Museums of Kenya, in partnership with Google Arts and Culture and Shujaa Stories, have committed to carrying on the legacy of Kenyan historical heroes. The online exhibition titled ‘Mashujaa Wetu: Meet Kenya’s Superheroes’, features stories of 61 remarkable Kenyan icons who fought for their communities’ land, freedom and spiritual well-being. It has brought together over 10,500 never-before seen high-resolution photographs, 130-expert curated exhibits, 4 expeditions, and 60 Google Street views of 16 sites. Each of the 44 communities has a superhero whose story is featured in the exhibition. Search trends show that Mekatilili wa Menza, Luanda Magere, and Queen Amanirenas are the most searched superheroes via the Google Arts and Culture App.

2. Take a virtual tour to Kenya’s museums and galleries

Restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic have hit hard museums and art galleries all over the world as visitors stay home. However, digital technology is offering a solution through virtual tours. Google Arts and Culture has over 2,500 museums on its platform, including the Nairobi National Museum which was built in 1929 and is home to the oldest known human fossil, Turkana boy, who is estimated to be 1.6 million years old. The app also features some of Kenya’s famous archaeological discoveries and collections, East African birds and mammals, and a selection of contemporary art. As you celebrate this year’s Madaraka Day, you can explore Kenya’s cultural and natural heritage preserved by The National Museums of Kenya by touring the 10 Unforgettable Museums and Sites in Kenya including Nairobi Gallery from the comfort of your couch.

3. Know your community

The National Museums of Kenya holds objects telling the stories of the communities, which represent the country’s ethnic diversity and vibrant cultures. Many of the cultural practices are still embraced today, but have been influenced by the changes in society. This holiday, take time to learn about your community. Each individual community has clans and subclans which have been extensively captured on the ‘Find your ukoo‘ section. Through the exhibition, audiences have an opportunity to explore how Kenya’s communities have enriched the country through social, economic, political, and cultural activities, each with their own unique stories. You can celebrate the intangible cultural heritage of all communities including the Ogiek, Pokomo, and Somali.

4. Discover the language families of Kenya

The history of the diverse people of Kenya goes beyond the memories of the living. It begins when the communities concerned emerged as, and perceived themselves to be, distinct ethnic groups. Each of these groups belong to one of three different language families. Kenyan languages have been classified into three groups: Cushitic, Nilotic and Bantu. The Cushitic is part of the Afro-Asiatic family, the Nilotic is part of the Nilo-Saharan family, and the Bantu of the Nigerkordofan family. Through Google Arts and Culture, users can discover the history of the three groups.

5. Find out which Kenyan superhero you are

Curious to know which Kenyan superhero you would be? Go to the Google Arts and Culture app and take a quiz to find out what your individual characters reveal which superhero or heroine you resemble. You only need to follow the questions and pick on the answers that you think best suits you.

6. Explore Kenya’s spectacular National Parks

Kenya is a revered home for wildlife sanctuaries, coastal beaches and geographical as well as prehistoric sites that are world famous. Tsavo West, for example, has over 600 species of birds and offers some of the best game watching opportunities. Discover more about some of Kenya’s spectacular National Parks through these 10 facts found on the Google Arts and Culture app.

7. Visit Kenya’s 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Kenya holds 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites – making it second only to South Africa (which has 10) in terms of listed sites in an African country. You can explore these memorable sites which reflect the universal value of Kenya’s spectacular beauty, culture and natural diversity.

8. Take a virtual tour to Kenya’s first courtroom

The current Nyeri Museum was once used as a ‘Native law court’ whose main objective was to deal with customary cases. During this Madaraka Day, you can tour the exhibition of the first law court highlighting the milestones of the country from pre-independence to the present day. You will see photographs showcasing some of the key people and moments in the history of Kenya.

9. Learn about the incredible vessels used by Kenyan communities

Containers are one of the five items classified as critical in conveying material culture alongside tools, ornaments, body carvings and furniture. Before metallic containers reached Kenya’s shores, local communities developed containers to satisfy the need to cook, carry and store foodstuffs in solid or liquid form. Container designs, shapes and materials reflect the many ways in which the different Kenyan communities kept, carried and stored things. The shapes of containers were determined by what they stored and the materials used to make them. Containers were also used for religious functions, divination and ceremonial functions. You can learn more about the various traditional containers used by Kenyan communities through the exhibit in the Google Arts and Culture app.

10. Discover Kenya’s Birthplace

Step inside Kenya’s largest Memorial Park, Uhuru Gardens, and learn about its iconic monuments. The gardens were officially declared a National Monument in 1966 because of their historical importance. Within the gardens are a Mugumo (fig) tree and two monuments commemorating Kenya’s independence. The fig tree was planted on the spot where the Union Jack (British flag) was brought down and Kenya’s national flag was first hoisted


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