Kenya ( /ˈkɛnjə/ or /ˈkiːnjə/), officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator. With the Indian Ocean to its south-east, it is bordered by 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 has a land area of 580,000 km2 and a population of a little over 43 million residents. The country is named after Mount Kenya, a significant landmark and second among Africa's highest mountain peaks. Its capital and largest city is Nairobi.
Kenya has a warm and humid climate along its coastline on the Indian Ocean, which changes to wildlife-rich savannah grasslands moving inland towards the capital. Nairobi has a cool climate that gets colder approaching Mount Kenya, which has three permanently snow-capped peaks. The warm and humid tropical climate reappears further inland towards lake Victoria, before giving way to temperate forested and hilly areas in the western region. The North Eastern regions along the border with Somalia and Ethiopia are arid and semi-arid areas with near-desert landscapes. Lake Victoria, the world's second largest fresh-water lake (after Lake Superior in the US and Canada) and the world's largest tropical lake, is situated to the southwest and is shared with Uganda and Tanzania. Kenya is famous for its safaris and diverse world-famous wildlife reserves such as the East and West Tsavo National Park, the Maasai Mara, Nakuru National Park, and Aberdares National Park.
The African Great Lakes region, of which Kenya is a part, has seen human habitation since the Lower Paleolithic period. The Bantu expansion reached the area from West-Central Africa by the first millennium AD, and the borders of the modern state comprise the crossroads of the Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan and Afro-Asiatic ethno-linguistic areas of the continent, making Kenya a truly multi-cultural country. European and Arab presence in Mombasa dates to the Early Modern period, but European exploration of the interior began only in the 19th century. The British Empire established the East Africa Protectorate in 1895, known from 1920 as the Kenya Colony. The independent Republic of Kenya was founded in December 1963. Following a referendum in August 2010 and adoption of a new constitution that is to replace the old one that was inherited from the British at independence, Kenya is now divided into 47 counties that are semi-autonomous units of governance. These units are expected to be fully implemented by August 2012 – in time for the first general election under the new constitution. The counties will be governed by elected governors and will operate independent of the central government in Nairobi.
The capital, Nairobi, is a regional commercial hub. The economy of Kenya is the largest by GDP in East and Central Africa. Agriculture is a major employer and the country traditionally exports tea and coffee, and more recently fresh flowers to Europe. The service industry is a major economic driver. Kenya is a member of the East African Community.
The word Kenya, /ˈkɛnjə/, originates from the Kikuyu, Embu and Kamba names for Mount Kenya, "Kirinyaga", "Kirinyaa" and "Kiinyaa". Prehistoric volcanic eruptions of Mount Kenya (now extinct) may have resulted in its association with divinity and creation among the indigenous Kikuyu-related ethnic groups who are the native inhabitants of the agricultural land surrounding Mount Kenya.[original research?]
The Wakamba first pointed out the second mountain to Dr. Krapf called "Kĩ-Nyaa" or "Kĩĩma- Kĩĩyaa" which is similar to Kĩrĩma Kĩrĩnyaga in Kikuyu... probably because the pattern of black rock and white snow on its peaks reminded them of the feathers of the cock ostrich.
The word "Nyaga" is a Kikuyu – Embu word meaning "spot". It is a diminutive for "Manyaganyaga" (spots). The spots of the black rock and the white snow could be the origin of the words "Kĩrĩ-nyaga" which in this case means 'spotted'. Therefore, Mwene- Nyaga (Agikuyu God) means "The owner/guardian of the spotted Mountain".
In the 19th century, the German explorer Ludwig Krapf recorded the name as both Kenia and Kegnia believed by some to be a corruption of the Kamba version. Others say that this was—on the contrary—a very precise notation of a correct African pronunciation /ˈkɛnjə/. A map drawn by Joseph Thompsons, 1882 a Scottish geologist and Naturalist indicated Mt. Kenya as Mt. Kenia, 18620.
Geography and climate
At 580,367 km2 (224,081 sq mi), Kenya is the world's forty-seventh largest country (after Madagascar). It lies between latitudes 5°N and 5°S, and longitudes 34° and 42°E. From the coast on the Indian Ocean, the low plains rise to central highlands. The highlands are bisected by the Great Rift Valley; a fertile plateau lies in the east. The Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa. The highlands are the site of the highest point in Kenya (and the second highest in Africa): Mount Kenya, which reaches 5,199 m (17,057 ft) and is the site of glaciers. Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895 m/19,341 ft) can be seen from Kenya to the South of the Tanzanian border.
Kenya's climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland to arid in the north and northeast parts of the country. Kenya receives a great deal of sunshine all the year round, and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. It is usually cool at night and early in the morning inland at higher elevations. The "long rains" season occurs from March/April to May/June. The "short rains" season occurs from October to November/December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The temperature remains high throughout these months of tropical rain. The hottest period is February and March, leading into the season of the long rains, and the coldest is in July and August.
Kenya has considerable land area devoted to wildlife habitats, including the Masai Mara, where Blue Wildebeest and other bovids participate in a large scale annual migration. Up to 250,000 blue wildebeest perish each year in the long and arduous movement to find forage in the dry season. The "Big Five" animals of Africa can be found in Kenya and in the Masai Mara in particular: the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant. A significant population of other wild animals, reptiles and birds can be found in the national parks and game reserves in the country. The annual animal migration – especially migration of the wildebeest – occurs between June and September with millions of animals taking part.
Kenya is the setting for one of the Natural Wonders of the World – the great wildebeest migration. 11.5 million of these ungulates migrate a distance of 1,800 miles from the Serengeti in neighbouring Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya, in a constant clockwise fashion, searching for food and water supplies.
Giant crocodile fossils have been discovered in Kenya, dating from the Mesozoic Era, over 200 million years ago. The fossils were found in an excavation conducted by a team from the University of Utah and the National Museums of Kenya in July–August 2004 at Lokitaung Gorge, near Lake Turkana.
Fossils found in East Africa suggest that primates roamed the area more than 20 million years ago. Recent finds near Kenya's Lake Turkana indicate that hominids such as Homo habilis (1.8 and 2.5 million years ago) and Homo erectus (1.8 million to 350 000 years ago) are possible direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens and lived in Kenya during the Pleistocene epoch. In 1984, one particular discovery made at Lake Turkana by famous palaeoanthropologist Richard Leakey and Kamoya Kimeu was the skeleton of a Turkana boy, belonging to Homo erectus from 1.6 million years ago. Previous research on early hominids is particularly identified with Mary Leakey and Louis Leakey, who were responsible for the preliminary archaeological research at Olorgesailie and Hyrax Hill. Later work at the former was undertaken by Glynn Isaac.
Kenya has been inhabited by people for as long as human history has existed.
The first inhabitants of present-day Kenya were hunter-gatherer groups, akin to the modern Khoisan speakers. These people were later replaced by agropastoralist Cushitic speakers from the Horn of Africa. During the early Holocene the regional climate shifted from dry to wetter climatic conditions, providing an opportunity for the development of cultural traditions, such as agriculture and herding, in a more favorable environment.
Around 500 BC Nilotic speaking pastoralists (ancestral to Kenya's Nilotic speakers) started migrating from present-day Southern Sudan into Kenya. Nilotic groups in Kenya include the Samburu, Luo, Turkana, Maasai.
By the first millennium AD, Bantu-speaking farmers moved into the region. The Bantus originated in West Africa along the Benue River in what is now eastern Nigeria and western Cameroon. The Bantu migration brought new developments in agriculture and iron working to the region. Bantu groups in Kenya include the Kikuyu, Luhya, Kamba, Kisii, Ameru, Aembu, Ambeere and Mijikenda among others.
Remarkable prehistoric sites in the interior of Kenya include the archaeoastronomical site Namoratunga on the west side of Lake Turkana and the walled settlement of ThimLich Ohinga in Nyanza Province.
Arab traders began frequenting the Kenya coast around the 1st century AD. Kenya's proximity to the Arabian Peninsula invited colonization, and Arab and Persian settlements sprouted along the coast by the 8th century.
The Kenyan coast had served host to communities of ironworkers and communities of subsistence farmers, hunters and fishers who supported the economy with agriculture, fishing, metal production and trade with foreign countries.
The Kilwa Sultanate was a medieval sultanate, centered at Kilwa in modern-day Tanzania. At its height, its authority stretched over the entire length of the Swahili Coast, including Kenya. It was founded in the 10th century by Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi, a Persian Prince of Shiraz. The Persian rulers would go on to build elaborate coral mosques and introduced copper coinage.
During this period, Arabs from southern Arabia settled on the coast. They established many new autonomous city-states, including Mombasa, Malindi and Zanzibar. The Arab migrants also introduced Islam and the Omani dialect of Arabic to the area. This blending of cultures left a notable Arabian influence on the local Bantu Swahili culture and language of the coast. The Arabs built Mombasa into a major port city and established trade links with other nearby city-states, as well as commercial centers in Persia, Arabia, and even India. By the 15th-century, Portuguese voyager Duarte Barbosa claimed that "Mombasa is a place of great traffic and has a good harbour in which there are always moored small craft of many kinds and also great ships, both of which are bound from Sofala and others which come from Cambay and Melinde and others which sail to the island of Zanzibar."
In the centuries preceding colonization, the Swahili coast of Kenya was part of the east African region which traded with the Arab world and India especially for ivory and slaves (the Ameru tribe is said to have originated from slaves escaping from Arab lands sometime around the year 1700). Initially these traders came mainly from Arab states, but later many came from Zanzibar (such as Tippu Tip). Close to 90% of the population on the Kenya coast was enslaved. Swahili, a Bantu language with Arabic, Persian, and other Middle Eastern and South Asian loanwords, later developed as a lingua franca for trade between the different peoples.
Throughout the centuries the Kenyan Coast has played host to many merchants and explorers. Among the cities that line the Kenyan coast is the City of Malindi. It has remained an important Swahili settlement since the 14th century and once rivaled Mombasa for dominance in this part of East Africa. Malindi has traditionally been a friendly port city for foreign powers. In 1414, the Arab Sultan of Malindi initiated diplomatic relations with Ming Dynasty China during the voyages of the explorer Zheng He. Malindi authorities welcomed Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, in 1498.
The colonial history of Kenya dates from the establishment of a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar's coastal possessions in 1885, followed by the arrival of the Imperial British East Africa Company in 1888. Incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled when Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890. This was followed by the building of the Kenya–Uganda railway passing through the country. This was resisted by some tribes — notably the Nandi led by Orkoiyot Koitalel Arap Samoei for ten years from 1895 to 1905 — still the British eventually built the railway. The Nandi were the first tribe to be put in a native reserve to stop them from disrupting the building of the railway. During the railway construction era, there was a significant inflow of Indian peoples, who provided the bulk of the skilled manpower required for construction.
While building the railroad through Tsavo, a number of the Indian railway workers and local African labourers were attacked by two lions known as the Tsavo maneaters. They and most of their descendants later remained in Kenya and formed the core of several distinct Indian communities such as the Ismaili Muslim and Sikh communities.
At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the governors of British East Africa (as the Protectorate was generally known) and German East Africa agreed a truce in an attempt to keep the young colonies out of direct hostilities. Lt Col Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck took command of the German military forces, determined to tie down as many British resources as possible. Completely cut off from Germany, von Lettow conducted an effective guerilla warfare campaign, living off the land, capturing British supplies, and remaining undefeated. He eventually surrendered in Zambia eleven days after the Armistice was signed in 1918. To chase von Lettow the British deployed the British Indian Army troops from India and then needed large numbers of porters to overcome the formidable logistics of transporting supplies far into the interior on foot. The Carrier Corps was formed and ultimately mobilised over 400,000 Africans, contributing to their long-term politicisation.
During the early part of the 20th century, the interior central highlands were settled by British and other European farmers, who became wealthy farming coffee and tea. (One depiction of this period of change from one colonist's perspective is found in the memoir "Out of Africa" by Danish author Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke, published in 1937.) By the 1930s, approximately 30,000 white settlers lived in the area and gained a political voice because of their contribution to the market economy. The area was already home to over a million members of the Kikuyu people, most of whom had no land claims in European terms, and lived as itinerant farmers. To protect their interests, the settlers banned the growing of coffee, introduced a hut tax, and the landless were granted less and less land in exchange for their labour. A massive exodus to the cities ensued as their ability to provide a living from the land dwindled. By the 1950s, the white population numbered 80,000.
In 1952, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Phillip were on holiday at the Treetops Hotel in Kenya when her father, King George VI, passed away in his sleep. The young princess cut-short her trip and returned home immediately to take her throne. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at the Westminster Abbey in 1953 and, as one gentleman put it, she went up a tree in Africa a princess, and came down a queen.
From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule. The governor requested and obtained British and African troops, including the King's African Rifles. The British began counter-insurgency operations; in May 1953 General Sir George Erskine took charge as commander-in-chief of the colony's armed forces, with the personal backing of Winston Churchill.
The capture of Warũhiũ Itote (aka General China) on 15 January 1954 and the subsequent interrogation led to a better understanding of the Mau Mau command structure. Operation Anvil opened on 24 April 1954, after weeks of planning by the army with the approval of the War Council. The operation effectively placed Nairobi under military siege, and the occupants were screened and the Mau Mau supporters moved to detention camps. The Home Guard formed the core of the government's strategy as it was composed of loyalist Africans, not foreign forces like the British Army and King's African Rifles. By the end of the emergency, the Home Guard had killed 4,686 Mau Mau, amounting to 42% of the total insurgents. The capture of Dedan Kimathi on 21 October 1956 in Nyeri signified the ultimate defeat of the Mau Mau and essentially ended the military offensive. During this period, substantial governmental changes to land tenure occurred. The most important of these was the Swynnerton Plan, which was used to both reward loyalists and punish Mau Mau.
The first direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council took place in 1957. Despite British hopes of handing power to "moderate" African rivals, it was the Kenya African National Union (KANU) of Jomo Kenyatta that formed a government shortly before Kenya became independent on 12 December 1963, on the same day forming the first Constitution of Kenya. During the same year, the Kenyan army fought the Shifta War against ethnic Somalis who wanted Kenya's Northern Frontier District joined with the Republic of Somalia. The Shifta War officially ended with the signature of the Arusha Memorandum in October, 1967, but relative insecurity prevailed through 1969. To discourage further invasions, Kenya signed a defence pact with Ethiopia in 1969, which is still in effect.
On 12 December 1964 the Republic of Kenya was proclaimed, and Jomo Kenyatta became Kenya's first president. At Kenyatta's death in 1978, Daniel arap Moi became President. Daniel arap Moi retained the Presidency, being unopposed in elections held in 1979, 1983 (snap elections) and 1988, all of which were held under the single party constitution. The 1983 elections were held a year early, and were a direct result of an abortive military coup attempt on 2 August 1982.
The abortive coup was masterminded by a low ranked Air Force serviceman, Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka and was staged mainly by enlisted men in the Air Force. The attempt was quickly suppressed by Loyalist forces led by the Army, the General Service Unit (GSU) — a paramilitary wing of the police — and later the regular police, but not without civilian casualties. This event led to the disbanding of the entire Air Force and a large number of its former members were either dismissed or court-martialled.
The election held in 1988 saw the advent of the mlolongo (queuing) system, where voters were supposed to line up behind their favoured candidates instead of a secret ballot. This was seen as the climax of a very undemocratic regime and it led to widespread agitation for constitutional reform. Several contentious clauses, including one that allowed for only one political party were changed in the following years. In democratic, multiparty elections in 1992 and 1997, Daniel arap Moi won re-election. In 2002, Moi was constitutionally barred from running, and Mwai Kǐbakǐ, running for the opposition coalition "National Rainbow Coalition" — NARC, was elected President. Anderson (2003) reports the elections were judged free and fair by local and international observers, and seemed to mark a turning point in Kenya's democratic evolution.
Government and Politics
Kenya is a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President is both the head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. There was growing concern especially during former president Daniel arap Moi's tenure that the executive was increasingly meddling with the affairs of the judiciary.
Kenya has maintained remarkable stability despite changes in its political system and crises in neighbouring countries. A cross-party parliamentary reform initiative in the autumn of 1997 revised some oppressive laws inherited from the colonial era that had been used to limit freedom of speech and assembly. This improved public freedoms and contributed to generally credible national elections in December 1997.
In December 2002, Kenyans held democratic and open elections, most of which were judged free and fair by international observers. The 2002 elections marked an important turning point in Kenya's democratic evolution in that power was transferred peacefully from the Kenya African National Union (KANU), which had ruled the country since independence to the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc), a coalition of political parties.
Under the presidency of Mwai Kibaki, the new ruling coalition promised to focus its efforts on generating economic growth, combating corruption, improving education, and rewriting its constitution. A few of these promises have been met. There is free primary education. In 2007 the government issued a statement declaring that from 2008, secondary education would be heavily subsidised, with the government footing all tuition fees.
It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, "in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law"
The Proposed Constitution allocates various government functions to the 47 counties listed at the end of the Constitution in Schedule 1. The reasons for devolving power are set out in Chapter 11 and, in essence, are to:
- promote people’s participation in governance.
- promote equitable development and the sharing of resources throughout the country.
- take services closer to the people.
- enhance the system of checks and balances.
- foster unity by recognising diversity.
Law and criminal justice
The Judiciary is repositioning itself within the context of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. The Judiciary is involved in a major transformation programme with the competitive recruitment of the Chief Justice, other Judicial offices as well as admin and paralegal staff. A major re-organisation of the institution is currently underway to enable it fulfill its constitutional mandate under article 159 and meet public expectation. There are four distinct systems of law in Kenya:
- English law which is derived from its colonial past with Britain;
- Common law, a development of its post colonial independence;
- Customary law which is derived from indigenous traditional norms and practice, including the dispute resolution meetings
- Sharia law
Kenya is a member of IGAD, African Union, East African Community, International Criminal Court, and the Commonwealth of Nations.
The latest general elections were held on 27 December 2007. In them, President Kibaki under the Party of National Unity ran for re-election against the main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The elections were seen to have been flawed with international observers saying that they were below international standards. After a split which would take a crucial 8% of the votes away from the ODM to the newly formed Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya (ODM-K)'s candidate, Kalonzo Musyoka, the race tightened between ODM candidate Raila Odinga and Kibaki. As the count came in to the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) headquarters, Odinga was shown to have a slight, and then substantial lead as the results from his strongholds came in early. As the ECK continued to count the votes, Kibaki closed the gap and then overtook his opponent by a substantial margin after votes from his stronghold arrived later. This led to protests and open discrediting of the ECK for complicity and to Odinga declaring himself the "people's president" and calling for a recount.
The protests escalated into ethnic violence and destruction of property, almost 1,000 people were killed and nearly 600,000 displaced. The dispute caused underlying tensions over land and its distribution to re-erupt, as it had in the 1992 and 1997 elections. Hundreds of thousands were forced off their land to relatives elsewhere in the country and some claim weapons are being bought in the region, perhaps in anticipation of the 2012 elections.
A group of eminent persons of Africa, led by former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, brokered a peaceful solution to the political stalemate.
Since the election riots, the government and civil society organisations started programmes to avoid similar disasters in the future, sais Agnes R. M. Aboum - executive director of TAABCO Research and Development Consultants in Nairobi - in the magazine D+C Development and Cooperation. For example, the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission initiated community dialogues, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya started peace meetings and the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process was started.
On 28 February 2008, Kibaki and Odinga signed an agreement on the formation of a coalition government in which Odinga would become Kenya's second prime Minister. Under the deal, the president would appoint cabinet ministers from both PNU and ODM camps depending on each party's strength in Parliament. The agreement stipulated that the cabinet would include a vice-president and two deputy Prime Ministers. After being debated and passed by Parliament, the coalition would hold until the end of the current Parliament or if either of the parties withdraws from the deal before then.
The new office of the PM will have power and authority to co-ordinate and supervise the functions of the Government and will be occupied by an elected MP who will be the leader of the party or coalition with majority members in Parliament. The world watched Annan and his UN-backed panel and African Union chairman Jakaya Kikwete as they brought together the erstwhile rivals to the signing ceremony, beamed live on national TV from the steps of Nairobi's Harambee House. On 29 February 2008, representatives of PNU and ODM began working on the finer details of the power-sharing agreement. Kenyan lawmakers unanimously approved a power-sharing deal 18 March 2008, aimed at salvaging a country usually seen as one of the most stable and prosperous in Africa. The deal brought Kibaki's PNU and Odinga's ODM together and heralded the formation of the grand coalition, in which the two political parties would share power equally.
On 13 April 2008, President Kibaki named a grand coalition cabinet of 41 Ministers- including the prime minister and his two deputies. The cabinet, which included 50 Assistant Ministers, was sworn in at the State House in Nairobi on Thursday, 17 April 2008 in the presence of Dr. Kofi Annan and other invited dignitaries.
A constitutional change was considered that would eliminate the position of Prime Minister and simultaneously reduce the powers of the President. A referendum to vote on the proposed constitution was held on 4 August 2010, and the new constitution passed by a wide margin. Among other things, the new constitution delegates more power to local governments and gives Kenyans a bill of rights. It was promulgated on 27 August 2010 at a euphoric ceremony in Nairobi's Uhuru Park, accompanied by a 21-gun salute. The event was graced by a number of African leaders and praised by the international community. As of that day, the new constitution heralding the Second Republic came into force.
Kenya is divided into 47 semi-autonomous counties that will be headed by governors who will be elected in the first general election under the new constitution in August 2012 (There is still controversy over whether the elections should be held in August or December 2012). Under the old constitution, Kenya comprised eight provinces each headed by a Provincial Commissioner (centrally appointed by the president). The provinces (mkoa singular mikoa plural in Swahili) were subdivided into districts (wilaya). There were 69 districts as of 1999 census. Districts are then subdivided into 497 divisions (taarafa). The divisions are then subdivided into 2,427 locations (mtaa) and then 6,612 sublocations (mtaa mdogo). The City of Nairobi enjoys the status of a full administrative province. The government supervises administration of districts and provinces. The provinces are:
Under the current Kenya constitution, local government authorities are not recognized. However, under the old constitution, local governance in Kenya was practised through local authorities. Many urban centres host city, municipal or town councils. Local authorities in rural areas are known as county councils. Local councillors are elected by civic elections, which are held alongside general elections.
Constituencies are an electoral subdivision. An Interim Boundaries commission was formed in year 2010 to review the constituencies and in its report, it recommended creation of additional 80 constituencies. Currently, there are 210 Constituencies in Kenya.
Although Kenya is the biggest and most advanced economy in east and central Africa, it is still a poor developing country with a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.509, putting the country at position 143 out of 185 – one of the lowest in the world and half of Kenyans live in absolute poverty. The important agricultural sector is one of the least developed and largely inefficient, employing 75 percent of the workforce compared to less than 3 percent in the food secure developed countries.
Despite western donors' early disillusionment with the government, the economy has seen much expansion, seen by strong performance in tourism, higher education and telecommunications, and acceptable post-drought results in agriculture, especially the vital tea sector. Kenya's economy grew by more than 7% in 2007, and its foreign debt was greatly reduced. But this changed immediately after the disputed presidential election of December 2007, following the chaos which engulfed the country.
East and Central Africa's biggest economy has posted tremendous growth in the service sector, boosted by rapid expansion in telecommunication and financial activity over the last decade, and now contributes 62 percent of GDP. Unfortunately, a massive 22 percent of GDP still comes from the unreliable agricultural sector which employs 75 percent of the labor force (a consistent characteristic of under-developed economies that have not attained food security – an important catalyst of economic growth) and a significant portion of the population regularly starves and is heavily dependent on food aid. Industry and manufacturing is the smallest sector that accounts for 16 percent of the GDP.
Kenya has traditionally been a liberal market with minimal government involvement (price control) seen in the oil industry. However, recent legislation allows the government to determine and gazette price-controls on essential commodities like maize flour, kerosine and cooking oil.
Privatisation of state corporations like the defunct Kenya Post and Telecommunications Company, which resulted in East Africa's most profitable company – Safaricom, has led to their revival due to massive private investment.
As of May 2010, economic prospects are positive with 4–5% GDP growth expected, largely because of expansions in tourism, telecommunications, transport, construction and a recovery in agriculture. The World Bank predicts growth of 4% in 2010 and a potential of 4.9% growth in 2011.
In March 1996, the Presidents of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda re-established the East African Community (EAC). The EAC's objectives include harmonizing tariffs and customs regimes, free movement of people, and improving regional infrastructures. In March 2004, the three East African countries signed a Customs Union Agreement.
The more efficient and lucrative technology-knowledge-and-skill-based service; industry and manufacturing sectors only employ 25 percent of the labor force but contributes the remaining 75 percent of the GDP.
Kenya ranks poorly on Transparency International's corruption perception index.
Kenya is East and Central Africa's hub for Financial services. The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) is ranked 4th in Africa in terms of Market capitalization. The Kenya banking system is supervised by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). As of late July 2004, the system consisted of 43 commercial banks (down from 48 in 2001), several non-bank financial institutions, including mortgage companies, four savings and loan associations, and several score foreign-exchange bureaus.
Kenya's services sector, which contributes about 63 percent of GDP, is dominated by tourism. The tourism sector has exhibited steady growth in most years since independence and by the late 1980s had become the country's principal source of foreign exchange. Tourists, the largest number from Germany and the United Kingdom, are attracted mainly to the coastal beaches and the game reserves, notably, the expansive East and West Tsavo National Park (20,808 square kilometers) in the southeast. Tourism has seen a substantial revival over the past several years and is the major contributor to the pick-up in the country's economic growth. Tourism is now Kenya's largest foreign exchange earning sector, followed by flowers, tea, and coffee. In 2006 tourism generated US$803 million, up from US$699 million the previous year.
Agriculture is the second largest contributor to Kenya's gross domestic product (GDP), after the service sector. In 2005 agriculture, including forestry and fishing, accounted for about 24 percent of GDP, as well as for 18 percent of wage employment and 50 percent of revenue from exports. The principal cash crops are tea, horticultural produce, and coffee; horticultural produce and tea are the main growth sectors and the two most valuable of all of Kenya's exports. The production of major food staples such as corn is subject to sharp weather-related fluctuations. Production downturns periodically necessitate food aid—for example, in 2004 aid for 1.8 million people because of one of Kenya's intermittent droughts. Tea, coffee, sisal, pyrethrum, corn, and wheat are grown in the fertile highlands, one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa. Livestock predominates in the semi-arid savanna to the north and east. Coconuts, pineapples, cashew nuts, cotton, sugarcane, sisal, and corn are grown in the lower-lying areas.
Unfortunately, the country has not attained the level of investment and efficiency in agriculture that can guarantee food security and coupled with resulting poverty (53 percent of the population lives below the poverty line), a significant portion of the population regularly starves and is heavily dependent on food aid. Poor roads, an inadequate railway network, under-utilised water transport and expensive air transport have isolated mostly arid and semi-arid areas and farmers in other regions often leave food to rot in the fields because they cannot access markets. This was last seen in August and September 2011 prompting the Kenyans for Kenya initiative by the Red Cross.
Industry and manufacturing
Although Kenya is the most industrially developed country in East Africa, manufacturing still accounts for only 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Industrial activity, concentrated around the three largest urban centers, Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu, is dominated by food-processing industries such as grain milling, beer production, and sugarcane crushing, and the fabrication of consumer goods, e.g., vehicles from kits. There is a vibrant and fast growing cement production industry. Kenya has an oil refinery that processes imported crude petroleum into petroleum products, mainly for the domestic market. In addition, a substantial and expanding informal sector commonly referred to as Jua Kali engages in small-scale manufacturing of household goods, motor-vehicle parts, and farm implements.
Kenya's inclusion among the beneficiaries of the U.S. Government's African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has given a boost to manufacturing in recent years. Since AGOA took effect in 2000, Kenya's clothing sales to the United States increased from US$44 million to US$270 million (2006). Other initiatives to strengthen manufacturing have been the new government's favorable tax measures, including the removal of duty on capital equipment and other raw materials.
The largest share of Kenya's electricity supply comes from hydroelectric stations at dams along the upper Tana River, as well as the Turkwel Gorge Dam in the west. A petroleum-fired plant on the coast, geothermal facilities at Olkaria (near Nairobi), and electricity imported from Uganda make up the rest of the supply. Kenya's installed capacity stood at 1,142 megawatts between 2001 and 2003. The state-owned Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), established in 1997 under the name of Kenya Power Company, handles the generation of electricity, while the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), which is slated for privatization, handles transmission and distribution. Shortfalls of electricity occur periodically, when drought reduces water flow. To become energy sufficient, Kenya aims to build a nuclear power plant by 2017.
Kenya has proven deposits of oil in Turkana but the commercial viability of drilling not known. Kenya currently imports all crude petroleum requirements. Kenya, east Africa's largest economy, has no strategic reserves and relies solely on oil marketers' 21-day oil reserves required under industry regulations. Petroleum accounts for 20 to 25 percent of the national import bill.
In 2007, the Kenyan government unveiled Vision 2030, an economic development programme it hopes will put the country in the same league as the Asian Economic Tigers by the year 2030.
Kenya has proven oil deposits in Turkana District: President Mwai Kibaki announced on 26 March 2012 that Tullow Oil, an Anglo-Irish oil exploration firm, had struck oil but its commercial viability and subsequent production would take about three years to confirm.
Early in 2006 Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an oil exploration contract with Kenya, part of a series of deals designed to keep Africa's natural resources flowing to China's rapidly expanding economy.
The deal allowed for China's state-controlled offshore oil and gas company, CNOOC, to prospect for oil in Kenya, which is just beginning to drill its first exploratory wells on the borders of Sudan and Somalia and in coastal waters. There are formal estimates of the possible reserves of oil discovered.
Science and technology
Scientific research and development remains important in Kenyan universities, with many establishing science parks to facilitate production and co-operation with industry.
Kenya has a diverse population that includes most major ethnoracial and linguistic groups found in Africa. There are an estimated 42 different communities, with Bantus (67%) and Nilotes (30%) constituting the majority of local residents.Cushitic groups also form a small ethnic minority, as do Arabs, Indians and Europeans.
According to the U.S. CIA, ethnic groups in the nation are represented as follows: Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, non-African (Asian, European, and Arab) 1%.
The country has a young population, with 73% of residents aged below 30 years due to rapid population growth; from 2.9 million to 40 million inhabitants over the last century.
Kenya's various ethnic groups typically speak their mother tongues within their own communities. The two official languages, English and Swahili, are used in varying degrees of fluency for communication with other populations. English is widely spoken in commerce, schooling and government. Peri-urban and rural dwellers are less multilingual, with many in rural areas speaking only their native languages.
According to Ethnologue, there are a total of 69 languages spoken in Kenya. Most belong to two broad linguistic families: Niger-Congo (Bantu branch) and Nilo-Saharan (Nilotic branch), spoken by the country's Bantu and Nilotic populations, respectively. The Cushitic and Arab ethnic minorities speak languages belonging to the separate Afro-Asiatic family, with the Hindustani and European residents speaking languages from the Indo-European phylum.
In addition, Kenya's capital, Nairobi, is home to Kibera, one of the world's largest slums. The shanty town is believed to house between 170,000 and 1 million locals. The UNHCR base in Dadaab in the north also currently houses around 500,000 people.
The vast majority of Kenyans are Christian (83%), with 47.7% regarding themselves as Protestant and 23.5% as Roman Catholic. 621,200 of Kenyans are Orthodox Christians. Notably, Kenya has the highest number of Quakers in the world, with around 133,000 members. Sizeable minorities of other faiths do exist (Muslim 11.2%, irreligious 2.4%, indigenous beliefs 1.7%). Sixty percent of the Muslim population lives in Coast Province, comprising 50 percent of the total population there. Western areas of Coast Province are mostly Christian. The upper part of Eastern Province is home to 10 percent of the country's Muslims, where they constitute the majority religious group. In addition, there is a large Hindu population in Kenya (around 50,000), who have played a key role in the local economy. There is also a small group of Baha'is.
The bulk of medical care is provided by nurses who run most dispensaries and private medical clinics in rural and under-served urban areas where 80 percent of the population lives. Complicated cases are referred to clinical officers, medical officers and specialist physicians. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, in 2011 there were 65,000 qualified nurses registered in the country; 8,600 clinical officers and 7,000 doctors for the population of 43 million people (These figures from official registers include those who have died or left the profession hence the actual number of these workers may be lower).
Despite major achievements in the health sector, Kenya still faces many challenges. The life expectancy estimate has dropped to approximately 55 years in 2009 – five years below 1990 levels. The infant mortality rate is high at approximately 44 deaths per 1,000 children in 2012. The WHO estimated in 2011 that only 42% of births were attended by a skilled health professional.
Diseases of poverty directly correlate with a country's economic performance and wealth distribution: Half of Kenyans live below the poverty line near a struggling middle-class and preventable diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition are the biggest burden, major child-killers and responsible for much morbidity. Weak policies, corruption, inadequate health workers, weak management and poor leadership in the public health sector is are largely to blame. According to 2009 estimates, HIV prevalence is about 6.3% of the adult population. However, the 2011 UNAIDS Report suggests that the HIV epidemic may be improving in Kenya, as HIV prevalence is declining among young people (ages 15–24) and pregnant women.
The total fertility rate in Kenya is estimated to be 4.49 children per woman in 2012.Maternal mortality is high, partly because of female genital mutilation. This practice is however on the decline as the country becomes more modernised and the practice was also banned in the country in 2011.
Children attend nursery school, or kindergarten in the private sector, until they are five years old. This lasts one to three years (KG1, KG2 and KG3) and is financed privately because there has been no government policy regarding it until recently. There is much celebration and a graduation ceremony at the end of KG3 when the children are ready to join class one in primary school.
Basic formal education starts at age six years and lasts 12 years comprising eight years in primary school and four years in high school or secondary school. Primary school is free in public schools and those who exit at this level can join a vocational youth/village polytechnic or make their own arrangements for an apprenticeship program and learn a trade such as tailoring, carpentry, motor vehicle repair, brick-laying and masonry for about two years. Those who complete high school can join a polytechnic or other technical college and study for three years or proceed directly to the university and study for four years. Graduates from the polytechnics and colleges can then join the workforce and later obtain a specialised higher diploma qualification after a further one to two years of training, or join the university – usually in the second or third year of their respective course. The higher diploma is accepted by many employers in place of a bachelors degree and direct or accelerated admission to post-graduate studies is possible in some universities.
Public universities in Kenya are highly commercialised institutions and only a small fraction of qualified high school graduates are admitted on limited government-sponsorship into programmes of their choice. Most are admitted into the social sciences, which are cheap to run, or as self-sponsored students paying the full cost of their studies. Most qualified students who miss-out opt for middle-level diploma programmes in public or private universities, colleges and polytechnics.
The country's literacy level stands at 85% of the whole population. Preschool, which targets children from age three to five, is an integral component of the education system and is a key requirement for admission to Standard One (First Grade). At the end of primary education, pupils sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), which determines those who proceed to secondary school or vocational training. Primary school age is 6/7-13/14 years. For those who proceed to secondary level, there is a national examination at the end of Form Four – the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), which determines those proceeding to the universities, other professional training or employment. The Joint Admission Board (JAB) is responsible for selecting students joining the public universities. Other than the public schools, there are many private schools in the country, mainly in urban areas. Similarly, there are a number of international schools catering for various overseas educational systems.
Independent Kenya's first system of education was introduced by British colonists. After Kenya's independence on 12 December 1963, an authority named the Ominde Commission was formed to introduce changes that would reflect the nation's sovereignty. The commission focused on identity and unity, which were critical issues at the time. Changes in the subject content of history and geography were made to reflect national cohesion. Between 1964 and 1985, the 7–4–2–3 system was adopted – seven years of primary, four years of lower secondary, two years of upper secondary, and three years of university. All schools had a common curriculum.
In 1981, the Presidential Working Party on the Second University was commissioned to look at both the possibilities of setting up a second university in Kenya as well as the reforming of the entire education system. The committee recommended that the 7–4–2–3 system be changed to an 8–4–4 system (eight years in primary, four years in secondary, and four years in university education). The table under Present-day education in Kenya below shows the structure of the 8–4–4 system. Although the 7–4–2–3 system theoretically ended with the introduction of the new 8–4–4 system in 1985, the last batch of students from the former system graduated from Kenyan Universities in 1992.
Present-day education in Kenya
The current 8–4–4 system was launched in January 1985. It put more emphasis on vocational subjects on the assumption that the new structure would enable school dropouts at all levels either to be self-employed or to secure employment in the informal sector.
In January 2003, the Government of Kenya announced the introduction of free primary education. As a result, primary school enrollment increased by about 70%. Secondary and tertiary education enrollment has not increased proportionally because payment is still required for attendance.
In class eight of primary school the Kenya Certificate of Primary Examination (K.C.P.E.) is taken. The result of this examination is needed for placement at secondary school. In form four of secondary schools the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (K.C.S.E.) is taken. Students sit examinations in eight subjects of their choosing. However, English, KiSwahili (Languages) and Mathematics are compulsory subjects.
Private schooling also exists in Kenya. In 2007 the government issued a statement declaring that from 2008, secondary education would be heavily subsidized, with the government footing all tuition fees.
Kenya is a diverse country. Notable peoples include the Swahili on the coast, pastoralist communities in the north, and several different communities in the central and western regions. The Maasai culture is well known because of tourism, despite being a minor percentage of the Kenyan population. They are renowned for their elaborate upper body adornment and jewelry.
Kenya has an extensive music, television and theatre scene.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is one of the best known writers of Kenya. His book, Weep Not, Child, is an illustration of life in Kenya during the British occupation. This is a story about the effects of the Mau Mau on the lives of Kenyans. Its combination of themes—colonialism, education, and love—helped to make it one of the best-known novels in Africa.
M.G. Vassanji's 2003 novel The In-Between World of Vikram Lall won the Giller Prize in 2003. It is the fictional memoir of a Kenyan of Indian heritage and his family as they adjust to the changing political climates in colonial and post-colonial Kenya.
Since 2003, the literary journal Kwani? has been publishing Kenyan contemporary literature.
Kenya has a diverse assortment of popular music forms, in addition to multiple types of folk music based on the variety over 40 regional languages.
The guitar is the most dominant instrument in Kenyan popular music. Guitar rhythms are very complex and include both native beats and imported ones, especially the Congolese cavacha rhythm; music usually involves the interplay of multiple parts and, more recently, showy guitar solos.
Lyrics are most often in Swahili or English. There's also some emerging aspect of Lingala borrowed from Congolese musicians. Lyrics are also written in the indigenous languages, though urban radio will generally not play music in one of the "tribal" languages. This however has been seen through the emergence of vernacular radio stations that broadcast in native languages.
Benga music has been popular since the late 1960s, especially around Lake Victoria. The word benga is occasionally used to refer to any kind of pop music. bass, guitar and percussion are the usual instruments.
Zanzibaran taarab music has also become popular, as has hip hop, reggae, soul, soukous, zouk, rock and roll, funk and Europop.
Kenya is active in several sports, among them cricket, rallying, football (soccer), rugby union and boxing. But the country is known chiefly for its dominance in Middle-distance and long-distance athletics. Kenya has consistently produced Olympic and Commonwealth Games champions in various distance events, especially in 800 m, 1,500 m, 3,000 m steeplechase, 5,000 m, 10,000 m and the marathon. Kenyan athletes (particularly Kalenjin) continue to dominate the world of distance running, although competition from Morocco and Ethiopia has reduced this supremacy. Kenya's best-known athletes included the four-time women's Boston Marathon winner and two-time world champion Catherine Ndereba, former Marathon world record-holder Paul Tergat, and John Ngugi.
Kenya won several medals during the Beijing Olympics, five gold, five silver and four bronze, making it Africa's most successful nation in the 2008 Olympics. New athletes gained attention, such as Pamela Jelimo, the women's 800m gold medalist who went ahead to win the IAAF Golden League jackpot, and Samuel Wanjiru who won the men's marathon. Retired Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Kipchoge Keino helped usher in Kenya's ongoing distance dynasty in the 1970s and was followed by Commonwealth Champion Henry Rono's spectacular string of world record performances. Lately, there has been controversy in Kenyan athletics circles, with the defection of a number of Kenyan athletes to represent other countries, chiefly Bahrain and Qatar. The Kenyan Ministry of Sports has tried to stop the defections, but they have continued anyway, with Bernard Lagat the latest, choosing to represent the United States. Most of these defections occur because of economic or financial factors. Some elite Kenyan runners who cannot qualify for their country's strong national team find it easier to qualify by running for other countries. Kenya has been a dominant force in women's volleyball within Africa, with both the clubs and the national team winning various continental championships in the past decade. The women's team has competed at the Olympics and World Championships but without any notable success. Cricket is another popular and the most successful team sport. Kenya has competed in the Cricket World Cup since 1996. They upset some of the World's best teams and reached semi-finals of the 2003 tournament. They won the inaugural World Cricket League Division 1 hosted in Nairobi and participated in the World T20. Their current captain is Collins Obuya. They participated in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. Kenya is represented by Lucas Onyango as a professional rugby league player who plays with Oldham Roughyeds. Besides the former European Super League team, he has played for Widnes Vikings and rugby union with Sale Sharks. Rugby union is increasing in popularity. It is popular in Kenya especially with the annual Safari Sevens tournament. Kenya sevens team ranked 9th in IRB Sevens World Series for the 2006 season. Kenya was a regional power in soccer but its dominance has been eroded by wrangles within the Kenya Football Federation. This has led to a suspension by FIFA which was lifted in March, 2007. In the motor rallying arena, Kenya is home to the world famous Safari Rally, commonly acknowledged as one of the toughest rallies in the world, and a part of the World Rally Championship for many years until its exclusion after the 2002 event owing to financial difficulties. Some of the best rally drivers in the world have taken part in and won the rally, such as Björn Waldegård, Hannu Mikkola, Tommi Mäkinen, Shekhar Mehta, Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae. Though the rally still runs annually as part of the Africa rally championship, the organisers are hoping to be allowed to rejoin the World Rally championship in the next couple of years.
Kenyans generally have three meals in a day - breakfast in the morning (kiamsha kinywa), lunch after noon (chakula cha mchana) and supper in the evening (chakula cha jioni). In between they will have the 10 o'clock tea (chai ya saa nne) and 4 p.m. tea (chai ya saa kumi). Breakfast is usually tea or porridge with bread, chapati, mahamri, boiled potatoes or yams. Ugali with vegetables, sour milk, meat, fish or any other stew is generally eaten by most of the population for lunch or supper. Regional variations exist though and each region has their own preferred food.
In western Kenya, among the Luhya, Luo and Kalenjin, lye is a common ingredient in most traditional foods and mursik – a traditional milk drink. It is not yet known whether lye is responsible for the high prevalence of throat cancer in these region.
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