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From the first day, it was proposed as a public holiday, October 10 TH was destined to always be a
controversial day in Kenya.
Although the Kenyan government had officially renamed the day utamaduni; day from its rather
more meaningful full &;huduma& day in 2020 global calendars are yet to be updated to reflect this new
The story of how things got untidy for October 10th goes back to the days when in Kenyan history
rulers were in the habit of instituting special days to remember their legacies, and as it happened this
day marked the ascending to power by the second president of Kenya the late Mzee Daniel Torotich
Arap Moi, and as such he had to set aside this day to remember his legacy, and thus Moi Day was
inked into the countries executive orders and later on the constitution.
In 2010 When the Kenyan constitution got amended by popular demand and officially enacted. Moi
Day was the first victim of mass dissatisfaction, given that the day reminded many of the infamous
one-man party rule, however since its removal had legal implications a landmark judicial judgment by
Kenya’s Supreme Court in 2017, advised and ruled that Instead of removing the holiday from the
Kenyan calendar, it should be renamed and given a new significance.
So in a rushed attempt to be constitutionally correct the then Government of President Uhuru
Kenyatta renamed the defunct Moi Day, Huduma Day a term refereeing to service in the native
Swahili Language in an attempt to reflect the holiday’s new spirit, and from the October 10 th has been
honoured in Kenya as Huduma Day since it was reintroduced in 2017.
After Nine years of the 10 th of October existing as Huduma Day, the Controversial Handshake that
ushered in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), needed to have something memorable and December
26 was set aside for Utamaduni day to cement BBI's importance.
Unfortunately, the architects of this scheme were unaware that according to global laws, an
internationally recognized holiday could not be renamed by a specific country, and as such a day had
to be found and the low-hanging 10 th of October was up for grabs again and a such the Handshake
Government of BBI then re-arranged the Kenya National Holidays slots to have Utamaduni Day fall
on October 10 and erased Huduma Day from its calendar.
So despite the 10th of October being re-instated as Utamaduni Day the state did not give a way
forward on how it would be celebrated and as such Kenyans are left to be creative and create
communal activities to mark Utamaduni Day, further deepening the controversy around this day.
So how does utamaduni day resonate with South Sudanese Kenyan refugees?
In a recent UNHCR African Refugee situational report, Kenya is now the second biggest refugee-
hosting country in Africa after Ethiopia. And the majority of these refugees are from the
Neighbouring country of Somalia (53.7%) and South Sudan (24.7%).
Given that Utamaduni is a Swahili word for Culture and extension utamaduni day being a day to
celebrate culture in Kenya, refugees communities who bring with them diverse cultural heritages that
become a part of the wider host country cultures would at least on this day also get embraced in the
cultural festivals.
However given that Kenya is one of the countries that practice the callous refugee encampment
policy, these refugees by law are congregated together in refugee camps with very few who can
survive on their own precariously residing in urban centers.

As the Second largest refugees populations in Kenya with over 30 years of protracted stay and making
up 24.7% of the total refuge population, South Sudanese refugees in Kenya have defied the
encampment policy and consequently seen a huge number of this population settling in the urban
areas, many usually co-live with other non-refugees family members who might reside in urban areas
as south Sudanese immigrants in Kenya.
Recent UNHCR Urban Refugee statistics show that Eldoret alone has 2,746, refugees while Nairobi,
Mombasa, and Nakuru  collectively have 88,88
Local South Sudanese community estimate shows the top three Urban areas with the largest number
of South Sudanese populations to being Nakuru, Eldoret, and Nairobi, in that Order, Eldoret having
the second largest South Sudanese population in Kenya has seen the community making a lot of local
headlines with some being positive and other not so positive.
To cater to these large urban refugees populations the Kenya Department of refugee services which
previously had Nairobi & Mombasa centers, established additional Urban Reception Centres in
Nakuru and Eldoret, with the Eldoret field office being mainly a subsidiary of the main Kakuma Field

So in Eldoret whenever October 10 th arrives for the South Sudanese refugee populations instead of
showcasing their rich cultural heritage and joining the festivities with their Kenya brothers, this day is
marked in silence as a reminder of how difficult life as a refugee can be especially when the
authorities mandated to fight and protect your rights as a forcefully displaced person are the same
individuals violating these.

The great Silence on the 10 th of October from the Department of refugees Services.
On their website, the ministry of interior & coordination of national government state department for interior and citizen services, department of refugee services, retraces their origins back to the colonial
eras when after independence a Secretariat was set up by the Government under the Ministry of Home
Affairs to handle refugee registration, documentation, and settlement programs.
As one of their constitutional mandates the Department of refugees services is empowered under
Section 8 of the Refugee Act 2021 to '' initiate, in collaboration with the development partners,

projects that promote peaceful and harmonious co-existence between the host communities and
refugees; Given that sharing of cultural heritages has been known as the best way diverse
communities can understand their diversity and form stronger harmonious bonds of unity and peace
for better co-existence, it thus becomes surprising to note that instead of vigorously organizing on the
10 th of October to be a day where refugees populations all over the country should showcase their
cultures and celebrate the diverse cultural heritage Kenya has with their refugee populations the
department chooses to remain silent.


The failed  Eldoret Department of refugees Services.













Given the favorable geographical positioning of Eldoret, with its being a central locality with most
refugees entry points in Kenya and the fact that it had over the year become home to a sizeable South
Sudanese Urban refugees population, Eldoret was picked to host one of the Department of refugees
Services field offices.
Instead of this turning out to be a blessing for the local refugee populations as services would be
brought closer to them the Eldoret Department of refugees Services field offices has proved a
nightmare for many starting from the very basic inability to locate and find it, to the overall
breakdown of service delivery

The invisible Department of refugees Services.



















When one is a new refugee in need of services rendered by the Department of refugees Services in
the Eldoret field office, then your woes start from the initial struggles of first locating the physical
location of these premises. The office has developed a reputation of being known as the invisible
department, apart from there being non-existing directions to where the actual offices are located, the
offices by design were tucked away into the last room of the last building in a very complicated
unmarked immigration compound complex, finding the department then becomes an act of
rudimentary topographical positioning, involving asking strangers of the whereabouts of an office
they might have never known exists.

We are not here for you Department of refugees Services.

When by some miracle you finally get to locate the offices you will be met by stern-faced officers
whose physical and emotional language tells you that they are not happy to be there and your presence
is another painfully transaction to be suffered, when you get brave enough to ask what you are after
from the first desk that is always manned by an official who unprofessionally at best days when not
drunk and confused is red-eyed and reeks of cheap alcohol, making you wonder if it’s the Kenyan
culture to be drunk at work or is it only reserved for refugees survives, next to him is a never reducing
the mountain of uncollected refugees identity cards another worrying sign that the owners might be
suffering unimaginable turmoils of not owning the very important sacred refugees documents.
The Nightmare Department of refugees Services for refugee students.

After going through the initial screening questions and humiliating procedures where no single officer
ever seems to be aware of what exactly they should be doing and how they should be doing it, the
very dreaded question that every student fears is asked of whether you have ever applied for any alien
ID before, naturally, without knowing that it’s a trick question, many especially tertiary level students
would say no, not knowing that the very mandatory student Alien ID issues for you to apply for
admissions are in their books considered a valid Alien ID that will result in the rejection of your
refugees status determination.

Now for those unfortunate students who might have applied for this unholy student Alien ID the
beginning of their nightmares that usually spans up to five years of being sent back and forth with no
clear explanations or instructions on how to end the cycle begins.
Finally, when one is at the end of their wits and hasn’t given up on applying for a refugee Alien ID
the poor fellow is then told to by some miracle make it to Nairobi without any traveling documents or
assistance and locate the Ministry of Interior, where they will apply for a session request to be
removed from the same system where they will be re-entered in afresh as refugees status, something
that would have not taken them an hour of a simple phone call, but brought unimaginable
psychological as well as the financial toll on the unfortunate refugee student who apart from battling
with the horrors of being a refugee in a foreign country, suffers untold torment and damage in the
hands of those expected to protect and service them.

So when in Kenya and another 10 th of October comes with the usual government call for activities that
encourage community development, highlighting the benefits of cultural cohesive sustainable
development, from the usual state-wide prayer services to community cultural development projects
that showcase the diverse cultural practices of the Kenyan communities, make it a humanitarian
statement to find it in your hearts to remember that refugees communities are important social entities
in any host communities and that their cultural heritages if well celebrated can be a positive addition
to host countries social developments as well as build better more cohesive communities.


South Sudan peace activist condemns attack on Abyei, urges talk on final status of disputed territory