Kenya made history on Monday after marking Madaraka day celebrations in a unique way.
For the first time the event was not marked in a Stadium or public place allowing Kenyans to stream in and watch celebrations and hear the president’s speech. As a public holiday, it would have been a time for merry-making for some families and a time to reflect on the achievements since June 1, 1963 when founding President Jomo Kenyatta became the first prime minister.
This year’s celebrations were however marked at State House led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and for the first time Kenyans could only watch the celebrations on TV or tune in to their radios.
The COVID-19 has seen several directives put in place to curb the spread and as such, this year’s Madaraka day celebrations only gave chance to a list of invite only guests who sat at a 1 meter distance from each other.
During the celebrations, first lady Margaret Kenyatta and DP William Ruto’s wife Rachel Ruto only followed the Madaraka Day celebrations from one of State House’s balconies and not the dais. This was in a bid to ensure social distancing at the venue.
Even traders who make a killing during the day selling special commemorative artifacts to hundreds of people thronging celebration venues have counted losses due to the ban on gatherings.
Back in 2015, President Kenyatta changed the format of celebrating the three national holidays – Madaraka Day, Mashujaa Day and Jamhuri Day – and ordered that the events be hosted on a rotational basis by counties outside Nairobi. Because of the novel Coronavirus however, the celebrations could only be held at statehouse with a limited number of attendees.
Speaking to Ghetto Radio, Kenyans expressed how the holiday’s effect have not been felt this year because many people are home because of the virus.
“This year we don’t even feel the impact of Madaraka day, this is because many of us are home trying to curb the spread of coronavirus. Some of us don’t even know where our next meal will come from so it is hard to sit down to watch the president’s speech when all you want to do is go out and look for food.” said one concerned Kenyan