Kenya at 50: What exactly does Attaining self rule ”Madaraka” Mean to you?

Posted: June 1, 2013 in Politics/Current issues



By Nixon Kanali

1 June, commemorates the day that Kenya attained internal self-rule in 1963, preceding full independence from the United Kingdom on 12 December 1963, what came to be know as Madaraka Day. 

The country has made great strides since gaining independence over  the past 50 years that has seen  governments come and go, Kenyans have witnessed many historic trials, we have had a few tribal clashes but we have also had a lot of good things happen and this is what Kenyans should be celebrating as they mark this day.



This will be the first Madaraka day under President Uhuru’s government.

According to, The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (adopted 14th December, 1960) says the following about the importance of Independence;
The General Assembly,
Mindful of the determination proclaimed by the peoples of the world in the Charter of the United Nations to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Convinced that all peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory….”
The Preamble to the Constitution of Kenya 2010 says;
We the people of Kenya –
Honouring those who heroically struggled to bring freedom and justice to our land:
Exercising our sovereign and inalienable right to determine the form of governance of our country and having participated fully in the making of this constitution….”
Article 10 of the Constitution then goes on to list national values and principles of governance that have to be adhered to.
The reason for elaborately outlining provisions that eventually led to Kenya’s attainment of self rule and subsequently her independence on the one hand, and constitutional provisions reaffirming the need to protect this status that was attained at great cost on the other, is to enable us reflect on how far we have come since then.
As Kenya commemorates Madaraka Day today – the attainment of self rule – it would be good to look back at what this means as opposed to being under the yoke of coercive colonial rule. It is also imperative to examine some of the actions that we have taken as a nation that may be a total contradiction to what it means to attain and commemorate madaraka.
In my opinion, the attainment of self rule has both an external and internal meaning. An external one would portend that the ability to make important decisions on the direction a country and a people should be devoid of any external influence or pressure. It would further mean any decisions concerning how a nation and a people hope to live together and build themselves will not be done from a sort of satellite position merely communicated to the people on the ground.

Internally would mean that the nation and its people actively participate in decisions concerning them and further have a voice when those that govern seem to be going contrary to their aspirations. It means recognition of the peoples’ sovereign power – having the final collective say on decisions affecting them.  

Check this blog to read on what Attaining self rule exactly means 



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