Mashujaa Day, also known as Heroes’ Day (“mashujaa” is Kiswahili for heroes) is a national day in Kenya. It is observed on 20 October as a public holiday to collectively honour all those who contributed towards the struggle for Kenya’s independence or positively contributed in post-independence Kenya.
The day was previously known as Kenyatta Day, which was celebrated to commemorate the detention in Kapenguria of freedom fighters Achieng’ Oneko, Bildad Kaggia, Fred Kubai, Jomo Kenyatta, Kung’u Karumba and Paul Ngei, often referred to as the Kapenguria Six.
These independence movement leaders were arrested by the British colonial government on October 20, 1952. They were accused of holding membership in the revolutionary Mau Mau Society. Their arrest was considered such an important moment in the struggle for freedom from foreign rule that October 20th became a national holiday.
However, following the adoption of the new Constitution of Kenya in 2010, Kenyatta Day was renamed and the focus of the day widened to include all those who contributed to the independence of Kenya.
Previously, Mashujaa Day was typically celebrated with an event at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi. This has since changed and now different Counties host rotating celebrations at their local stadiums.
It used to be that if October 20 lands on a weekend, the holiday is moved to the following Monday so people still get a day off; but that practice now seems to depend on the government of the day.
Public Holidays Kenya