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Useful Notes / Kenya

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Where can you see lions, only in Kenya...
Come to Kenya, we've got lions...

The Republic of Kenya (Swahili: Jamhuri ya 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 there are growing concerns about dwindling populations of the country's wildlife.

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.

In the Middle Ages, modern-day Kenya was home to a number of states of varying size and power. The most important was probably the Sultanate of Mombasa, which ruled the city of the same name. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the coastal areas were the site of major imperial competition; Portugal and Oman competed for control of the valuable sea lanes and port cities, with the British Empire throwing itself into the ring in the early 19th century — the British eventually came out on top. Initially under corporate rule by the Imperial East Africa Company, the Company's failures caused the British government to take direct control of the area, first as a protectorate and then as a full colony. (Incidentally, under British rule, it was pronounced Keen-ya, as opposed to the current Kehn-ya.) The country became independent in 1963, with independence movement leader Jomo Kenyatta as its first president. 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.

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

Famous Kenyans:

  • 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 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.)
  • Lupita Nyong'o was born in Mexico to Luo parents from Kenya, but grew up in Nairobi. Though she now lives in the United States, she considers herself Kenyan-Mexican. Her family is rather famous in Kenya; Lupita's father, Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, is the current governor of Kisumu County and previously served in the Senate.

In fiction:

  • The Bush Baby is about a British girl being stranded in Kenya after the country forcibly pushes out it's former colonialists after achieving independence. It was based on the book The Bushbabies by William Stevenson.
  • Nowhere in Africa is about a family of German Jews that flees the Nazis in 1938, landing in Kenya where they have difficulty adjusting.
  • Watu Wote is an Oscar-nominated short film about religious strife between Muslims and Christians in Kenya, and specifically about a group of Muslim terrorists attacking a bus.
  • 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. There's a futuristic, high-tech version of Mombasa, Mount Kilimanjaro shows up in the background (while visible from the southern parts of Kenya, the mountain itself is in Tanzania), 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 continental 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 (1994), featuring a huge hazy sunset on the savannah with heat-haze effect.
  • Rafiki: A 2018 Kenyan film about a forbidden lesbian romance, homosexuality being illegal in Kenya.
  • Maa Mythology
  • Swahili Mythology

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.

The Kenyan national anthem

Ee Mungu nguvu yetu
Ilete baraka kwetu
Haki iwe ngao na mlinzi
Natukae na undugu
Amani na uhuru
Raha tupate na ustawi.

Amkeni ndugu zetu
Tufanye sote bidii
Nasi tujitoe kwa nguvu
Nchi yetu ya Kenya
Tuwe tayari kuilinda

Natujenge taifa letu
Eeh, ndio wajibu wetu
Kenya istahili heshima
Tuungane mikono
Pamoja kazini
Kila siku tuwe na shukrani

O God of all creation
Bless this our land and nation
Justice be our shield and defender
May we dwell in unity
Peace and liberty
Plenty be found within our borders.

Let one and all arise
With hearts both strong and true
Service be our earnest endeavour
And our homeland of Kenya
Heritage and splendour
Firm may we stand to defend.

Let all with one accord
In common bond united
Build this our nation together
And the glory of Kenya
The fruit of our labour
Fill every heart with thanksgiving.

  • Unitary presidential constitutional republic
    • President: William Ruto
    • Deputy President: Rigathi Gachagua
    • Senate Speaker: Amason Kingi
    • Assembly Speaker: Moses Wetangula
    • Chief Justice: Martha Koome

  • Capital and largest city: Nairobi
  • Population: 47,564,296
  • Area: 580,367 km² (224,081 sq mi) (48th)
  • Currency: Kenyan shilling (KSh) (KES)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: KE
  • Country calling code: 254
  • Highest point: Mount Kenya (5199 m/17,057 ft) (23rd)
  • Lowest point: Indian Ocean (3,741 m/12,274 ft) (-)