Interpretation

 

Jamhuri Day is a time of celebration and a time for Kenyan families and citizens to come together to celebrate one thing that all Kenyans have in common, their Independent country. Fulfilling its purpose, Jamhuri Day helps all Kenyans to find a common ground and unifies Kenyans in with a universal tool that they all can relate to regardless of religion, ethnicity, social class, or language. The reason behind Jamhuri Day being a time for Kenyans to come together can be rooted in the idea that they don't have much else to relay on, and on the idea that there was a time when they were not free to jus be together in families. The death of so many Kenyans can be a reason for their belief in a tight-knit family, because they simply need each other to make it through. It is not an understatement to believe that by making Jamhuri Day celebrations a public thing, Kenyans are bringing everyone together, because once again without many possessions, each other is all they can rely on. As celebrations are known is a tool to bring people together, usually using some type of common religion, they help people to relax and enjoy the things that they have in common.

“To celebrate is to perform ritual publicly and formally, though sometimes “the public” may consist of no more than members of a single family” (Turner 201). This refers mostly to religious rituals or celebrations, but it can be applied to the Kenyan National Holiday. The entire Kenyan Nation through parades, speech by the president, dances, fireworks, air show, and sometimes bungee jumping celebrates Jamhuri Day. However, Jamhuri Day is celebrated on a personal level only with the small families feasting and enjoying being together. In this sense, “Jamhuri Day”, is private opposed to its public known purposes. This may be a way of the Kenyan people to come together, inside and outside of the home to unite their country.

  Jamhuri Day is like the “Fourth of July” to Americans. At this time we feel patriotic and proud to be a part of the nation that we live in. It is at this time that we forget about all races and other differences and enjoy being Americans, as does the Kenyans on their Independence Day. Since Jamhuri Day is a National holiday, it does not carry any specific religious ties. The reasoning behind the lack of religious involvement could be to alleviate any possible discrepancies about religion, because there are more than four different religions in Kenya . If it were National practice to celebrate Jamhuri Day based on one religion, it is very likely that the people of the other religions would be offended, thus disputing the purpose of the holiday to unify. The only religious connections that are used on Jamhuri Day are the signing of their National Anthem, which starts with, “Ee Mungu nguvu yetu, Ilete Baraka Kwetu” which translates, “O God of all creation, Bless this land and nation ( http://www.allthingskenyan.com/parade.html ). The usage of the name “God” means that there is a belief in a higher power, someone who has created all of the land. The mention of God in their song merely identifies that all Kenyans believe in a higher power, but the usage cannot be linked with any religion.

  The social structure of Kenya is highly visible in the celebration of Jamhuri Day, in the parade and the presidential speech. In the parades through the provinces, people dress up as they would for work showing their different occupations. This is a tradition done by the Kenyans, showing that Kenyans can all come together regardless of their occupations, and celebrate their nation. When farther examined, however, it is very possible that this practice is expressing class among the Kenyan people, which would segregate the Kenyan people by showing the differences of work. The parades are fun, but show that no culture will always unify without the intervention of some sort of way of categorizing its members. However, Kenyans are known forget about the social structure of the society and celebrate together. When the president of the capital and of all the Provincial Commissioners makes his speech to the capital and sends it to his Provincial Commissioners, he is reinforcing social structure. He is making writing the speech as the head is expected, and delegates the responsibility of ensuring that all Kenyans hear it to other Provincial Commissioners. This tradition is representation of how the Kenyan society is structured. Thus, again showing that no culture can celebrate without a noticeable system of structure. Although, the Kenyans are celebrating together, and outwardly showing that they have forgotten about social structure, structure can never really be eliminated.

  Jamhuri Day is very symbolic of the Kenyan people, in that the activities that are performed symbolize Kenyan values. On Jamhuri Day, Kenyans dance with one another exemplifying dance as a value of their culture. Dancing is an African symbol and very vital to their culture. Kenyans are known as being beautiful dancers with elaborate dress. The dances performed symbolize the beauty of the Kenyan people as the move their bodies freely. Dancing can also symbolize Kenyans ability to express themselves in any way they feel, and thus making it a very important part of Jamhuri Day, which celebrated freedom. Another cultural idea that is expressed through Jamhuri Day is the value of education and knowing ones history. Movies and videos are shown on the day before Jamhuri Day usually by families to educate their children on the history of Jamhuri Day, and Kenyans struggle for independence. (Osganir, personal Interview 2004). History is a cultural value to the Kenyans, and the fact that they take the time out to teach their children about Kenya 's history and heritage shows that they are proud and value their culture.

  One new tradition done on Jamhuri Day that carries much symbolism is the emergence of bungee jumping as a way of celebrating this day. It was not until recently that the Kenyans started with this tradition, but it symbolizes integration of different cultures, and true freedom of all Kenyans. Some people are known to bungee jump from bridges on Jamhuri Day, this shows the influence of other cultures on the Kenyan people. As bungee jumping first started in Penecoste Islands in the South Pacific by people who used vines instead of bungee cord, it can not be said the bungee jumping is truly Kenyan authentic. The use of this practice in their celebration is symbolic of Kenyans modernizing and being influenced by other cultures. When closely examined, it can also be said that bungee jumping is symbolic of the total freedom that Kenyans have, which they gained from Great Britain in 1963, and celebrate each year. Bungee jumping is a form of Communitas for Kenyans. Bungee jumping is a way of getting into the culture and seeing one of Kenyans core values, freedom. This freedom, which is celebrated on Jamhuri Day and symbolized through bungee jumping, is a way for others to access one value in the Kenyan society along with social structure and family. The Kenyans are fully expressing their freedom, and the emergence of other cultures in their culture through this form of celebrating.

  Jamhuri's Day main focus is to unity Kenyans, as does the America 's Independence Day. Kenyans enjoy their culture and their independence, and they show it through dancing, parading, bungee jumping, listening to speeches, eating, and air shows. Another cultural value demonstrated on Jamhuri Day by the Kenyans is their involvement of the military, by using the military in two of their biggest ceremonies Kenyans are showing the respect and admiration that they have for them. Jamhuri Day does not challenge any of Kenya 's culture, but reinforces one big idea that seems to be very prevalent in many cultures, and many Kenyan holidays, unity.

Contact Jim Aimers | ©2004 Miami University