Kenya

Flag

  • The shield and crossed spears represent the defence of freedom.
  • The black bar symbolizes the people of Kenya.
  • The red bar symbolizes the blood shed in the struggle for independence.
  • The green bar symbolizes Kenya's natural resources.
  • The two narrow white bars symbolize peace and unity.
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History

Origin Of Name

Kenya is named after Mount Kenya- the second tallest Mountain in Africa. The Kikuyu people who lived around present day Mt Kenya referred to it as Kirinyaga or Kerenyaga, meaning mountain of whiteness because of its snow capped peak. Mt Kirinyaga which was the main landmark became synonymous with the territory the British later claimed as their colony. The name Kenya arose out of the inability of the British to pronounce Kirinyaga correctly.

Initial Settlers

The first people to settle in Kenya were indigenous African communities who migrated from various parts of the continent. Other visitors included traders, explorers and tourists who came in from various parts of the world such as Portugal, Arabia, Roman empire, India and Greece. They visited mainly the East African Coast from as early as the first century A.D. While the majority of the visitors went back to their countries, some settled, and intermarried with the local populations giving rise to a new Swahili culture along the Coast.

Culture

Kenya is endowed with a rich historical, cultural and natural heritage and is popularly known as the Cradle of Mankind. Kenya is also one of the most cosmopolitan countries in Africa no one single cultural element can be used to describe the people as a whole. You could say that the country’s local population easily represents more diversity than many other African countries. Most importantly Kenyans are united under the Red, White and Black colours of the flag and the spirit of Harambee which means pulling together as a community.

Traditional African beliefs play a significant role in the lives of Kenyans in spite of adapting to modern values. Kenyans practice traditional values of humility, concern for neighbors and maintenance of kinship ties. Beliefs in superstition are not common except deep in the rural areas. Activities such as marriage, child naming, burials and other rites of passage are still heavily influenced by traditional beliefs and practices and range from community to community.

Some communities have retained more of the traditional African lifestyle than others. They live in huts, walk barefoot, dress in robes and decorate their hair with colored soils. The Maasai tribe is famous for maintaining a nomadic way of life revolving around cattle and the search for pasture. This fiercely proud tribe of warriors has resisted numerous attempts at modernization and consequently has gained great respect (and curiosity) internationally.

A visit to the bustling cities, towns and villages of Kenya will be an eye opener to the determination of the people. Right from casual workers in sprawling industrial complexes to executives at the stock market and further onwards to the roadsides where men and women of all ages are earning a living for their families. Everyday has its fortunes: sometimes business is good, other times they walk home with nothing. Entrepreneurship is the locomotive engine behind these attributes of hard work and perseverance as Kenyans remain united in the quest for success and fulfillment.

Languages

Kenya is a linguistically diverse country where majority of population speak at least 3 languages. In addition to the 42 ethnic dialects, English is the official language while Swahili (Kiswahili) is the national language spoken by almost every Kenyan. Sheng a mixture of Swahili and English, with a bit of other indigenous languages is also commonly spoken in urban areas and has gained popularity amongst politicians and advertisements agencies who try to diversify their audience and target the youths.

Common Foods

Staple foods include; Ugali, rice, bread, chapati Nyama (Meats): Beef, chicken, Goat, Samaki (Fish): Tilapia, Omena(sardines) and Vegetables.

When in Kenya, most people will invite you to enjoy Nyama Choma- open fire grilled red meat with ugali (Cornmeal) and Sukumawiki (Collard Greens)

Arts & Crafts

Kenya is a hub for beautiful culturally inspired arts and crafts. Some of the items are sold as memorabilia to our visitors and they include: sisal baskets, Maasai bead jewelry, musical instruments, soapstone sculptures, animal wooden carvings, tribal masks, paintings and prints on batik clothes, sculptures, kangas-women’s wraparound skirts with beautiful patterns with swahili proverbs printed on them, kikoi textile sarongs and more.

Geography

Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a sovereign state in Africa. Its capital and largest city is Nairobi. Kenya lies on the equator with the Indian Ocean to the south-east, Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, South Sudan to the north-west, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the north-east. Kenya covers 581,309 km2 (224,445 sq mi) and has a population of about 41.5 million in July 2012.

Climate

The country has a warm and humid climate along its Indian Ocean coastline, with wildlife-rich savannah grasslands inland towards the capital. Nairobi has a cool climate that gets colder approaching Mount Kenya, which has three permanently snow-capped peaks. Further inland there is a warm and humid climate around Lake Victoria, and temperate forested and hilly areas in the western region. The northeastern regions along the border with Somalia and Ethiopia are arid and semi-arid areas with near-desert landscapes. Lake Victoria, the worlds second largest fresh-water lake and the worlds largest tropical lake, is situated to the southwest and is shared with Uganda and Tanzania.

Common Foods

Staple foods include; Ugali, rice, bread, chapati Nyama (Meats): Beef, chicken, Goat, Samaki (Fish): Tilapia, Omena(sardines) and Vegetables.

When in Kenya, most people will invite you to enjoy Nyama Choma- open fire grilled red meat with ugali (Cornmeal) and Sukumawiki (Collard Greens)

Principal commercial cities and towns

Nairobi is the capital city and a commercial center. It is situated 300 miles from the Coast and lies midway between the capitals of Uganda and Tanzania. It is the largest city in East Africa and houses two UN agencies, UNEP and Habitat.

Mombasa is Kenyas main port and a popular holiday city. It is situated on an island in a natural sheltered inlet. It is the only port that serves not only Kenya but land locked countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan.

Kisumu is the Chief Port city on the shores of lake Victoria. It serves western Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Nakuru is an agricultural and industrial town in the Rift Valley basin.

Eldoret lies on the main road and rail route to Uganda. It is mainly an agricultural town that serves wheat and Maize farmers from the North Rift

Kenya Map