14 December 2013

Kenya celebrates 50 years of independence!

Kenyan African Union leader Jomo Kenyatta with the official document of independence in Nairobi on December 13, 1963

On a warm December evening 50 years ago, a new independent nation was born in Africa. For 68 years, Kenya had been governed by the United Kingdom. But on December 12, 1963, thousands of Kenyans and numerous world leaders gathered for an independence ceremony at Uhuru Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya. The word 'uhuru' means freedom in Swahili, the national language of Kenya. At midnight, the British flag was lowered ending colonial rule. In its place, the black, red, and green flag of Kenya was raised. Jomo Kenyatta, a long-time leader in the struggle for Kenyan independence, was the new nation’s prime minister.
“Our march to freedom has been long and difficult. There have been times of despair, when only the burning conviction of the rightness of our cause has sustained us. Today, the tragedies and misunderstandings of the past are behind us. Today, we start on the great adventure of building the Kenyan nation.”  - Jomo Kenyatta

Monument at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi

Many wananchi (citizens) attended a midnight reenactment of the first flag-raising 50 years ago, complete with fireworks.

A ceremony was held at Kasarani Stadium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jamhuri, Kenya's independence day

Dignitaries, including many African presidents, attended the ceremony.

Current president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta (son of Kenya's first president)

Excerpt from President Uhuru Kenyatta's speech:

"Today marks an historic, momentous, and glorious day for our country, Kenya. It is with joy and pride that we celebrate 23 years of independence. Fifty years ago, on December 12, 1963 a new and hopeful nation, Kenya, was born with unlimited potential. We were now a free and sovereign people, and we began the journey of determining our own political, economic, and social destiny.

"Our struggle for independence, which had gone on for many years, had finally borne fruit. But this independence did not come cheap. It was won by the brave, selfless, and visionary men and women who were willing to sacrifice even their own lives for the love of their country. This they did, to guarantee that their children and children's children would be free, living with dignity.

"The freedom we enjoy today was earned by the blood of patriots and their sacrifices much never be in vain. As we recognize the important role they played in our nation's history, we must remember that the greatest honor we can give them is to live by the high ideals they envisioned for Kenya. Their passionate dreams for an equitable, free, and just Kenya must be our driving force today and in the years to come."

Traditional dancers from Burundi

Traditional dancers from Rwanda

Traditional dancers from Kenya

Traditional dancers from Kenya

Traditional headdress of hippo tusks

An added bonus for the day was when Kenya's football (soccer) team - the Harambee Stars - won the 2013 Cecafa Cup, by beating Sudan 2-0!

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