Kenya is a flourish country in terms of natural resources. Due to its natural wealth, many foreign countries have interests on it for a purpose of having investments. But the irony of this scenario is that in spite of the fact of being naturally rich, people are living in poverty and illiteracy. Kenya is presently striving to meet up the demands of this modern world.
This paper intends to study the history, people, geography, economy, and government of Kenya.
Kenya or republic of Kenya is a country in east Africa. Until 1963 it was a British dependency, called Kenya Colony and protectorate. Kenya lies on the Equator along the Indian Ocean and is bordered by Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Including inland water, primarily parts of lakes Victoria and Rudolf, Kenya’s area is 224,960 square miles (582,646 km2). Dimensions are as much as 560 miles (900 km) north-south and 485 miles (780 km) east-west (Kenya. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2004).
Kenya’s recorded history begins with Indonesian and Arab traders, who by the early Middle Ages were visiting the coast to trade. The Kenyans of that era were of the mixed Semito-Hamitic and Negro Stock now known as Nilotic. A great influx of Bantu peoples from the northwest began in the 13th century. The Bantus occupied the most desirable areas, Swahili groups settling on the coast.
Mombasa and Malindi were wealthy centers of Indian Ocean trade when Portuguese explorers reached the east coast of Africa at the end of the 15th century. The Portuguese plundered and destroyed the coastal cities and took control of the trade for the next century. As Portugal’s sea power declined, Arabs helped the Swahilis expel the Portuguese and reestablished themselves as masters of the coast (Donovan, 2006).
In the late 19th century both Germany and Great Britain were building colonial empires in Africa. An agreement with Germany in 1886 permitted Britain to take control in the interior of Kenya; an 1887 agreement with the Arab sultan of Zanzibar gave Britain control of the coastal strip. In 1895, the country was made a British protectorate under the name British East Africa. A railroad from Mombasa to Lake Victoria was competed in 1901, and white colonization of the interior began. In 1920 some territory in the northeast was ceded to Italy. The remaining interior area became the Colony of Kenya; the coastal strip became Kenya Protectorate (Donovan, 2006).
After World War II African nationalism developed rapidly under Kikuyu leadership. A secret terrorist organization, the Mau Mau, was formed to drive the white man from Kenya. From 1952 to 1956, there were many bloody but unsuccessful attempts to expel the British. By 1957, the Mau Mau uprising had been put down. Jomo Kenyatta, accused of being its leader, was imprisoned.
A movement for self-rule was led by Tom Mboya, a Luo, in cooperation with the Kikuyus. A constitution was drawn up in 1962 and self-government was inaugurated. In 1963, the coastal strip was ceded to Kenya by Zanzibar. In the same year, Kenya gained independence, as a dominion in the British Commonwealth, and Kenyatta became prime minister. The country became a republic in 1964 with Kenyatta as president.
Kenyatta and Mboya, his minister of economics, were able to maintain peace among the Kikuyu, Luo, and other groups, but the country’s stability was threatened from another source—a Somalian-supported secessionist movement in the north. It was quelled after four years of guerrilla warfare. Stability was again threatened in 1969, when Mboya was assassinated and a Kikuyu was accused of his murder. For a time, there was serious violence, but eventually the unrest subsided (Kenya. New Standard Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, Pp. 456-457).
Under Kenyatta’s rule, Kenya became the most prosperous nation in East Africa. Kenyatta died in 1978 and was succeeded by Daniel Arap Moi. Falling prices for the country’s two principal exports, coffee and tea, caused a depression during the first years of Moi’s rule, but the economy revived in the mid-1980’s when world prices for these commodities rose.
Virtually all of the people are Africans, members of more than 70 different ethnic groups, predominantly Bantu. The Bantu people live mainly in the coastal region and the southwestern uplands. The Kikuyus, a Bantu people, are the largest group in Kenya’s political and social life. Principal non-Bantu peoples include the Luo and the Turkana in the west, and the Somalis in the east. Among the smaller groups are the Masai, a pastoral people who are use the blood and milk of their cattle as a main food.
The non-African population, which is less than 1 percent, consists mainly of Britons, Arabs, and Asians (Indians and Pakistanis). Many of the British hold government positions or have managerial jobs in the manufacturing, banking, and communications industries. The Asians own a large percentage of the small businesses. The number of Africans involved in commerce and government has been slowly increasing (Kenya. New Standard Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, Pp. 456-457).
· Language and Religion
The official languages are English and Swahili, the commercial tongue of all East Africa. The various ethnic groups have their own languages. The majority of the people adhere to Christianity. About 20 percent are animists, and a small minority, less than 10 percent, are Moslems.
The government maintains or assists in supporting primary and secondary schools. However, school attendance is not compulsory and less than half the population is literate. Higher education is available at the university in Nairobi and at technical institutes and teacher-training schools (Kenya. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2004).
· Vegetation and Wild animals
Kenya is primarily a grassland, consisting of savannas and steppes. The savannas are generally tall-grass areas with small, thorny trees growing singly or in patches. The steppes, which receive less rain, usually lack and often have only a scant covering of grass. Forests are found mainly in scattered localities along the coast and in the loftier, more humid parts of the highlands. Few of the forests form dense growths.
Kenya is richly endowed with animal life. Big game, including elephants, rhinoceroses, lions, giraffes, zebras, and wildebeests, are among the more notable animals. There is also abundance of small mammals (Donovan, 2006).
B. Food and Clothing
Kenya has varieties of foods since they have different regions. There is no particular food that represents Kenya but ugali and nyama chuma are eaten by most Kenyans.
Kenya is trying to have a national dress that will represent the people’s culture and customs. However, Kenyans normally wear kanga which is a piece of cloth.
D. Values and Laws
Kenya’s mission is to have just and simple laws that can be easily followed by the citizens. Its law prioritizes every Kenyan and always looks for their welfare. They do not have any under the table activities since these people are all in need.
E. Social Custom
Kenyans are “naïve” in a way that they are not exposed on the things which the industrialized countries have. They do meet with people but are aloft to mingle especially if these are foreign who happen to visit their place. They are hospitable to some degree and are brave enough to face difficulties.
Kenya’s economy has improved steadily since the country gained independence in 1963. In many respects Kenya is the most prosperous country in East Africa. By most Western standards, however, Kenya is still a relatively poor country. It is heavily dependent on farming and lacks the money, mineral resources, skilled workers, and professional persons required to build a modern society rapidly. By carefully planning the economy, however, and by promoting free enterprise, the Kenyan government is attempting to improve conditions as quickly as possible. The greatest emphasis is placed on improving farming and establishing manufacturing industries (Schatzberg, 2005).
The great majority of the people derive their livelihood from farming and herding, which have long been mainstays of the economy. The chief farming areas are in the highlands, around Lake Victoria, and along the coast. Because of the scant rainfall, most of the country can be used for little but grazing.
The main food crops are corn, cassava, and sweet potatoes. Coffee and tea are the chief commercial crops and agricultural exports. Cattle are the most numerous farm animals; next are goats and sheep. Camels are herded in the drier parts of the country (Schatzberg, 2005).
Manufacturing was established shortly after World War II to process agricultural products for export. The industry has since expanded, and numerous small-scale plants now make food products, beverages, tobacco, wood, and paper products, textiles, clothing, shoes and other consumer goods. Kenya also produces machinery, trucks and automobiles, chemicals, and petroleum products. Most of the manufactured goods are for local use, but some are marketed elsewhere in East Africa. Nairobi and, to a lesser extent, Mombasa and the making of cement, Kenya has few heavy industries (Schatzberg, 2005).
Kenya’s abundant wildlife is a major tourist attraction, earning large amounts of foreign exchange. Safaris, most of which originate in Nairobi, are conducted for sightseers and photographers.
Railways are the chief means of transport in Kenya. The railway system consists primarily of a main line from Mombasa, through Nairobi, into Uganda. Few of Kenya’s roads are paved. Mombasa is the chief port of East Africa, serving all of Kenya and some foreign areas. Kisumu handles freight and passenger service of Lake Victoria. The center of domestic and international air service is the modern airport at Nairobi (Schatzberg, 2005).
Under the constitution 1969, Kenya is a republic. Executive power is held by an elected president, who appoints his vice president and cabinet. The legislature is the single-house national Assembly, with 158 elected members and 12 members appointed by the president. There is only one political party.
The judicial system is based on English law. The Kenya Court of Appeal is the highest judicial body. There are special courts to hear matters involving Islamic law (Schatzberg, 2005).
The Republic of Kenya is continuously working out for the increased of its economy and improves the lifestyle of every citizen. The manpower of Kenya is so great, especially in their agriculture, because that is the only means of their income in order to survive.
Schatzberg, Michael G. The Political Economy of Kenya. Praeger Publishers, New York, 2005.
Kenya, Mount. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press. New York, 2004.
Kenya. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press. New York, 2004.
Donovan, Alan. Kenya: The Rise and Fall of African Heritage. New African. Issue: 449. March, 2006.
Miller, Edward. Kenya Wary as Traditional Religions Are Revived. The Washington Times. Page Number: 14, August 2004.
Kenya. New Standard Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, Pp. 456-457.