Today’s celebrations come at a time the country is grappling with hardships brought about by the pandemic, including a health workers strike, crippling economy and public debt.
“The beneficiaries of independence are our children, not our leaders,” said Charles Kabiru, a jua kali artisan at Bama in Nakuru Town East constituency on this day.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to come up with a concrete plan on how the government will protect children from Covid-19 when schools reopen.
“We have seen what happened to doctors, nurses and clinical officers who are frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19. They have failed in protecting them, it needs to protect our children,” he posed.
Under normal circumstances, families would go for outings after attending the various fetes across the country and entertainment joints would be full with enthusiastic revelers.
Still, it will be a time to recall the independence struggle with nostalgia.
“In spite of the pandemic, we need to reflect on this day and ask ourselves if truly we have real independence, and the peace and prosperity meant to accompany it, which has remained elusive,” says former Subukia MP Koigi Wa Wamwere.
But Gitile Naituli, a don at Multimedia University, said this year’s holiday does not reflect the independence optimism Kenyans had before.
“Our ‘independence’ supersedes reality. It is characterised by exploitation, hopelessness, mental slavery and lack of opportunity. Independence should offer freedom and equal opportunity to all,” Naituli said.
It will be a Jamuhuri Day like no other. No large crowds packing the stands at Nyayo National Stadium, or other venues across the country, waiting for government officials to read the president’s speech.
Instead, only 5,000 people will be allowed into the Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, against a sitting capacity of 35,000, to ensure social distancing in keeping with Covid-19 protocols. The usual pomp and pageantry associated with the day will be replaced by a hybrid of virtual and physical celebrations as the country marks 57 years since it became a republic.