Jamhuri Day: Origin of the Presidential Flag

  • The presentation of Presidential and Regimental Colours to 17 Battalion on December 12, 2018 during the Jamhuri Day celebrations.
    The presentation of Presidential and Regimental Colours to 17 Battalion on December 12, 2018 during the Jamhuri Day celebrations.
    KDF / Twitter
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta is leading the country in marking the 58th Jamhuri Day celebrations on Sunday, December 12 at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi.

    During the celebrations, the Head-of State presents the colours (Presidential and Regimental Colours) to the battalions. Further, the military performs a National Ceremony in which the Commander-in-Chief is honoured with the Guard of Honour (GOH).

    The colours which are a staple during the Jamhuri celebrations- symbolize the day the country became a republic. 

    The presentation of Presidential Colour to 1 Battalion, the Kenya Rifles, by former President Jomo Kenyatta on 12th December 1964.
    The presentation of Presidential Colour to 1 Battalion, the Kenya Rifles, by former President Jomo Kenyatta on 12th December 1964.
    KDF / Twitter

    History

    The practice dates back to the 1660s when the ceremony was performed first during the reign of King Charles II. A century later, the parade was decreed to be used to mark the official birthday of the Sovereign and it became an annual events after King George III took up the throne in 1760.

    Kenya, after becoming a colony of the British, embraced the tradition by association. On the day Kenya gained independence in 1963, the ritual was not abandoned but rather included by the Trooping of the Presidential and Regimental Colours.

    Symbol

    The Colours symbolize the spirit of the Regiment as they bear the battle honours and badges granted to the Regiment in commemoration of sacrifice and deeds performed by the troops. The colours are the highest honour of any Regiment/Unit hence a loss of the colour would lead to disbandment of the military unit. 

    Both the Presidential and Regimental Colours are handled with utmost respect and are saluted as a sign of respect whenever one gets into close proximity to them as they represent the honour accorded to the Unit.

    It's for this reason that those in attendance are asked to stand and those in the Uniformed Forces salute whenever the Colours pass by.

    Both Colours are each carried by a commissioned Officer and escorted by two Senior Non Commissioned Officers (SNCOs).

    Trooping of the Colours

    Trooping of the Colours is done in two occasions by infantry Units, Air Force bases or Naval bases. The first occasion is when both Presidential and Regimental Colours are handed over to a Unit for the first time- a process known as Consecration and Presentation of Colours whereby they are presented to the Battalion.

    The Unit Quarter Master and Regimental Quartermaster escorted by SNCOs lay the colours before they are anointed by religious leaders.

    Afterwards, the colours are presented to the Colours Officers by the Commander-in-Chief and thereafter they are showcased.

    The second occasion is whereby only the Presidential Colour is involved. An Infantry Unit, Air Force base or Naval base is tasked to conduct presentation of the Presidential flag. 

    The Colours are kept under lock and key and only accessed occasionally for ceremonial displays.

    Uhuru Gardens set up for Jamhuri Day on Saturday, December 11, 2021.
    Uhuru Gardens set up for Jamhuri Day on Saturday, December 11, 2021.
    Courtesy Ministry of Interior