The people of Kenya moved somberly but peacefully yesterday through the first full day this young nation has known without the revered leader who built it, Jomo Kenyatta.

Kenya thus presented a sharp contrast to the emotional outbursts and political tensions that have followed the deaths of some other leaders in the emerging countries of Africa and the Middle East.

Though Kenyatta leaves a void that no other Kenyan can fill and the succession is in doubt - largely because discussion of it was illegal while he was alive - the country was reported completely calm as an official 30-day period of mourning began and preparations were made for his funeral, probably next week.

"We are not an emotional people," a government official said in a typical comment. "The people are grieving for the president but we will stay calm as long as the constitution is observed."

Kenyatta, once denounced as the leader of the feared Mau Mau guerrillas, but who became one of Africa's most respected elder statesmen after Kenyan independence in 1963, died Tuesday.

His body lay yesterday on a table in a flower-bedecked room of the official state residence in a guarded park on a hill overlooking Nairobi, seen only by government officials, the diplomatic corps and the press. The public is to be admitted beginning today, the government announced, and Kenyatta will lie in state until well into next week.

Only a handful of Kenyans gathered at the gate yesterday. On the streets of the capital below, life was closse to normal as the first shock of Kenyatta's death wore off.

The government has ordered the cancelation of public meetings during the period of mourning and has ordered nightclubs and movies closed, but urged other Kenyans to go to work as usual. Shops, offices and cafes were open, public services functioned normally and crowds of tourists went about their sightseeing.

The country's political, religious and tribal leaders, newspaper editorial writers and officials of fraternal and sporting clubs mixed their tributes to Kenyatta with exhortations to the people to honor his memory by staying calm, working hard and respecting the constitutional process of succession. To all appearance most Kenyans were doing just that.

Experienced observers here said Kenyans have a sense that they are facing a test not just of their own country but of post-colonial black Africa, a test of whether their relative prosperity and well-defined political institutions can guarantee an orderly transition instead of upheaval.

"It is our sincere hope that in this time of national mourning and grief our leaders will forge a brand of unity fueled by the memory of this great man who quite literally gave his life for his country and people, a man who will expect of all Kenyans the same sense of deep patriotism and national togetherness which inspired his own career," the newspaper Daily Nation said. "Let us all tread the path of constitutionality that he set out for us."

The Voice of Kenya radio broadcast throughout the day comments from scores of prominent Kenyans carrying roughly the same message.

The cabinet met under interim President Daniel arap Moi to discuss details of Kenyatta's state funeral. No date was announced, but unofficial sources said it was likely to be Aug. 31.

The meeting took place amid appeals from all sides to support arap Moi in the three months between now and the time a new president is to be selected. He is himself the leading candidate but there are expected to be others.

Meanwhile, he is in charge and there was no sign that any individual or faction would move outside the constitutional process to attempt to seize power. The only troops to be seen were those guarding Kenyatta's body and government officials scoffed at any notion that Kenya's armed forces might be tempted to intervene.