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Utamaduni Day public holiday in Kenya -October 10th

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Utamaduni Day is a public holiday in Kenya observed on October 10th each year.

The day has been set aside to celebrate the country’s rich cultural diversity and heritage. Previously it was celebrated to honour Daniel Arap Moi, who was the former president of Kenya. Until 2020, this holiday was called Moi Day. It was renamed Huduma Day, and then Utamaduni Day in December 2020. Day 2021 will be on Sunday, 10 October hence the Public holiday date will be Monday, 11 October 2021.

According to a statement from the President’s Strategic Communication Unit, the renaming of the national holiday is in line with former President Daniel Arap Moi’s desire that the day should be commemorated as a day of service and volunteerism.

The day will be observed through national prayers that will highlight service and volunteerism to the community. Kenyans are encouraged to participate in the prayers and promote national unity, social justice, cohesion and sustainable development in their communities for the benefit of present and future generations. 

History of Utamaduni Day

Daniel Arap Moi was the second president of Kenya and the country’s longest-serving head of state, ruling from 1973 – 2002.

Moi Day is celebrated on October 10th to mark his coming to power after the death in August 1978 of founding president Jomo Kenyatta.

Moi died on February 4th 2020, at the age of 95.

Moi Day was removed from the list of Kenya national holidays following the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya in August 2010. 

However, it was reinstated in 2017 following a court ruling by the Supreme court, which reversed the decision of the parliament. Justice George Odunga said the 2010  nullification of Moi Day was a contravention of Public Holidays Act.

Justice Odunga noted that if parliament was of the view that Moi Day ought not to continue being considered as a public holiday, they should have amended the Act accordingly.

“I declare that unless and until Parliament amends Schedule 1 of the said Act or the minister substitutes the same for another date, the 10th of October in each year shall continue being a Public Holiday.”

Judge Odunga said Parliament had been wrong for not making amendments and forcing Kenyans to “toil on a day the law expressly directs to be a public holiday amounts to a violation of their rights unless the exception in section 5 of the Public Holiday Acts applies”.

The ruling followed a case which was filed by Gregory Nyauchi against the Cabinet Secretaries for Interior, East Africa Community, Labour, and the Attorney General.

The University of Nairobi’s School of Law graduate said he was motivated to go to court to make a point that all Kenyans are equal before the law. 

“This was a case no other lawyer had done. So I invested my time to do some legal research and paid Sh10,000 (about $98) as court filing fees. I wasn’t sure it could come to this,” said Mr Nyauchi, who joined the bar in 2015.

Justice George Odunga did not specify how the holiday should be celebrated leaving the matter to Parliament and the Interior Cabinet Secretary. Not surprisingly Moi Day was observed in 2018 without much government fanfare.

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