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Useful Notes: Kenya

We've got the lions, only in Kenya...
Come to Kenya, we've got lions...

The Republic of Kenya is a democratic country in East Africa with a population of 38 million. Its primary languages are English and Swahili. Internationally, it is best known for its wildlife reserves, traditionally hunted with rifles and now hunted with cameras, although they occasionally have to cull the elephants.

Though it varies depending on where you are, Kenya is warm with a largely tropical climate and regular rainy seasons. The highlands have long been prized for their quality as farmland, but only 8% of the total country is thought to be arable. There's a huge mountain called Mount Kenya, which generally has snow on its peak all year round, although climate change is eroding the glaciers there fairly rapidly.

Formerly a British colony (when it was pronounced Keen-ya, as opposed to the current Kehn-ya), it became independent in 1963. The British used a method of rule called "indirect rule," meaning they chose an ethnic group to rule for them by proxy. The effect of pitting the ethnic groups against each other continues today, and is the root for a lot of political tension. Disputed elections in 2007 saw a large-scale outbreak of violence that led to over a thousand deaths before a settlement was reached, creating a coalition government. The power-sharing arrangement pacified the two major ethnic groups, the Kikuyu and the Luo.

Barack Obama's father is a Luo man from Kenya. This prompted a national holiday when he was elected (and a bitter joke by the losing candidate in the presidential election—the Luo Raila Odinga—that a Luo would be President of the United States before one could be President of Kenya). This also prompted nutcases in America to believe that Obama himself is from Kenya as well, which would thus make him, the theorists believe, ineligible for the office of the Presidency. (It wouldn't, because Obama's mother is a US citizen and thus he is automatically as well. Same way that John McCain and Ted Cruz weren't born in America [McCain was born on in the Panama Canal zone and Cruz in Calgary, Canada] but are still citizens eligible for office by virtue of claiming citizenship from their parents.)

Kenya has had problems with drought recently, with some blaming mass deforestation of the Mau forest for the lack of moisture.

In fiction:

  • The book Weep Not Child by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o follows a rural Kikuyu boy named Njoroge during the revolution in the 1960s as he struggles to get an education.
  • The Halo games have featured Kenyan locations quite prominently, with a futuristic, high-tech version of Mombasa, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Portal to the Forerunner Ark is located underneath the mining town of Voi and the Kenyan countryside.
  • Lionel of As Time Goes By lived as a coffee planter in Kenya for years, and eventually returned to Britain to write a book about it, which he called My Life in Kenya.
  • Elena of Street Fighter fame, a native of the Highlands outside Nairobi, is one of the few African (let alone Kenyan) characters in fighting games. She has had two Kenyan-themed stages designed for her — The first, appearing in Street Fighter 3: New Generation, is two-tiered and consists of a suspension bridge between two cliffs above the savannah, which is then knocked out by a giant bird to send the characters tumbling down to the banks of a waterfall, complete with lounging elephant and giraffe. 2nd Impact features a re-colouring of the stage - it is set at night with bonfires and the elephant is asleep. In Third Strike, her stage is newly designed and straight out of The Lion King, featuring a huge hazy sunset on the savannah with heat-haze effect.

The Kenyan flag
The flag is based on that of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), the dominant political party of Kenya for forty years since independence in 1960, and uses the Marcus Garvey variant of the Pan-African colors. The black, maroon and green stripes symbolize the Africans, the blood of the fallen during Kenya's struggles for independence, and the land, respectively; the white fimbriations stand for peace and honesty; at the center is a shield used by the Maasai people as well as a pair of spears, symbolizing Kenyans' readiness to defend their homeland.

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