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Republic of Kenya

Jamhuri ya Kenya

CAPITAL: Nairobi

FLAG: The flag is a horizontal tricolor of black, red, and green stripes separated by narrow white bars. At the center is a red shield with black and white markings superimposed on two crossed white spears.

ANTHEM: Wimbo Wa Taifa (National Anthem), beginning "Ee Mungu nguvu yetu, ilete baraka Kwetu" ("O God of all creation, bless this our land and nation").

MONETARY UNIT: The Kenya shilling (Sh) is a paper currency of 100 cents; the Kenya pound (k£) is a unit of account equivalent to 20 shillings. There are coins of 5, 10, and 50 cents, and 1 and 5 shillings; and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 shillings. Sh1 = $0.01309 (or $1 = Sh76.38) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Madaraka Day, 1 June; Kenyatta Day, 20 October; Uhuru (Independence) Day, 12 December; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, 'Id al-Fitr, and 'Id al-'Adha'.

TIME: 3 pm = noon GMT.


Situated on the eastern coast of Africa, Kenya lies astride the equator. Its total area, including 11,230 sq km (4,336 sq mi) of water, is 582,650 sq km (224,962 sq mi), with a maximum length of 1,131 km (703 mi) ssennw and a maximum width of 1,025 km (637 mi) enewsw. Comparatively, the area occupied by Kenya is slightly more than twice the size of the state of Nevada. Kenya is bounded on the n by Sudan and Ethiopia, on the e by Somalia, on the se by the Indian Ocean, on the s by Tanzania, and on the w by Lake Victoria and Uganda, with a total land boundary length of 3,477 km (2,161 mi) and a coastline of 536 km (333 mi).

Kenya's capital city, Nairobi, is located in the south-central part of the country.


Kenya is notable for its topographical variety. The low-lying, fertile coastal region, fringed with coral reefs and islands, is backed by a gradually rising coastal plain, a dry region covered with savanna and thornbush. At an altitude of over 1,500 m (5,000 ft) and about 480 km (300 mi) inland, the plain gives way in the southwest to a high plateau, rising in parts to more than 3,050 m (10,000 ft), on which most of the population and the majority of economic activities are concentrated. The northern section of Kenya, forming three-fifths of the whole territory, is arid and of semidesert character, as is the bulk of the southeastern quarter.

In the high plateau area, known as the Kenya Highlands, lie Mt. Kenya (5,199 m/17,057 ft), Mt. Elgon (4,310 m/14,140 ft), and the Aberdare Range (rising above 3,962 m/13,000 ft). The plateau is bisected from north to south by the Great Rift Valley, part of the geological fracture that can be traced from Syria through the Red Sea and East Africa to Mozambique. In the north of Kenya the valley is broad and shallow, embracing Lake Rudolf (Lake Turkana), which is about 207 km (155 mi) long; farther south the valley narrows and deepens and is walled by escarpments 600900 m (2,0003,000 ft) high. West of the Great Rift Valley, the plateau descends to the plains that border Lake Victoria. The principal rivers are the Tana and the Athi, both flowing southeastward to the Indian Ocean, and the Ewaso Ngiro, which flows in a northeasterly direction to the swamps of the Lorian Plain.


The climate of Kenya is as varied as its topography. Climatic conditions range from the tropical humidity of the coast through the dry heat of the hinterland and northern plains to the coolness of the plateau and mountains; despite Kenya's equatorial position, Mt. Kenya is perpetually snowcapped. The coastal temperature averages 27°c (81°f), and the temperature decreases by slightly less than 2°c (3°f) with each 300 m (1,000 ft) increase in altitude. The capital, Nairobi, at 1,661 m (5,449 ft), has a mean annual temperature of 19°c (66°f); at 2,740 m (9,000 ft) the average is 13°c (55°f). The arid northern plains range from 21°27°c (7081°f).

Seasonal variations are distinguished by duration of rainfall rather than by changes of temperature. Most regions of the country have two rainy seasons, the long rains falling between April and June and the short rains between October and December. Average annual rainfall varies from 13 cm (5 in) a year in the most arid regions of the northern plains to 193 cm (76 in) near Lake Victoria. The coast and highland areas receive an annual average of 102 cm (40 in).


The vegetation and animal life of Kenya reflect the variety of its topography and climate. In the coastal region coconut trees flourish, with occasional mangrove swamps and rain forest. The vast plains of the hinterland and the northern regions are covered with grass, low bush, and scrub, giving way in the high-lying plains to typical savanna country of open grass dotted with thorn trees, and in the more arid regions to bare earth and stunted scrub. The highland areas are in parts densely forested with bamboo and valuable timber, the predominant trees being African camphor, African olive, podo, and pencil cedar.

Wildlife of great variety is to be found in Kenya, both in the sparsely populated areas and in the national parks and reserves that have been created for its protection. Elephant, rhinoceros, lion, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, hippopotamus, wildebeest, and many kinds of buck are among the large mammals that abound on the plains and along the rivers. Kenya's diverse bird species include cranes, flamingos, ostriches, and vultures.

As of 2002, there were at least 359 species of mammals, 344 species of birds, and over 6,500 species of plants throughout the country.


Deforestation and soil erosion are attributed to growing population pressure, which creates increased demands for food production and firewood. Drought and desertification (to which 83% of Kenya's land area is vulnerable) threaten potential productive agricultural lands. By the mid 1980s, Kenya had lost 70% of its original mangrove areas, with the remainder covering an estimated 53,00062,000 hectares. Also of concern is the drop in water level at Lake Victoria. Some reports estimate that in the period of 19952005, the water level dropped by one meter. Around Lake Nakuru, there has been a great loss of vegetation and deforestation, which, like the situation of Lake Victoria, has likely been caused by drought and desertification.

Water pollution from urban and industrial wastes poses another environmental problem. Kenya has 20 cu km of renewable water resources with 76% used in farming activity and 4% used for industrial purposes. Only about 46% of the residents in rural areas and 89% of city dwellers have pure drinking water.

In an effort to preserve wildlife, the government has set aside more than 3.5 million hectacres as national parks and game preserves. In 2003, 8% of Kenya's total land area was protected, including Mount Kenya National Park, which is listed as a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kenya has five Ramsar wetland sites. Game hunting and trade in ivory and skins have been banned, but poaching threatens leopards, cheetahs, lions, elephants, rhinoceroses, and other species. It is illegal to kill an animal even if it attacks. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 33 types of mammals, 28 species of birds, 5 types of reptiles, 4 species of amphibians, 29 species of fish, 16 types of mollusks, 11 species of other invertebrates, and 103 species of plants. Endangered species included the Sokoke scops owl, Taita blue-banded papilio, Tana River mangabey, Tana River red colobus, the green sea turtle, and the hawksbill turtle. There are 45 extinct species including the Kenyan rocky river frog and the Kenya oribi.


The population of Kenya in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 33,830,000, which placed it at number 34 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 2% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 43% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 100 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be 2.2%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The projected population for the year 2025 was 49,357,000. The population density was 58 per sq km (151 per sq mi), but density varies significantly by region. About 75% of the population lives on only 10% of the land.

Kenya's population increased with remarkable rapidity in recent decades. According to UN estimates, the national total rose by 28% from 6,416,000 in 1950 to 8,189,000 in 1960; by 37% to 11,253,000 in 1970; by 46% to 16,466,000 in 1980; by 36% to 22,400,000 in 1987; by 24% to an estimated 27,885,000 in 1995; and by 21% to an estimated 33,830,000 in 2005.

The UN estimated that 36% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 3.67%. The capital city, Nairobi, had a population of 2,575,000 in that year. Mombasa, the chief seaport, had an estimated 900,000. Other large cities and their estimated populations were Nakuru, 333,800; Kisumu, 322,724; Eldoret, 246,900; Nyeri, 218,600; Machakos, 144,109; and Meru, 78,100.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has had a significant impact on the population of Kenya. The UN estimated that 15% of adults between the ages of 1549 were living with HIV/AIDS in 2001. The AIDS epidemic causes higher death and infant mortality rates, and lowers life expectancy.


Throughout Kenya there is a slow but steady movement of the rural population to the cities in search of employment. Some Kenyans have emigrated to Uganda, and ethnic Somalis are present in significant numbers in Kenya's Northeastern Province.

Far-reaching migratory changes took place in the years immediately preceding and following independence. By 1961, the post-1945 trend of net European immigration was reversed, and in the three years that followed, approximately 29,000 Europeans left Kenya. Permanent emigration in 1964 reached 9,860, while permanent immigration totaled 5,406. In the first year of independence, some 6,000 Britons renounced their citizenship and applied for Kenyan citizenship; during the same period, approximately 70,000 persons living in Kenyathe majority of them Asianswere granted British passports. After the United Kingdom limited immigration by Asians in 1967, a crisis situation developed in Kenya. Work permits, without which Asians could not stay in the country beyond a limited period, were not issued, and the United Kingdom denied entry to Asians from Kenya who wanted to work in the United Kingdom. In 1973, the Kenya government served 1,500 notices of termination to Asian employees (there were 300 in 1972) and announced that by the end of 1974 it aimed to completely Kenyanize the country's retail and wholesale trade. In 1975, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry ordered the closing of 436 businesses, most of which belonged to Asians. Some 80,000 Asians were still living in Kenya at the time of the 1979 census, down from an estimated 180,000 in 1968.

In 2005, the net migration rate was -0.08 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the immigration level as too high.

Kenya's refugee population includes Somalis, Sudanese, Ethiopians, Ugandans, and a smaller group comprised of various other nationalities. The total number of refugees was reduced from 420,000 in 1992 to 187,000 in June 1998. The decrease is mainly attributable to the repatriation of more than 155,000 refugees to Somalia and 70,000 to Ethiopia.

In 2004, Kenya was host to 249,310 refugees and asylum seekers. Of these, some 239,906 were refugees, 153,620 were from Somalia, over 64,000 from Sudan, and the remainder from Ethiopia. In that same year there were also 9,404 asylum seekers from Somalia, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda. Also in 2004, over 9,000 Kenyans sought asylum in South Africa, and more than another 1,000 in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. According to Migration News, in December 2005 some 700,000 Sudanese refugees living in northwestern Kenya began to return. Since an agreement to end the fighting between southern Christians and Muslims who control the government in Sudan was signed in January 2005, already 250,000 refugees have returned.


African peoples indigenous to Kenya, who now form 98% of the population, fall into three major cultural and linguistic groups: Bantu, Nilotic, and Cushitic. Although most of the land area is occupied by Cushitic and Nilotic peoples, over 70% of the population is Bantu. The Luo, a Nilotic people, live in an area adjacent to Lake Victoria. Other NilotesTurkana, Maasai, Pokot, Nandi, Kipsigis, and Tugenoccupy a broad area in the west from Lake Rudolf to the Tanzania border. Cushites such as the Galla and Somali live in the eastern and northeastern parts of the country. The Bantu reside mainly in the coastal areas and the southwestern uplands; the most significant Bantu peoples are the Kikuyu, Kamba, and Luhya. The Kikuyu, who constitute the largest single ethnic group in Kenya, live for the most part north of Nairobi and have played a major role in the nation's political and social development. The estimated proportions of the major groups are Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, and Meru 6%. Other Africans constitute 15% of the total population. These smaller groups include the Bajuni, Kijikenda, Digo, and Nubians.

Non-Africans (Arabs, Asians, and Europeans) account for no more than 1% of the population. The Arab community is centered on the Indian Ocean coast. The Swahili, a group of mixed Arab-Africans with a cultural affinity to the Arabs, also live in the coastal region. Most Asians in Kenya have origins traceable to the Indian subcontinent; living primarily in urban centers, they consist of at least 31 culturally separate groups but make up less than 0.4% of the nation's population. The European community, which has rebounded since the 1960s, is primarily of British origin. About 12% of the Europeans hold Kenyan citizenship. A 1984 law provides that people born in Kenya of non-Kenyan parents can no longer claim Kenyan citizenship.


Although there are linguistic groupings of very similar dialects, nearly all the African ethnic groups have their own distinct languages. Swahili, however, increasingly has become an East African lingua franca, and in 1974 it became Kenya's official language, along with English. English remains in wide use in business and government, and parliamentary bills must be drafted and presented in that language. Both Gujarati and Punjabi are widely used among the Asian community.


An estimated 66% of the population are Christians with about 28% belonging to the Roman Catholic church and 38% belonging to Protestant churches. About 7% are Muslim, with many living in the Northeastern Province, the Coast Province, and the northern region of the Eastern Province. About 1% are Hindu and the remainder practice traditional religions or local branches of Christianity. As in other African states with complex religious histories and some renewal of cultural self-consciousness, it is likely that a majority of ethnic Kenyans also hold some traditional African beliefs. Foreign missionary groups include the African Inland Mission (Evangelical Protestant), the Pentecostal Assembly of Kenya, the Southern Baptist Church, and the Missionary Society of Britain (Anglican).

The current constitution provides for freedom of religion and this right is generally respected in practice. The Constitution of Kenya Review Commission submitted a draft for a new constitution in March 2004 that would specifically recognize a separation between state and religion. Christians and Muslims were debating the possibility that the new constitution would grant special recognition to the Islamic court system. Religious organizations must register with the government Registrar of Societies; some small splinter groups have had their applications denied. Certain Muslim and Christian Holidays are celebrated as national holidays.


Kenya's railway system in 2004, operated by the Kenya Railways Corp., consisted of 2,778 km (1,726 mi) of narrow gauge railway, of which over half was made up by the main line between the Ugandan border and Mombasa, the chief port.

A modern installation, the port at Mombasa serves Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, the DROC, and the Sudan as well as Kenya. A national shipping line, 70% state owned, was created in 1987. There is steamer service on Lake Victoria. In 2005, the merchant marine had three ships (1,000 GRT or over), totaling 6,049 GRT.

As of 2002, the road system comprised an estimated 63,942 km (39,771 mi), of which about 7,737 km (4,812 mi) were paved. The major road from Nairobi to Mombasa is well paved, and the government has undertaken a campaign to widen and resurface secondary roads. All-weather roads linking Kenya with the Sudan and Ethiopia have been completed. Over 80% of Kenya's total passenger and freight traffic use road transport. In 2003, there were 261,920 private passenger automobiles and 110,540 commercial vehicles.

In 2004, there were an estimated 221 airports in Kenya, only 15 of which had paved runways as of 2005. There are major international airports at Nairobi (Jomo Kenyatta) and Mombasa (Moi International). The Nairobi air terminal, opened in 1958 and expanded in 1972 to receive jumbo jets, is a continental terminus for international services from Europe, Asia, and other parts of Africa. Air travel and air freight also are accommodated at Malindi, Kisumu, and numerous smaller airstrips. Kenya Airways flies to other nations of East Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. In 2003, about 1.678 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.


Fossil remains show that humanlike creatures lived in the area of Lake Rudolf perhaps two million years ago. As early as the third millennium bc, cattle were being herded in what is now northern Kenya. Sometime in the first millennium bc, food-producing Cushitic-speaking peoples, possibly from the Ethiopian highlands, appeared in Kenya. During the Iron Age ( 1000), the first Bantu speakers arrived, probably from points south and west, resulting in the retreat of Cushitic speakers. The Nilotic speakers entered at the end of the 16th century from the north or north-west, from southern Sudan, and perhaps from the western Ethiopian borderland.

After their arrival, most groups settled into a pattern of slow and gradual movement highlighted by spurts of expansionist activity. For example, the Eastern Bantu (Kikuyu, Meru, Kamba, Pokomo, Teita, and Bajuni), possibly after settling in the area between Lamu and the Juba River, dispersed throughout southern and coastal Kenya. By 1400, the Kikuyu had reached the area near Mt. Kenya; they were joined there by the Meru in the 1750s. The Western Bantu (Luhya and Gusii) developed from an influx of Kalenjin (15981625) and Bantu (15981733) migrants. Other peoples, including the Luo, developed a strong ethnic identity and protected themselves from intruders. But as their population increased between 1750 and 1800, conflict arose, clans broke down, and another wave of migration ensued.

The Cushitic and Nilotic peoples (represented by Kalenjin ancestors of the Pokot, Nandi, Kipsigis, Kony, and Tugen) and others (such as the Turkana, Teso, and Galla) participated in independent movements beginning in the 16th century and lasting into the 18th. By 1800, the Kamba, acting as the chief carriers and gobetweens, dominated an extensive intergroup long-distance trade network that linked the interior to the East African coast. The last migrants into the country were the Somali, who did not enter northeastern Kenya in great numbers until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Meanwhile, another set of migrants settled on the Indian Ocean coast. As in the interior, the newcomers replaced the original hunter-gatherer inhabitants. In the period prior to the birth of Christ, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Persians, and possibly even Indonesians visited the coast. By the 10th century the Bantu had settled the coastal region in what the Arabs called the Land of the Zenj (blacks). As the area flourished, a mixed population of Arabs and Africans combined in creating the Swahili culture, a culture marked by its own language, a devotion to Islam, and the development of numerous coastal trade centers. Swahili cities such as Kilwa, Mombasa, and Pate remained independent of one another and of foreign control and, although they had little contact with the interior, grew wealthy from their mercantile contacts with India and Arabia.

Throughout the 16th century, following Vasco da Gama's landing at Malindi in 1498, the coastal cities struggled to remain independent of the external threats posed first by the Portuguese and then by the Omani Arabs. Although the Portuguese established posts and gained a monopoly of the trade along the Kenya coast, the Arabs eventually succeeded in driving out the Portuguese and reestablishing Arab authority in 1740. Independent Arab settlements persisted for a century until, during the rule (180656) of Sayyid Sa'id, a kind of unity was established. Arab control even in the 19th century continued to be confined to the coastal belt, however. In 1840, Sayyid Sa'id moved the capital of his sultanate to Zanzibar.

Europeans began to assert their influence in East Africa. After jostling with the Germans and the Italians for Zanzibari favors, the British emerged with a concession for the Kenya coast in 1887. European penetration of the interior had begun decades earlier with the explorations of two German missionaries, Johannes Rebmann and Johann Ludwig Krapf, in 184749, and by the English explorer John Hanning Speke at Lake Victoria in 1858. In 1886, the United Kingdom and Germany reached agreement on their respective spheres of influence in East Africa, and the Imperial British East African Company, a private concern, began establishing its authority in the interior two years later. In 1890, a definitive Anglo-German agreement was signed, and arrangements were made with the sultan of Zanzibar for protection to be extended to his mainland holdings. When the company failed in 1895, the United Kingdom assumed direct control over the "East African Protectorate". In December 1901, the railway linking Mombasa with Lake Victoria was completed, and in the following year the boundary between Kenya and Uganda was shifted some 320 km (200 mi) westward to its present position. European and Asian settlement followed the building of the railway, and by World War I the modern development of Kenya was clearly evident. In 1920 the protectorate, with the exception of the coastal strip (later ceded by Zanzibar), was declared a crown colony.

In the interwar years, the major challenge to European political power came from Asians who wanted equality with Europeans in governmental representative institutions. This challenge was successfully resisted, but in the postwar period a more dynamic threat came from African nationalism.

The Struggle for Independence

Africans made use of both legal and nonlegal methods in their struggle for power with the Europeans. The first efforts ended in the eruption of the Mau Mau movement, and a state of emergency was declared in October 1952. Supported primarily by the Kikuyu, Embu, and Meru tribes of Central Province, Mau Mau was a secretive insurrectionary movement that rejected the European domination over Kenya. The emergency lasted until late 1959, and cost over uk£55 million. At one time, more than 79,000 Africans were detained, and about 13,000 civilians (almost all African) were killed.

During the initial period of the emergency in 1954, the "Lyttelton" multiracial constitution was imposed on Kenyan political groups unable to agree among themselves. It provided both for African and Asian participation in a council of ministers with Europeans, and a system of communal representation for each racial group, with a formula of equality of representation in legislative and executive institutions between Europeans and non-Europeans. The introduction of direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council in 1957 was their first outstanding political gain. With the 1960 "Macleod" constitution came an African-elected majority in the Legislative Council; this represented a decisive shift in the direction of an African-controlled state of Kenya. Rapid advancement toward self-government and independence under African leadership was delayed, however, because of conflicts between the two major African political parties over the future constitutional structure of the country. A constitutional conference in London in early 1962 produced a "framework" constitution, which included formation of a national government representing both political parties. Following new national elections under this constitution in May 1963, Kenya became self-governing on 1 June. On 12 December 1963, Kenya became independent. Exactly one year later it became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations, with Jomo Kenyatta as the country's first president. His political party, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), dominated the government, and leaders of a rival party, banned in 1969, were detained. On the other hand, some electoral choice was permitted: although all parliamentary candidates in 1969, 1974, and 1979 were KANU members, more than half the incumbents were unseated in the balloting.

An East African Community united Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda in a common market and customs union until it was dissolved in 1977. Kenya has maintained remarkable political stability, despite territorial disputes with the Somali Democratic Republic, which resulted in sporadic fighting (19631968); and with Uganda (1970s). Tanzania closed its borders with Kenya between 1978 and 1983 because Kenya allegedly harbored Idi Amin's supporters after his fall.

Kenyatta died on 22 August 1978 and was succeeded by his vice president, Daniel Arap Moi, who was elected president without opposition a month later. In June 1982, the National Assembly voted unanimously to make Kenya formally a one-party state. On 1 August 1982, a group of junior air force officers, supported by university students and urban workers, attempted a military coup. Looting in Nairobi, particularly of Asian-owned stores, continued for days. This resulted in more than 500 people reported killed, dissolution of the entire 2,100-member air force, closing of Nairobi University, jailing of almost 1,000 persons, conviction and sentencing to death of 12 conspirators in the following months, and their reported execution in 1985. President Moi ran unopposed in the elections of September 1983; in the National Assembly voting during the same month, five cabinet ministers and 40% of all incumbents went down to defeat.

In 1986, Moi declared that KANU was above government, the parliament and the judiciary. Critics of Moi, even within KANU, were expelled from the party and government repression widened. Many opposition leaders were detained in July 1990 and in 1991 (including former vice president, Oginga Odinga), and clashes between pro-democracy demonstrators and police left five dead.

The Advent of Multiparty Democracy

As pressures mounted for political reform, the United States and 11 other donor nations pressed Moi to reduce government corruption, to improve its poor human rights record, and to institute economic reforms. In 1991, these donors withheld more than $350 million in aid. In December 1991, Moi and his party legalized multiparty politics, but opposition to Moi and civil unrest continued. Ethnic violence from 1991 to 1994 in the Rift Valley left over 3,000 Kikuyu and Luo dead, allegedly the work of "trained warriors" from Moi's ethnic group. In 1993, Africa Watch, a US-based human rights group, reported that as many as 1,500 Kenyans have been killed and over 300,000 displaced as a result of ethnic violence instigated by Moi's regime in the Rift Valley. In the lead-up to the 1997 general elections, ethnic fighting flared up in Mombassa, claiming over 42 lives. The death toll of these clashes pales in comparison to the Hutu-Tutsi genocide, but the social friction they have caused provided Moi with what he termed "proof" that the country is too fractured along tribal lines to allow true multiparty democracy.

In Nairobi in January 1992, more than 100,000 attended the first legal antigovernment rally in 22 years. Through the years, the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD) had emerged as the main opposition. But a conflict between Kenneth Matiba and Odinga signaled ethnic divisions in the run-up to elections required by 21 March 1993. Moi, exploiting those weaknesses, delayed the elections until December. The opposition, divided into eight parties, saw its initial support fade away. Although the late December elections were generally peaceful, Matiba, Odinga, and Mwai Kibaki, of the Democratic Party of Kenya, refused to accept the results. Moi was reelected with 37% of the vote; Matiba had 26%, Kibaki 19%, and Odinga 17%. For the National Assembly, KANU won 100 of the 188 seats; FORD-Kenya, 31; FORD-Asili, 31; and DP, 23. However, many of Moi's cabinet ministers were defeated in their parliamentary contests.

Moi continued to demonstrate his authoritarianism in 1994 and 1995, as opposition groups struggled among themselves to present a united front. Moi's overtly heavy security apparatus stepped up internal oppression, leading the Kenyan Human Rights Commission to report that in the first nine months of 1995, security forces murdered 74 Kenyans in detention, 12 of whom were killed by torture. Violence conducted by unofficial Moi-supported gangs continued as well.

Despite this, opposition forces became vocal as the 1997 elections neared, demanding constitutional reform. Primary among the demands was a constitutional convention and at the very least parliamentary action limiting the powers of the president, and an electoral reform providing for a runoff election if no presidential candidate received more than 50% of the votea virtual certainty. Moi, elected with only 36% of the vote in 1992, publicly acknowledged the need for such reforms, but repeatedly postponed any action. This further inflamed opposition parties, and as protests grew more violent, Moi's repression followed suit. By 9 September 1997, over 70 people had been killed in demonstrations, including 7 protestors killed by police in July in a massive Nairobi demonstration that saw police beating religious leaders inside the Kenya Presbyterian Church at midday. Images of bloodied clerics fleeing armed mobs in the international media outlets led to harsher criticism, further marginalization, escalating civil unrest, and violence. Moi refused to concede to opposition demands, insisting that democratic reforms would lead to the splintering of the country.

On 29 and 30 December 1997, Kenyans went to the polls without constitutional or electoral reform. Again, early hopes of a united opposition victory were dashed as divisions reemerged. Over nine parties split the opposition vote. Moi was reelected with 40% of the vote; Mwai Kibaki of the Democratic Party (DP) had 31%; National Democratic Party's (RDP) Raila Odinga had 11%; FORD-Kenya's M.K. Wamalwa had 8%; and Charity Kaluki Ngilu of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) had about 8%. Of the 210 seats of the National Assembly, KANU won 108; DP, 39; NDP, 21; FORD-Kenya, 17; SDP, 15; Safina and three other parties shared 7 seats.

Following the 1997 elections, civil unrest continued, crime and corruption increased, while the AIDS pandemic claimed at least 600 lives per day. In February 2000 the British Foreign Office minister in charge of Africa, Peter Hain, referred to corruption in Kenya as "the economic equivalent of AIDS". Still, Moi managed to survive a vote of no confidence moved by opposition MPs in October 1998. After 30 months of snubbing the IMF, the Kenyan government finally resumed formal relations with the IMF and in mid-January 2000, the IMF Board voted to resume aid to Kenya. The reestablishment of the East African Common Market was expected to increase trade among the three sister countries.

The opposition and civil society coalesced over the issue of constitutional reform. Bowing to mounting pressure and civil unrest, Moi finally consented to a Constitutional Review Commission Amendment Act, which became effective on 29 January 1999. However, squabbling over who should lead the review process delayed action into 2003.

Following much speculation, Moi went on record saying he would retire at the end of his term in 2002. Although it appeared in April 2002 that elections would be postponed for a year to allow for the drafting of the constitution, the polls were held on 27 December 2002. Mwai Kibaki's landslide victory with 62.2% of the vote over Moi's hand-picked candidate Uhuru Kenyatta with 31.3% ended 24 years of KANU rule under Moi. In the parliamentary vote, Kibaki's National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) won 125 directly elected and seven appointed seats for a total of 132 seats, compared to 64 directly elected and 4 appointed seats for KANU in a parliament of 224 seats. Overall the polls were judged peaceful, free, and fair. The next elections were scheduled to be held in 2007.

President Kibaki campaigned on a policy of generating economic growth, improving education, combating corruption, and implementing a new constitution. With international aid flowing back into Kenya, there have been some major achievements with reference to economic growth and improvements in the educational system. However, the constitutional process proceeded much slower due to disagreements between the partners in the current coalition government. The Democratic Party (DP) led by Kibaki and National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK) faction allied with Kibaki, favored a strong centralized presidential system, while the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) factionwith fewer parliamentary seats in the coalition than the other two partiesprefered a federal parliamentary system with a strong prime minister while weakening the role of the president.

Raila Odinga, the leader of LDP, had hopes to become prime minister but the proposed new constitution was modified by the government during the Moi regime. The amendments retain a strong president, who controls a weaker prime minister. This resulted in a split between NAK and LDP, with the former campaigning for a "Yes" vote in the referendum on the constitution and the latter a "No". Uhuru Kenyatta's KANU party, which ruled Kenya for most of the postindependence era until its ouster in the 2002 elections was also vigorously campaigning for a "No" vote to the modified constitution. It was thought by some that the political wrangling and alignment over the referendum for the new constitution would imply a wider realignment before the 2007 elections. In addition to these disagreements, there was also a lack of progress in tackling the problem of corruption and the donor nations, particularly the British, strongly criticized the Kibaki government for lack of progress on this front.


According to the constitution of 1963, as subsequently amended, the government of Kenya is led by a president who is chief of state, head of government, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected to serve a five-year term; he may, however, dissolve the National Assembly during his term, or the National Assembly may dissolve itself by a vote of no confidence, in which case a new presidential election must also be held. The president appoints the members of the cabinet (the vice president and the heads of the various ministries) from among members of the Assembly. The Assembly is barred by edict of the speaker from debating the conduct of the president. The cabinet is carefully balanced to maintain a multiethnic image, and the allocation of assistant ministerships is part of the communally arranged patronage system.

The unicameral National Assemblyestablished when the Senate and House of Representatives were merged by constitutional amendment in 1967consisted in October 2005 of 210 members elected for a maximum term of five years, plus 12 national members nominated by the president and selected by parties in proportion to their parliamentary vote totals. In addition, the speaker of the Assembly and the attorney general are ex-officio members. Technically, MPs are allowed to introduce legislation, but in fact it is the attorney general who does so. Suffrage is universal at age 18.

The constitution recognizes the principle of maximum allocation of governmental powers to local authorities, and provision is made for the establishment of provincial assemblies with local administrative powers. The central government may abridge or extend the powers of local government in the national interest. The next elections were scheduled to take place in 2007.


Following a constitutional conference at Lancaster House in London in February 1960, two national African parties were formed, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) and the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU). The fundamental difference between the two parties resided in the fact that KANU tended to represent those persons and tribes that were most closely associated with an urban-oriented nationalism and sought a highly centralized political system for Kenya, while KADU represented the more rural and pastoral tribes, who feared a concentration of power by any central government. The political conflicts between these two parties tended to become identified with tribalism, since each party had a core group of tribes committed to it. In the national elections of May 1963, KANU won a majority of seats in both houses of parliament, and its leader, Jomo Kenyatta, assumed power. KADU dissolved itself voluntarily in 1964 and joined KANU.

Since 1964, KANU has dominated Kenyan politics. In March 1966, 30 KANU members of the House announced that they had formed an opposition party, later named the Kenya People's Union (KPU), led by Oginga Odinga, a Luo, who had resigned his post as vice president. By-elections for the 30 seats, held in June 1966, resulted in the KPU's retention of only 9. In July 1969, Tom Mboya, the minister of economic planning, was assassinated. His death touched off old animosities between his tribe, the Luo, and the politically dominant Kikuyu, to which Kenyatta belonged. The government used the pretext of the assassination to ban the KPU and jail Odinga and other opposition leaders. In the 1969 elections, Kenyattawho ran unopposedand the KANU slate were returned to power. All parliamentary candidates also were KANU members in 1974 and 1979; however, there were many more candidates than constituencies, and in all three elections a majority of incumbents were unseated.

Following reports that Odinga, who had been freed in 1971, was planning to form a new, Socialist-oriented party, the National Assembly on 9 June 1982 declared Kenya a one-party state. In the wake of the attempted coup that August, Odinga was again detained, and treason charges were brought against his son, Raila Odinga, dean of the engineering school of the University of Nairobi. The treason charges were later dropped, but Oginga Odinga remained under house arrest from November 1982 to October 1983. By that time, presidential and parliamentary elections had been held, with some 900 KANU members vying for the 158 elective seats.

A clandestine dissident group known as Mwakenya was founded in 1981. In 1986, 44 persons were being held in connection with this group, 37 of whom were convicted of sedition. Other underground opposition groups emerged in the 1980s and in 1987 many joined to form the United Movement for Democracy (UMOJA, Swahili for unity).

In December 1991, the Moi government decided to end KANU's monopoly on legal political activity. A grand coalition known as the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD) was formed, but, before the December 1992 election, it fragmented into two factionsFORD-Kenya, headed by Oginga Odinga and FORD-Asili, led by Kenneth Matiba. The Democratic Party of Kenya (DP) was headed by Mwai Kibaki and the Kenya National Congress (KNC) by Chilube wa Tsuma. Three other parties were active, even in the face of persecution by Moi's police. In particular, government prevented opposition MPs, domestic and international human rights figures, and journalists from entering the security zones of the Rift Valley, where the government conducted a policy of ethnic cleansing against the area's non-Kalenjin population. In 1993 alone, the KANU-led government arrested 36 of the 85 opposition MPs.

In the run-up to the scheduled 1997 elections, opposition parties made a brief attempt at unity with the formation in 1995 of the united National Democratic Alliance. Factional bickering, however, rendered it stillborn. Also in 1995, the Safina Party was founded by Richard Leakey, the world-renowned paleoanthropologist and former head of the Kenya Wildlife Service, a post for which he was handpicked by President Moi. Leakey intended to organize an umbrella opposition party, but Moi promptly banned Safina. By 1996, however, several opposition parties had tentatively acknowledged their support of Safina. By March 1997 there were 26 registered political parties, but only 10 won parliamentary seats in the 1997 elections judged as fairly credible.

In the run-up to the 27 December 2002 elections, the opposition led by Mwai Kibaki organized a grand electoral alliance of four parties, the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). The four parties in this coalition were Democratic Party led by Mwai Kibaki, Forum for the Restoration of Democracy-Kenya, Liberal Democratic Party, and National Party of Kenya. This coalition was victorious in the December 2002 elections, which saw Mwai Kibaki being elected president of Kenya, defeating Uhuru Kenyatta. The seats won by party were as follows: NARC 125, KANU 64, FORD-P 14, and other 7; ex-officio 2; seats appointed by the president: NARC 7, KANU 4, and FORD-P 1.


Kenya is divided into seven provinces: Coast, Northeastern, Eastern, Central, Rift Valley, Nyanza, and Western. (The Nairobi area is separate and has special status.) These are subdivided into 63 districts, each headed by a presidentially appointed commissioner; provincial administration is closely supervised by the central government. There are two types of upper local authorities (municipalities and county councils) and four types of lower authorities (urban councils, township authorities, area councils, and local councils). The Nairobi area, administered by a city council, is the direct responsibility of the central government. Many of the councils raise their own revenues by taxes, construct and maintain roads, carry out public health schemes, construct and improve housing, support education, and provide agricultural and social welfare services.


The legal system is based on the 1963 constitution, the Judicature Act of 1967, and common law court precedent. Kenya accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations. Customary law, to the extent it does not conflict with statutory law, is used as a guide in civil matters concerning persons of the same ethnic group.

The judicial system consists of the Court of Appeal, which has final appellate jurisdiction, and subordinate courts. The High Court, sitting continuously at Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, and Kisumu, and periodically at Eldoret, Kakamega, Nyeri, Kitale, Kisii, and Meru, consists of a chief justice and 24 associate judges, who are appointed by the president of the republic. The High Court has both civil and criminal jurisdiction, serving as an appellate tribunal in some cases and as a court of first instance in others. Lower courts are presided over by resident magistrates and district magistrates. Questions of Islamic law are determined by qadis' courts. Military courts handle court-martials of military personnel.

Although the constitution provides for an independent judiciary, the president has considerable influence over the judiciary. The president appoints the High Court Judges with the advice of the Judicial Service Commission. The president also has authority to dismiss judges, the attorney general, and other officials upon recommendation of a tribunal appointed by the president.


Until 1963, Kenya's defense was the responsibility of the United Kingdom. On 10 December 1963, the withdrawal of British armed forces from Kenya was completed.

In 2005, Kenyan armed forces had 24,120 active personnel. The Army of 20,000 was equipped with 78 main battle tanks. The Navy had 1,620 personnel, including 120 Marines, and was equipped with four patrol/coastal vessels. The Air Force had 2,500 personnel, 29 combat capable aircraft, including 9 fighters, and 11 attack helicopters. The 5,000-member national police had general service, air, and naval paramilitary units. Kenya contributed personnel to nine international peacekeeping missions, mainly in other African nations. In 2005, the defense budget totaled $288 million.


On 16 December 1963, Kenya became a member of the United Nations; the nation participates in ECA and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as UNESCO UNHCR, IAEA, FAO, IRC, IMO, the World Bank, and WHO. Kenya is also a member of the African Development Bank, the ACP Group, the Commonwealth of Nations, COMESA, G-15, G-77, the WTO, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and the African Union. President Daniel Arap Moi was OAU chairman during 198182 and 198283. Nairobi has become increasingly important as a headquarters for international agencies (including the secretariat of the UN Environment Program) and as a convention center for world organizations.

On 26 June 1980, Kenya signed an agreement with the United States allowing the latter access to air and naval facilities at Mombasa. Since the US embassy bombings in August 1998, the World Trade Center attacks on 11 September 2001, and the November 2002 hotel bombing in Mombasa, the two nations have solidified their common front against international terrorism. The administration of US president George W. Bush designated Kenya a strategic regional pillar in the American national security strategy, and renewed airbase, port access, and overflight agreements with the Kenyan government. In December 2002, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld traveled to the region. Kenya receives 75% ($15 million of $20 million) of the funding authorized by the US Congress for counterterrorism in Africa.

The Kenyan government has played a key role in peace negotiations regarding the civil war in Sudan. On 9 January 2005, a Sudan North-South Comprehensive Peace Accord was signed in Nairobi. Likewise, the government has participated in negotiations to reinstate a central government authority in Somalia.

In environmental cooperation, Kenya is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.


Kenya's is an agricultural economy supported by a manufacturing sector, much of which dates from the pre-independence period, and a tourism sector, which is an important foreign exchange earner. Kenya has few mineral resources. Although Kenya is one of the most industrialized countries in East Africa, industry only accounts for around 13% of GDP. Kenya has a drought-prone agricultural sector in which maize is a principal staple crop, along with tuberscassava, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. There is a shortage of arable landonly 12% is first-quality farm landand little irrigation. Nonetheless, the country exports tea, coffee, cut flowers, and vegetables. Tea exports provide the largest share of foreign exchange earnings, followed by tourism. Horticultural produce and tea are Kenya's two single most valuable exports, accounting for 25% and 23% respectively of domestic exports in 2004. Coffee exports were the third-largest source of foreign exchange earnings in 2002, due to a decline in world coffee prices and a decline in production, which was caused in part by mismanagement. However, coffee has declined in importance owing to the slump in world prices, and accounted for just 4.4% of domestic exports in 2004.

Kenya had one of Africa's strongest economies in the 1980s, posting growth rates of 5% annually. Kenya's economic performance was below potential in the 1990s owing to a variety of problems, including intermittent drought, poor economic management, rampant corruption, a lack of investment, a deteriorating infrastructure, and on-off donor relations. GDP per capita fell and poverty climbed. In the early 1990s, political turmoil and poor harvests slowed growth. Disagreements over the direction of future investments led to a suspension of foreign aid in 1992 resulting in low growth and high inflation. Under a structural adjustment program supported by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1993, Kenya strengthened its free market by abolishing price controls, removing import licensing requirements, and floating the currency. The end of most financial controls occurred in 1995. These reforms, together with a strong harvest, helped the economy to expand by 3% in 1994, 5% in 1995, and 4% in 1996.

In 1997 a drought caused continuing power interruptions, slowed business and manufacturing, and cast doubts on the country's ability to sustain growth. Flooding during 1998 caused industry slowdowns. At the same time, government corruption was threatening $200 million in direct aid from the IMF and World Bank. The donor agencies' concern with official corruption was heightened in early 1996 when they learned that the government's request for a $50-million low interest loan coincided with its purchase of a $50-million private jet for the president. The purchase of the jet was a nonbudgeted expenditure hidden from the World Bank auditors. In August 1997, the IMF and World Bank, tired of Kenya's failure to clamp down on graft, ended talks on resuming aid, a move that resulted in cuts in bilateral aid programs. The government initiated its own Economic Recovery Strategy in September 1999 to improve public sector management.

Another drought in 19992000 caused water and energy to be rationed and reduced agricultural output. The IMF again provided loans to guide Kenya through the drought, but suspended them in 2001 when the government failed to implement anticorruption measures. Although ample rains returned in 2001, corruptioncompounded with low investment and weak commodity pricesprevented any increase in economic growth. The new government installed after the elections of December 2002 committed itself to providing adequate education, a zero tolerance for corruption, and an economic environment conducive to domestic and foreign investment. However, the Kenyan economy continued to stagnate in 2002, real GDP growing by just 1.1%, compared with 1.2% in 2001. The sluggish performance was blamed on a number of factors, including election uncertainties, the continued suspension of donor assistance, low investor confidence, and the continuing deterioration in Kenya's infrastructure, which inflates business costs. The rise in oil prices in the second half of 2002 also did not help.

Despite hopes of an economic revival under the reform-minded Kibaki regime, economic growth continued to be sluggish in 2003, partly because of delays in securing a new agreement with the IMF. Real GDP growth increased to 2.8% in 2003, compared with 0.4% in 2002. In 2004 official data indicated that real GDP growth had increased to 4.3%. However, the average GDP growth for 200004 still remains modest, at 2.5% annually. The main contributors to real GDP growth of 4.3% in 2004 were transport and communications, wholesale and retail trade, and restaurants and hotels, all of which grew considerably faster than in 2003. The recovery continued to gain ground in 2005 with a 5.2% growth in GDP. This reflected a solid rise in international trade, the rapid roll-out of mobile phones, and a strong recovery in tourism.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Kenya's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $39.5 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $1,200. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 12%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 16.3% of GDP, industry 18.8%, and services 65.1%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $494 million or about $15 per capita and accounted for approximately 3.4% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $483 million or about $15 per capita and accounted for approximately 3.4% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Kenya totaled $10.60 billion or about $332 per capita based on a GDP of $14.4 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 19902003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 2.1%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 31% of household consumption was spent on food, 21% on fuel, 2% on health care, and 8% on education. It was estimated that in 2000 about 50% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


In 2005, Kenya's labor force numbered an estimated 11.85 million. In 2003, agriculture accounted for an estimated 75% of the workforce in this impoverished country. As of 2001 (the latest year for which data was available), the unemployment rate was estimated at 40%.

The trade union movement is strong in Kenya and continues to pressure the government for better wages and improved living standards. However, union activity can result in dismissal or discrimination for employees. Complex rules severely limit the right to strike. The principal labor federation is the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU). Except for the 150,000200,000 teachers believed to be members of Kenya National Union of Teachers and three other smaller unions, all unions are affiliated with the COTU. COTU, however, does little to pursue workers' rights. There were some 41 unions in Kenya with approximately 600,000 workers in 2001, or about 33% of the country's industrialized workforce.

The minimum legal working age is 16, however this does not apply to the agricultural segment which accounts for 80% of the labor force. The number of child laborers was estimated at five million in 2002. The minimum wage ranged between $25 and $42 per month in 2002, depending on location, age, and skill level.


Agriculture remains the most important economic activity in Kenya, although less than 8% of the land is used for crop and feed production. Less than 20% of the land is suitable for cultivation, of which only 12% is classified as high potential (adequate rainfall) agricultural land and about 8% is medium potential land. The rest of the land is arid or semiarid. About 80% of the work force engages in agriculture or food processing. Farming in Kenya is typically carried out by small producers who usually cultivate no more than two hectares (about five acres) using limited technology. These small farms, operated by about three million farming families, account for 75% of total production. Although there are still important European-owned coffee, tea, and sisal plantations, an increasing number of peasant farmers grow cash crops.

From independence in 1963 to the oil crisis in 1973, the agricultural sector expanded by undergoing two basic changes: first, widespread acceptance of private ownership (replacing tribal ownership) and cash crop farming; second, the success of intensive nationwide efforts to expand and upgrade the production of African smallholders. Before World War II (193945) ended, agricultural development occurred almost exclusively in the "White Highlands," an area of some 31,000 sq km (12,000 sq mi) allocated to immigrant white settlers and plantation companies. Since independence, as part of a land consolidation and resettlement policy, the Kenya government, with financial aid from the United Kingdom, has gradually transferred large areas to African ownership. European-owned agriculture remains generally large-scale and almost entirely commercial.

After the 1973 oil crisis, agricultural growth slowed as less untapped land became available. Government involvement in marketing coupled with inefficient trade and exchange rate policies discouraged production during the 1970s. Coffee production booms in the late 1970s and in 1986 have in the past temporarily helped the economy in its struggle away from deficit spending and monetary expansion. Although the expansion of agricultural export crops has been the most important factor in stimulating economic development, much agricultural activity is also directed toward providing food for domestic consumption. Kenya's agriculture is sufficiently diversified to produce nearly all of the nation's basic foodstuffs. To some extent, Kenya also helps feed neighboring countries.

Kenya is Africa's leading tea producer, and was fourth in the world in 2004, behind China, India, and Sri Lanka. Black tea is Kenya's leading agricultural foreign exchange earner. Production in 2004 reached 295,000 tons. Tea exports were valued at $463.7 million in 2004, or over 17% of total exports. The tea industry is divided between small farms and large estates. The small-scale sector, with more than 260,000 farmers, is controlled by the parastatal Kenya Tea Development Authority. The estates, consisting of 6075 private companies, operate on their own.

Coffee is Kenya's third leading foreign exchange earner, after tourism and tea. In 2004, coffee earnings totaled $89.1 million. Production in 2005/06 amounted to an estimated 60,120 tons. Similar to the tea sector, coffee is produced on many small farms and a few large estates. All coffee is marketed through the parastatal Coffee Board of Kenya. The suspension of the economic provisions of the International Coffee Agreement in July 1989 disrupted markets temporarily, driving coffee prices to historical lows.

Kenyan horticulture has become prominent in recent years, and is now the third leading agricultural export, following tea and coffee. Fresh produce accounted for about 30% of horticultural exports, and included green beans, onions, cabbages, snow peas, avocados, mangoes, and passion fruit. Flowers exported include roses, carnations, statice, astromeria, and lilies.

Kenya is the world's largest producer and exporter of pyrethrum, a flower that contains a substance used in pesticides. The pyrethrum extract, known as pyrethrin, is derived from the flower's petals. A drop in production during the mid-1990s was due to increasing production costs, disease damage, and slow payment by the parastatal Pyrethrum Board of Kenya. The growing demand for "organic" and "natural" pesticides has increased international demand for pyrethrin, despite the existence of synthetic chemical substitutes. Kenya also produces sisal, tobacco, and bixa annatto (a natural food coloring agent) for export. In 2004, Kenya's pyrethrum production was 8,000 tons, 60% of the world total.

Other important crops in 2004 were sugarcane, 4,661,000 tons; corn, 2,138,000 tons; wheat, 300,000 tons; rice, 50,000 tons; and cotton, 5,000 tons. Smallholders grow most of the corn and also produce significant quantities of potatoes, beans, peas, sorghum, sweet potatoes, cassava, bananas, and oilseeds.


In 2005 there were an estimated 12 million head of cattle, 10 million sheep, and 12 million goats. The number of chickens was estimated at 26 million. Kenya is self-sufficient in red meat production. Most of the beef comes from culling the dairy cattle, and from zebu breeds used by pastoralists moving their herds around Kenya's vast arid and semiarid areas. Total meat production in 2005 was 495,000 tons, with beef accounting for 65%.

Milk production is adequate for domestic needs; in 2005, fresh whole cow milk production amounted to 2,964,700 tons. Milk production is concentrated in the Rift Valley and Central Provinces. Together, these two provinces contain about 80% of Kenya's dairy cattle population. Dairy production accounts for about 12% of the total value of agricultural output. About 300,000 small dairy farmers produce 80% of the milk.


Commercial fishing takes place on the coast of the Indian Ocean and on the shores of lakes Baringo, Naivasha, Rudolf, and Victoria. In the Victoria region, commercial companies process and package filleted and frozen lake fish, which are sold throughout East Africa. Fish farms have been established in various parts of Kenya. Sportsmen who fish in the highland lakes and streams provide a small amount of government revenue in the form of licenses and fees. The total fish catch for 2003 was 120,799 tons. Freshwater fish, particularly from Lake Victoria, predominated; the inland catch was 113,704 tons. Exports of fish products were valued at $57.3 million in 2003.


Both hardwoods and softwoods are produced in Kenya. The chief hardwoods are musheragi, muiri, mukeo, camphor, and musaise. The chief softwoods are podo, cedar, and cypress. The supply of softwoods is adequate for local needs, both for building and other purposes. Wattle, grown mainly on small African plantations, provides the base of an important industry. Kenya maintains some 2,320,000 hectares (5,733,000 acres) in indigenous forests, mangroves, and forest plantations, about 4% of the total land area. Total forest and woodland coverage is about 30%. The timber cut in 2004 was 22.2 billion cu m (784 billion cu ft) of roundwood, of which 92% went for fuel. Production that year included 147,000 tons of paper and paperboard and 98,000 tons of wood pulp. In 1975, production of the first Kenya-made paper began at the Pan-African Paper Mills in Webuye.


Kenya is chiefly known for its production of fluorspar, limestone, gemstones, salt, soapstone, and soda ash. Cement was a leading industry and export commodity in 2003. National output of crude salt was estimated at 19,000 metric tons in 2003. Fluorspar (acid-grade) production was reported at 95,278 metric tons in the same year. Also in 2003, an estimated 750,000 tons of limestone were produced for cement. Kenya also produced secondary aluminum, anhydrite, barite, natural carbon dioxide gas, hydraulic cement, diatomite, feldspar, precious and semiprecious gemstones (amethyst, aquamarine, Iolite cordierite, green garnet, ruby, sapphire, and tourmaline), gold, gypsum, kaolin, refined secondary lead, lime, petroleum refinery products, crude steel, coral, granite, marble, industrial sand (glass), shale, sulfuric acid, and vermiculite. There are several gold deposits in the country.


Kenya has no known reserves of oil, natural gas, or coal. As a result, the country must rely upon imports to meet its fossil fuel needs.

In 2002, Kenya's imports of petroleum products, including crude oil, averaged 56,830 barrels per day, of which crude oil accounted for 29,860 barrels per day. Domestic production of refined petroleum products averaged 33,390 barrels per day. Domestic demand averaged 51,170 barrels per day. Petroleum products are refined at Mombasa both for export and for domestic use. Oil prospecting continues along the Indian Ocean coast and offshore, but prospects of a commercially viable strike seem remote after roughly 40 years of exploration.

There were no imports of natural gas in 2002. Imports and the consumption of coal (all hard coal), each came to 109,000 short tons in 2002.

The majority of Kenya's electric power generating capacity is based upon hydropower. In 2002, the country's generating capacity came to 1.129 million kW, of which hydropower accounted for 0.675 million kW, and conventional thermal for 0.409 million kW. Geothermal/other capacity came to 0.045 million kW. Kenya's geothermal resources along the Great Rift Valley have been tapped by a plant near Lake Naivasha. National generation of electricity in 2002 totaled 4.417 billion kWh, of which 21.7% was from fossil fuels, about 70% from hydropower, and the remainder from other renewable sources. Consumption of electricity in 2000 was 4.4 billion kWh. In 2002, demand declined slightly to 4.346 billion kWh.


Industry accounted for 13% of GDP in 2000, which in 2005 had declined to 10%. The reason for the decline or slow growth in manufacturing was an increasingly high-cost environment, owing to the deterioration in the transport infrastructure, expensive electricity, and poor governance (including overregulation and corruption). In order to bolster manufacturing, the government of Mwai Kibaki introduced favorable tax measures in the 2003/04 budget (including the removal of duty on capital equipment and other raw materials).

Although Kenya's manufacturing industries are small, they are the most sophisticated in East Africa. The manufacturing sector has been growing since the late 1990s and into the new century. The manufactures Kenya produces are relatively diverse. The transformation of agricultural raw materials, particularly of coffee and tea, remains the principal industrial activity. Meat and fruit canning, wheat flour and cornmeal milling, and sugar refining are also important. Electronics production, vehicle assembly, publishing, and soda ash processing are all significant parts of the sector. Assembly of computer components began in 1987. Kenya also manufactures chemicals, textiles, ceramics, shoes, beer and soft drinks, cigarettes, soap, machinery, metal products, batteries, plastics, cement, aluminum, steel, glass, rubber, wood, cork, furniture, and leather goods. It also produces a small number of trucks and automobiles. One quarter of Kenya's industrial sector is owned by UK investors; American investors are the next largest group.

Kenya has no known oil or natural gas reserves, although the government had spent $1.6 million on oil exploration by 2000. The oil refinery in Mombasa, built in 1959 and half-owned by the government, and major oil companies, typically operates at around 65% of its total capacity (averaging 95,000 barrels per day) and is supposed to serve Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, the DROC, Rwanda, Burundi, and offshore islands. Kenya deregulated its oil industry in 1994. Refinery products include gasoline, jet/turbo fuel, light diesel oil and fuel oil. The refinery's future is an important domestic issue in Kenya, and management is considering upgrading the facility rather than allowing the refinery to close.


Notable scientific institutions in Kenya include the UNESCO Regional Office for Science and Technology for Africa, in Nairobi; coffee and tea research foundations; grasslands and plant-breeding research stations; and numerous centers for medical, agricultural, and veterinary research. Medical research focuses on the study of leprosy and tuberculosis. The National Council for Science and Technology advises the government on scientific matters, and the Kenya National Academy of Sciences promotes advancement of learning and research; both organizations were founded in Nairobi in 1977. The University of Nairobi, founded in 1956, has colleges of agriculture and veterinary sciences, health sciences, architecture and engineering, and biological and physical sciences. Kenyatta University, founded in 1939 at Nairobi, has faculties of science and environmental education. Moi University, founded in 1984 in Eldoret, has faculties of forest resources and wildlife administration, science, technology, information sciences, environmental studies, health sciences, and agriculture. Edgerton University, founded in 1939 at Njoro, has faculties of agriculture and science. Other higher-education institutions include Jomo Kenyatta University College of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya Medical Training College, and Kenya Polytechnic, all in Nairobi, and five other institutes of science and technology elsewhere in the country.

In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 19% of college and university enrollments. In 2002, high technology exports totaled $35 million, or 10% of manufactured exports.


Mombasa and Nairobi, the two principal distribution centers for imported goods, are linked by rail or highway to the towns in their immediate areas. The head offices of all the leading import and export firms, mining companies, and banks, not only for Kenya but also for East Africa as a whole, are in one or the other of these two cities. Warehousing facilities are extensive in both cities. Retail outlets are generally small and are often owned and operated by a wholesaler.

Office and shop hours are generally from 8 am to 5 pm, MondayFriday, with lunchtime closing from 1 to 2 pm. Normal banking hours are 9 am to 3pm, MondayFriday. The languages of business correspondence are English, Gujarati, and Swahili.

There are a number of advertising firms. Newspapers and trade magazines are the principal advertising media, but radio and cinema advertising are increasingly used. The annual, six-day Nairobi International Trade Fair is sponsored by the Agricultural Society of Kenya for the exhibition and promotion of products from all aspects of the agricultural, food processing, and construction industries.


Kenya has a relatively diverse export profile, led by tea (28%) and horticultural products. Tea alone accounts for 17% of the world's

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 2,551.1 3,475.1 -924.0
Uganda 401.2 401.2
United Kingdom 313.1 241.3 71.8
Tanzania 199.6 199.6
Netherlands 189.3 81.4 107.9
Areas nes 185.5 185.5
Pakistan 130.9 57.3 73.6
Rwanda 79.9 79.9
Egypt 78.0 59.3 18.7
Germany 77.6 134.6 -57.0
Afghanistan 69.8 69.8
() data not available or not significant.

tea export market. Coffee follows closely (10%). Other key exports include garments, coffee, iron and steel, soda ash, fish, petroleum products, and plastics. Tourism is also an important source of revenues from foreigners.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Kenya's exports was $1.8 billion while imports totaled $3.1 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $1.3 billion. In 2004, exports climbed by 11.4%, but imports rose faster, by 21.9%, pushing the trade deficit from $1.11 billion in 2003 to $1.65 billion in 2004. According to published data, covering the 12 months to April 2005, the trade deficit widened further, to just over $2 billion as imports grew faster than exports.


Kenya acquired its first separate currency on 14 September 1966, when the initial par value for the Kenya shilling was announced by the IMF. The new coin replaced, at par value, the East African shilling, previously issued for Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda by the East African Currency Board, whose assets were divided by those nations following a June 1965 agreement.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) was established in May 1966, taking over the administration of exchange control. Because the Kenya shilling soon became the strongest currency in East Africa, a black market for it developed. A complete ban on the export or import, or destruction of hard Kenyan currency was imposed in 1971 to discourage speculation.

The powers of the CBK were greatly reduced in the early 1990s with the liberalization of the financial sector. The commercial banks are free to set their own interest and exchange rates. The shilling has effectively been a convertible currency since the government signed Article VIII of the IMF Articles of Agreement in June 1994, and thereby pledged not to permit any restrictions on current international transactions. Foreign exchange is bought and sold in the interbank market in which the CBK is merely one player, although it intervened frequently with several large transaction in late 1994 and again in mid-1995, first to halt the appreciation of the shilling and then to stem its fall. The CBK retains responsibility for issuing treasury bills and bonds to cover the government deficit.

Of the 29 commercial banks operating in Kenya in 1985, several folded during a banking crisis in 1986. In 1992, there were 15 commercial banks operating in Kenya, and in 2002, there were 48 domestic and foreign commercial banks, 6 building societies, 37 insurance companies, 7 development finance companies, over 1,500 credit unions, and the Post Office Savings Bank. The financial sector is dominated by two multinational banksthe Standard Chartered Bank and Barclays Bank of Kenya; and the parastatal banksKenya Commercial Bank and National Bank of Kenya. They have branches in Nairobi and Mombasa and at least 25 other locales throughout the country. Other commercial banks include Citibank N.A., Euro Bank, and First American Bank.

Although they depend largely on the commercial sector for credit outlay, banks have started to turn to agriculture as an outlet. Land and agricultural banks provide financial assistance to farmers in the form of long-term loans for the discharge of onerous

Current Account 67.7
     Balance on goods -1,142.6
         Imports -3,554.8
         Exports 2,412.2
     Balance on services 482.3
     Balance on income -88.2
     Current transfers 816.3
Capital Account 163.0
Financial Account 406.3
     Direct investment abroad -2.1
     Direct investment in Kenya 81.7
     Portfolio investment assets -38.6
     Portfolio investment liabilities 0.9
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets -67.4
     Other investment liabilities 431.7
Net Errors and Omissions -211.9
Reserves and Related Items -425.2
() data not available or not significant.

mortgages and the purchase of livestock, implements, fertilizer, and so forth. Short-term loans are granted for seasonal expenses.

The reputation of the banking sector has suffered from a series of scandals. The largest financial scandal in Kenyan history broke in 1993 when the CBK closed down Exchange Bank and a related company, Goldenberg International, a gold and jewelry firm. Exchange Bank was accused of failing to honor foreign exchange contracts and Goldenberg of securing privileged access to the now-scrapped export compensation scheme. The auditor-general has questioned billions of shillings of payments to Goldenberg under the scheme for gold exports that have not been proven.

In 1997, the total assets of Kenya's four largest banks was $2.8 billion, representing half of the total assets of all commercial banks. Banking sector fragility in 1999 resulted from poor management, and worsening economic conditions. In 1998, several major Kenyan banks collapsed, including Trust Bank, Reliance Bank, Prudential Bank, Bullion Bank; and the giant National Bank almost folded. In 1999, Richard Leaky was named director of the Central Bank of Kenya under pressure from the World Bank in order to stem corruption in the banking system.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $1.6 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $4.5 billion. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 16.81%.

The Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) was founded in 1965 with six members. It was one of the largest stock markets in the sub-Saharan Africa (with South Africa, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe), with market capitalization of $1.05 billion and 57 listed companies in 2001. The market received a small boost from the decision of the government to allow direct foreign investment in January 1995, but the limit on foreign ownership was 40%. The NSE index fell from 1,913.4 in 2000 to 1,355.1 at the end of 2001. As of 2004, a total of 47 companies were listed on the NSE, which had a market capitalization that year of $3.891 billion. In 2004, the NSE rose 7.6% from the previous year to 2,945.6.


Insurance companies must be registered and licensed. Categories of compulsory insurance include motor third-party liability for bodily injuries and cargo insurance for imports. The insurance regulatory body is the Ministry of Finance and Planning. There were 37 insurance companies operating in Kenya in 1999. As of 2003, the value of all direct premiums written totaled $411 million, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $304 million. Kenya's top nonlife insurer in 2001 (the latest year for which data was available) was Kenindia, with gross written nonlife premiums of $28.5 million. In that same year, the country's leading life insurer was ICEA, with gross written life premiums of $22.4 million.


The fiscal year extends from 1 July to 30 June. Due to mismanagement of public funds, government expenditures are closely watched. Nevertheless, government spending has remained around 30% of GDP since 1995. While in the past Kenya has had some problems meeting loan obligations with the IMF and the World Bank, the country was set to receive over $300 million in aid from those organizations in 2000. However, problems with internal reform forced the IMF and the World Bank to suspend those programs, and as of mid-2002 they have not been reinstated.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Kenya's central government took in revenues of approximately $3.7 billion and had expenditures of $3.8 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$165 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 67.4% of GDP. Total external debt was $7.349 billion.

Revenue and Grants 218,443 100.0%
     Tax revenue 181,924 83.3%
     Social contributions 451 0.2%
     Grants 24,080 11.0%
     Other revenue 11,989 5.5%
Expenditures 198,019 100.0%
     General public services 67,406 34.0%
     Defense 16,847 8.5%
     Public order and safety 13,615 6.9%
     Economic affairs 35,734 18.0%
     Environmental protection 1,302 0.7%
     Housing and community amenities 6,039 3.0%
     Health 10,744 5.4%
     Recreational, culture, and religion 1,136 0.6%
     Education 51,616 26.1%
     Social protection 12,548 6.3%
() data not available or not significant.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2000, the most recent year for which it had data, budgetary central government revenues were Sh218,443 million and expenditures were Sh198,019 million. The value of revenues in US dollars was us$2,868 million and expenditures us$2,831 million, based on a principal exchange rate for 2000 of us$1 = Sh 76.176 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 34.0%; defense, 8.5%; public order and safety, 6.9%; economic affairs, 18.0%; environmental protection, 0.7%; housing and community amenities, 3.0%; health, 5.4%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.6%; education, 26.1%; and social protection, 6.3%.


The resident corporate income tax rate tax in 2005 was 30%, with the rate for branches of foreign companies at 37.5%. The withholding tax on dividends payable to residents was 5%. Dividend and interest income (except on bearer instruments) paid to nonresidents, the withholding tax rates were 10% and 15%, respectively. These rates may be reduced or eliminated by the terms double tax treaties, which Kenya has with the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, Canada, India and Zambia. In 2002 the capital gains tax had been suspended but there was a compensating tax on companies which paid dividends out of untaxed profits. Royalties paid to nonresidents are subject to a 20% withholding tax. For residents, the rate falls to 5%. Insurance commissions, management and professional fees, sports and entertainment fees, and rents are also subject to taxation. Various tax incentives are offered to companies which develop and/or operate in export processing zones (EPZs).

Income tax rates on individuals are graduated, rising to a top marginal rate of 30%, down from 35% in 1996.

Since 1990, a value-added tax (VAT) has been applied to most goods and services. The standard rate as of 2005 was 16%. However, restaurant and hotel services are taxed at 14%, while medicines, newspapers, educational equipment, certain agricultural inputs and exports are zero-rated. Live animals, building materials, foodstuffs, certain financial services, some types of entertainment, land and building rentals and leases, passenger transport, and insurance are exempt. There are also local authority service taxes and a hospital insurance tax.


Most import license controls were dismantled in 1993. In 1997, an ad valorem import duty of 70% was imposed on rice, sugar, and milk. Priority items such as raw materials, spare parts, agricultural equipment, and medicines had an import tariff of only 5% in 1999. Most capital goods were imported at a tax rate of 15%. Other goods received specific allocations on the international harmonized system of product classification. The maximum tariff rate was 35%. Imports were also subject to a 18% value-added tax based on a free on board (FOB) plus duty valuation. There were also excise-taxes on alcohol and tobacco. There were few export duties. In 1999, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania signed the East African Community (EAC) treaty providing for the removal of trade barriers by 2003.

Kenya operates six export processing zones, where manufacturers gain a 10-year corporate tax holiday (25% thereafter), a 10-year withholding tax holiday on dividend remittance, duty and VAT exemption on all imports except motor vehicles, and exemption from most other regulatory schemes. The Manufacturing Under Bond (MUB) program gives similar incentives to companies not located in the export processing zones.


In 1964, in the wake of independence, foreign investment in Kenya went down considerably. In a move to reverse this trend, the government issued a white paper in 1965 welcoming foreign investment and encouraging joint ventures. Foreign investments in 1965 totaled $30 million, rising to $52 million in 1971. The pace of investment accelerated during the 1970s, and by 1984 it was estimated that US investment alone had a value of $350 million. In 1987, tax treaties with the United Kingdom, Germany, Zambia, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were in force, but private foreign investment stagnated.

In the early 1990s, the government moved to encourage investment by liberalizing trade policies and removing impediments to the development of a free market. It was estimated in 1994 that foreign direct investment totaled more than $1 billion. The foreign direct investment stock in Kenya has remained at the $1 billion mark but increased slightly by 5% from $1 billion in 2001 to $1.1 billion in 2002; while outward stock remained insignificant. While in the 1990s flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) had stabilized at about $50 million, they drastically declined to $5 million in 2001 and $28 million in 2002, as confidence in the government of the president, Daniel Arap Moi, reached an all-time low. Investors were also deterred by widespread corruption, overregulation, and the government's on-off relations with donors. FDI picked up to $82 million in 2003, according to the World Investment Report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), reflecting a recovery in confidence under the new NARC government, but still remained significantly lower than in Tanzania and Uganda. FDI outflows, on the other hand, had grown continuously since 1997, and in 2002 outflows surpassed inflows.

The three largest affiliates of foreign transnational corporation investment in Kenya in the industrial sector were all from the United Kingdom and focused on tobacco, pharmaceutical, and food production. Other investments come from Germany and the United States. Regardless of the government's intentions to attract investment, power interruptions, poor roads, political turmoil, and rampant government corruption dissuaded most serious foreign investment. However, as the government of Kibaki attempted to bring political stability and to root out corruption, foreign direct investment was expected to rise, although as of 2004 this had not happened due to the fact that investors were cautious of the Kibaki regime's resolve.


Central to Kenyan government planning is a continuing expansion of the level of exports and diversification of products. Moreover, Kenya has sought the orderly introduction of large numbers of African farmers into former European agricultural areas. With the goal of full economic independence, the government continues to pursue Africanization of the private sector, particularly in commerce.

Kenya continues to assist private industry by tariff structures that permit the import of raw materials duty-free or at low rates; allow rebates or suspension of customs duties under certain conditions; and establish protective customs barriers. The 197983 development plan, Kenya's fourth, had as its main objective the alleviation of rural poverty. The 198488 development plan also emphasized the rural sector in calling for an annual real GDP growth of 4.9%.

Kenya has depended on external assistance for development financing, but the extent of that dependence has varied with domestic conditions. Whereas in the mid-1960s Kenya depended on external sources for 82% of its total development resources, by the early 1970s the proportion had fallen to only 45%. The late 1970s and 1980s brought renewed reliance on external loans, as the proportion of foreign financing needed to cover the annual government budget deficit rose from 28% in 197879 to 67% in 198182 and an estimated 89% in 198586.

Development in Kenya now depends on the private sector and on foreign and domestic investment as the parastatal sector is dismantled. Foreign exchange earnings were key to the sixth development plan (198993). Because of government mismanagement of funds during the period between 1996 and 1999, most development agencies (including the IMF and World Bank) refused to extend loans and gave up on structural reform programs. The government initiated its own Economic Recovery Strategy in 1999 to increase public sector management reliability, but there were doubts as to the effectiveness of the plan.

In 2000, the IMF renewed lending, in the amount of a three-year $193 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement, which was further augmented due to the impact of severe drought conditions. An anticorruption authority set up by the government was declared unconstitutional in December 2000, and other Kenyan reforms stalled. The IMF and World Bank once again suspended their programs. In July 2003, the IMF indicated it would resume lending to Kenya, as the Fund was encouraged by the country's efforts to fight corruption and promote good governance.


The National Social Security Fund operates a limited pension fund for employed persons. Retirees (age 55) are entitled to a lump sum equal to total contributions plus accrued interest. Disability and survivor benefits are also paid. Medical coverage for employees is available in government hospitals for certain illnesses including AIDS. Employers are also obligated to obtain private worker's injury insurance.

Facilities for social welfare have been largely in the hands of private and voluntary organizations. The government assists many of the voluntary organizations financially. The private and voluntary agencies are highly developed. There are societies that care for the blind, the deaf and mute, and the physically disabled, and voluntary organizations that care for the poor and destitute. Homes and hostels have been established throughout the country for the care of orphans, young offenders, and juvenile prostitutes.

In 2003 the government outlawed violence against women, although domestic violence is a widespread problem affecting over half of the women in Kenya. Rape is an increasing problem in the country. Women also lack the legal rights provided to men. Women must obtain written permission from their husbands or fathers in order to obtain a passport. In practice, permission is also required for women applying for credit. Although the Law of Succession stipulates that sons and daughters should receive equal inheritances, traditional custom continues to benefit male children. Boys greatly outnumber girls in higher education. Female genital mutilation is widely practiced, especially among certain ethnic groups. Children are forced to marry against their will.

Ethnic tensions between Kenyan tribal groups are pronounced. Tribal violence has occurred in the Rift Valley, as well as ethnically motivated fighting between Nubian and Luo populations erupted in Nairobi. Although most ethnic groups are represented in the government, Kikuyus sometimes face discrimination and harassment by government offiscials. Kenya's human rights record remains poor. There are many reports of extrajudicial killings, the use of excessive force, and arbitrary arrest. Prison conditions are poor, and there are lengthy pretrial detentions. Defendants do not have the right to appointed lawyers except for capital cases.


The National Hospital Insurance Fund is the most important health insurance program in Kenya. Membership is compulsory for all civil servants. The government is attempting to improve and upgrade existing health facilities and opening new ones. Kenya produces cotton wadding domestically, but all other medical equipment and supplies are imported. High-quality private practitioners require sophisticated medical equipment, but the public sector acquires less expensive equipment. Kenya also has a well-developed pharmaceutical industry that can produce most medications recommended by the World Health Organization.

The government is attempting to reduce malnutrition and combat deficiency diseases. Among Kenya's major health problems are tuberculosis and protein deficiency, the latter especially among young children. Although the incidence of malaria has been reduced, it still is endemic in some parts of Kenya and is responsible for anemia in children. Water supply, sanitation, bilharzia, and sleeping sickness also pose major problems. Schistosomiasis is endemic to some areas. In 2000, 49% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 86% had adequate sanitation.

As of 2003, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at 27.6 and 14.7 per 1,000 people respectively. As of 2000, 39% of married women (ages 15 to 49) were using contraception. Average life expectancy was 47.99 years in 2005 and infant mortality was 61.47 per 1,000 live births. The fertility rate was 4.4 children per childbearing years of a Kenyan woman as of 2000. Immunization rates for children up to one year old were fairly low: tuberculosis, 42%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 36%; polio, 36%; and measles, 32%. Malnutrition affected an estimated 33% of children under five.

As of 2004, there were an estimated 13 physicians, 90 nurses, 2 dentists, and 5 pharmacists per 100,000 people. Health care expenditure was estimated at 7.8% of GDP. The government was also encouraging the development of the private health care sector through tax incentives as well as other plans.

There has been a rapid spread of AIDS since the 1980s. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 6.70 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 1,200,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 150,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


Rapid urbanization has made it difficult for the government to keep pace in providing adequate housing for those in need. In Nairobi, the population density is 3,079 persons per sq km (almost 8,000 per sq mi). More than half of the city's residents live in temporary shelters, generally in one of over 100 slum communities throughout the city. One-room shanties in the slum areas of Nairobi, Mombasa, and Nakuru are typically about 3 to 5 sq m and house 5 to 6 people. A high level of poverty paired with the high cost of available land mean fewer urban dwellers are in a position to purchase property of their own. In the mid-1990s, some slum dwellers, facing forced evictions, began to form federations as a means of protesting poor housing conditions and calling for better government housing regulations to provide for both adequate housing and home ownership.

Most housing in rural areas is privately built and owned by the residents. But many of these homes are built with traditional materials of mud and thatch and deteriorate in a relatively short time.

The central government is responsible for all housing projects and works closely with local authorities. Many new housing projects have been undertaken with financial aid from the National Housing Corp. According to the latest government information available, total housing stock in the 1980s stood at 3,470,000, with 6.1 people per dwelling.


Primary education is free and compulsory for eight years. Children start school at the age of five or six and spend eight years at primary school; four years at secondary school; and a further four years at the university. The academic year runs from October to July.

In 2001, about 44% of children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 66% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 25% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 73% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 34:1 in 2003.

There are four main universities in Kenya. Kenyatta University was founded in 1972 and is located in Nairobi. The University of Nairobi was founded in 1956 as the Royal Technical College of East Africa. The Moi University was founded in 1984 at Eldoret. The Egerton University, located at Njoro, was founded in 1939. The language of instruction in all the universities is English. In 2001, about 3% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 73.6%, with 77.7% for men and 70.2% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 7% of GDP, or 22% of total government expenditures.


The Kenya National Library Service, founded in 1965 and located in Nairobi, maintains over 25 provincial and community branches. The largest public library is the McMillan Memorial Library, formerly a private institution, which was taken over by the Nairobi City Council in 1962; it contained 275,000 volumes in 2002, including a collection of Africana, and had two branches. In 1996, Kenya National Library Service launched the Camel Mobile Service to transport books to villages and settlements between 5 and 10 km away from the main regional libraries. The libraries of the University of Nairobi, with 500,000 volumes, are the best supported in Kenya. Kenyatta University in Nairobi has 166,000 volumes. The British Council maintains three branch libraries, and the National Archives in Nairobi holds 40,000 volumes.

The National Museum in Nairobi and the Ft. Jesus Museum in Mombasa are the largest in Kenya. There are numerous local museums, including the Kiriandusi Prehistoric Site in Gilgil, founded in 1928, the Gedi Ruins Museum south of Malindi, and museums in Kabarnet, Lamu, Meru, Narak, and Olergesailie. The Kapenguria Museum, opened in 1993, details Kenya's political development and struggle for independence.


The Ministry of Transport and Communications is responsible for telecommunications. In 2003, there were an estimated 10 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 134,000 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 50 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), the country's government-owned broadcaster, is the only station with a national network for television and radio programming. In 2004, there were 12 independent radio stations. Kenya Television Network was the leading privately owned broadcaster. There were eight television stations in 2002. In 2003, there were an estimated 221 radios and 26 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 6.4 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 13 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were eight secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

In 2002, there were five major daily newspapers, all published in Nairobi. The Daily Nation, an independent paper founded in 1960, had a daily circulation of 170,000. The Standard (circulation 70,000) has ties to the KANU party. The other dailies include: Taifa Leo, a Swahili newspaper, circulation 57,000; the Kenya Times, associated with KANU, 52,000; and the Kenya Leo, (in Swahili, 40,000 in 1995).

While there is no formal censorship, the press is sometimes subject to harassment from public officials who have been treated unfavorably.


Voluntary societies are numerous. Some are affiliated with parent bodies in the United Kingdom; a few, such as the Rotary Club, the Round Table, Kiwanis, and the Lions Club, are affiliated internationally. The Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and Caritas are also active. African women's clubs, called Maendeleo ya Wanawake, have been organized throughout Kenya. Some are members of the umbrella organization of National Council of Women of Kenya. National youth organizations include the Kenya Scouts Association, YMCA/YWCA, Kenya United Nations Youth and Student Association, and 4-K Clubs (a branch of 4-H Clubs). There are several sports associations and clubs representing amateur athletes competing in such pastimes as cricket, lawn tennis, squash, tae kwon do, yachting, and badminton.

National organizations promoting arts and science include the Kenya National Academy of Sciences (est. 1983), the Kenya Medical Association, and the multinational African Academy of Sciences (est. 1985). Organizations dedicated to research and education include the African Medical and Research Foundation and the African Centre for Technology Studies.

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, founded in 1965, has its headquarters in Nairobi. The Central Organization of Trade Unions and the Federation of Kenya Employers are based in Nairobi. Organizations dedicated to promoting the concerns of industry, business, and labor include the Agricultural Society of Kenya, Tea Board of Kenya, Kenya Tea Growers Association, and Fresh Produce Exporters' Association of Kenya. The Kenya Consumer's Organization is also active.

The World Conservation Union has an office in Nairobi. Other nature conservancy organizations include the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya Association and Save the Elephants.


Since Kenya attained independence in 1963, tourism has become the leading source of foreign exchange revenue. In 2003, there were 1,146,099 visitors, almost 60% of whom came from Europe. The hotels had an occupancy rate of 33% and the average length of stay was eight nights. Tourism expenditure receipts totaled $631 million.

Accommodations in the form of lodges and campsites are available in the more remote areas, as well as five-star hotels in the more popular regions. Safaris are the chief attraction, whether they are photographic, cultural, or even sport. Kenya also boasts over 30 national parks and game preserves. The largest game preserve is Tsavo National Park, home of over 500 bird species; covering an area of about 21,343 sq km (8,241 sq mi), it is one of the world's largest wildlife sanctuaries. Nairobi has a professional repertory theater and a National Theater; the capital hosts a Festival of African music in July. Other attractions include the mosques of Mombasa, the spectacular scenery of the Great Rift Valley, the coffee plantations at Thika, and the world-renowned Tree Hotels. Tourists also enjoy the dramatic view of Mt. Kilimanjaro, which rises in neighboring Tanzania; as of 2006, scientists were predicting that Kilimanjaro's ice cap, which had visibly shrunk during the 1990s, would completely disappear by 2015.

Travelers from infected countries must carry a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever. Precautions are also recommended against typhoid and malaria. A valid passport, visa, and onward/return ticket are required for entry into Kenya.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily expenses of traveling in Nairobi at $230. Mombasa averaged $99 to $152 per day, depending on the time of year.


The leading African figure in the modern history of Kenya was Jomo Kenyatta (1893?1978). From the 1920s to the 1970s he was in the forefront of African nationalism. Imprisoned and restricted during the Mau Mau revolt for his alleged role in its organization, he was released in August 1961 and was president of independent Kenya from 1964 until his death. Another dominant African personality was Tom Mboya (193069), who commanded an international reputation as a political and labor leader. Oginga Odinga (191194), usually at odds with the ruling establishment, was vice-president from 1964 to 1966. Daniel arap Moi (b.1924), a son of poor farmers, was vice-president for 11 years before succeeding Kenyatta as president in 1978. He served until 2002, when he was succeeded by Mwai Kibaki (b.1931).

Sir Michael Blundell (190793), a leader of the European community after World War II, came to be identified with those who sought to create a nonracial political society; he was a director of Barclays Bank of Kenya from 1968 to 1981. Richard Leakey (b.1944) is a leading paleoanthropologist.


Kenya has no territories or colonies.


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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Kenya
Region: Africa
Population: 30,339,770
Language(s): English, Kiswahili
Literacy Rate: 78.1%
Number of Primary Schools: 15,906
Compulsory Schooling: 8 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 6.5%
Libraries: 21
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 5,544,998
  Secondary: 619,839
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 85%
  Secondary: 24%
Teachers: Primary: 178,097
  Secondary: 38,307
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 30:1
  Secondary: 15:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 85%
  Secondary: 22%

History & Background

The Democratic Republic of Kenya lies across the equator on the east coast of Africa. It borders Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan to the north; Uganda to the west; Tanzania to the south; and the Indian Ocean to the east. The country covers an area of 222,845 square miles, approximately the size of the state of Texas. Almost 80 percent of the land mass ranges from arid to semi-arid savanna land, mostly occupied by sparsely populated communities that combine agriculture with pastoralism. Tourism is one of the main ways in which the country earns foreign currency. Kenya has a moderate climate, much open space, and an abundance of wildlife that attracts people from all over the world. Modern transportation has made traveling in the country more convenient. It takes approximately 45 minutes by air and six hours by road to travel from the wild game parks to the Indian Ocean coast, which has many popular beaches.

The country is divided into eight provinces including the Nairobi area: Central, Coast, Eastern, North, Rift Valley, Western, and North Eastern. They are divided into administrative areas known as districts. Nairobi is the capital city with a population of approximately 1.4 million. Other major towns include Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, and Eldoret.

The 1997 census estimated the population at 29.1 million. There are numerous religious affiliations, with the population being approximately 40 percent Protestant, 30 percent Roman Catholic, 6 percent Muslim, and 23 percent other religious believers (Embassy of the Republic of Kenya 2001).

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (2000) indicated that the July 2000 population was estimated at 30.3 million. The report notes that these estimates explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS, which can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and larger changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

In Kenya, there are 42 ethnic groups, each with a unique language, divided into four major linguistic groups: the Khoisans, Bantu, Nilotics, and Cushites. Swahili (Kiswahili ) is the national language, and English is the official language and the medium of instruction. As a result of interaction between the coastal Bantu, the Arabs, and other groups, the Swahili language developed as early as the fifth century. The Swahili speaking people (Waswahili ) are made up of a mixture of different people from various ethnic groups, especially the coastal Bantu (the Miji Kenda ), known as the nine tribes of the coast. The Waswahili mainly dwell in the cities and the majority of them are Moslem. The main Kenyan ethnic groups include: Kikuyu, 22 percent; Luhya, 14 percent; Luo, 13 percent; Kalenjin, 12 percent; Kamba, 11 percent; Kisii, 6 percent; Meru, 6 percent; other African, 15 percent (which includes the Miji Kenda ); and non-African (Asian, European, and Arab), 1 percent.

The country's history dates back to the Stone Age. Kenya possesses one of the world's largest and most complete records of man's cultural development, partly because of the country's rich variety of environmental factors conducive to human survival and development. According to archeological finds in various parts of the country, the prehistoric period is divided into two categories: the Stone Age period, which dates from about two million years ago, and the Neolithic period, which dates from about 2,000 to 10,000 years ago. Available evidence indicates that man left behind traces of his occupation during the Iron Age through the precolonial period and up to the present time. The phases of the various periods are characterized by tools ranging from crude to advanced (Quyum 2001).

Kenya was colonized by the British government for 70 years. It became a British protectorate after the Anglo-German agreement of 1890. At this time the British main interest was not to control local people, but to construct a railway that would connect Uganda, Zanzibar, and the Indian Ocean. The railway was important for strategic and economic reasons; it was to be the main link that would connect Lake Victoria (the source of the river Nile) and Uganda, which was also under British control. The construction of the railway led to a large immigration of people from India who were imported to work on the railway. Other immigrants from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada followed in 1903 as economic interests grew. European settlers from South Africa also moved to the new British territory.

In order to prosper, the colonial government had to force the Africans who lived in its protectorates to work. In 1901 the British imposed tax payments in every area that they controlled. In order to maintain control over Africans, the British limited their education to mere practical skills, suitable for working on the farms. The missionaries and Islamic groups on the Indian Ocean coast had already established schools. The discriminatory attitudes and the imposition of taxes, forced labor, and land confiscation caused friction between Africans and the colonial government. The friction triggered a political consciousness among Africans, which led to the eventual resistance by Africans against British rule. The strongest rebellion against the British was the Mau Mau, first in 1890 and the last in 1952. This period marked the beginning of African nationalism.

Daniel N. Sifuna, in the book, Development of Education in Africa: The Kenyan Experience (1990), points out that the Second World War brought not only an economic boom, but also a significant psychological change that led to the subsequent spread of nationalism in Africa. Previously, Europeans had dominated Africans by demonstrating advanced military and economic power and an attitude of superiority and invincibility. Many Africans, after fighting alongside the European soldiers, realized that the Europeans were equally vulnerable human beings. Thus, the white superiority myth was destroyed.

The Mau Mau resistance paved the way for constitutional reforms and development in subsequent years. In 1955, various political parties were formed all over the country after the colonial government yielded to their formation. Elections were held in March 1957, after which racial barriers in the government began to be lifted. In 1960, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), which advocated a unitary government, was formed. In 1961 the Kenya African Democratic Union, which advocated a quasifederal government (Majimbo ), was also formed. The first full franchise general elections were held in May 1963, and KANU emerged the winner. In June 1963, Kenya attained internal self-government. On December 12 of the same year, independence was achieved with a complex (Majimbo ) constitution, which conceded much autonomy to the regions. On the first anniversary of independence in 1964, Kenya became a republic, with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as president. Following his death on 22 August 1978, the Honorable Daniel Arap Moi assumed the presidency in accordance with the Kenyan Constitution.

After independence, Kenya faced an enormous challenge of reforming the educational system to reflect its citizen's needs. Such a challenge continues to haunt the country today. One difficulty lies in developing an education system to replace the one inherited from the colonial government.

Sifuna (1990) defines education as the "whole process by which one generation transmits its culture to the succeeding generation, or better still a process by which people are prepared to live effectively and efficiently in their environment." This definition fits a universal view of what education is, and what it aspires to be. Thus, the difference between African-Kenyan indigenous education and that inherited from the British is in its application or methods and interpretation of the needs of the society by its leaders.

Usage of the Terms Race, Ethnicity, & Tribe: It should be noted that the terms: race, ethnicity, and tribe can be confusing. The meaning depends on who is using the term and from what era. In colonial times, the Europeans often viewed Africans as uncivilized people, and, when describing African groups, did not consider their language variations or linguistic diversity as important. They often referred to Africans as "black people" or a "black race" divided into different tribes. However, Africans in general, including Kenyans, identify themselves according to their linguistic groups, as Irish-, Italian-, or German-speakers do. Thus, the Kamba people who speak the Kikamba language or the Kikuyu people who speak the Gikuyu language belong to two different ethnic groups.

In the twenty-first century, usage of the terms race and tribe can portray insensitivity and a racist attitude, particularly when the term race is used to refer to the skin color of the people but not their culture, language, and ancestry. Confusion occurs when the term race is used in place of ethnicity because race can refer to skin color, whereas ethnicity means more than physical description. The following description of kinship should help clarify misconceptions and confusion caused by usage of the terms race, ethnicity, and tribe. It is also important because it clears the distortion that has been imposed on Africans' identity in general by foreigners.

Kinship: In Kenya and Africa, traditional ethnic groups were determined by geographical region, language, and common culture. Each ethnic group had its own social and political organization with a strong sense of kinship. Kinship controls social relationships between people in a given community, governs marital customs and laws, and determines the behavior of one individual towards another (Mbiti 1992).

Understanding kinship is important as far as intracultural (cultural awareness among Kenyans), cross-cultural (awareness transfer or borrowing from one culture to another), and intercultural (awareness between different cultures through interaction) factors are concerned. An awareness of kinship was lacking when Western education was introduced in Kenya. Exclusion of the indigenous form of education from formal education in Kenya has led to an alienation of cultural identity. This is one of the main reasons why many Kenyans feel the education system needs a complete overhaul in the twenty-first century. Education in Kenya has been declared dysfunctional because it has failed to address a full range of economic, social and cultural, political, and psychological perspectives.

In traditional societies, the community took precedence over the individual. Members owed existence to one another, including both their ancestors and contemporaries. Marriage was highly valued, as were children. "Whatever happens to the individual happens to the whole group, and whatever happens to the whole group happens to the individual. Therefore the individual can only say, 'I am, because we are; and since we are, therefore I am"' (Mbiti 1992). Communities lived together in villages, which included farm fields and animal sheds along with houses and shrines. The style of traditional houses varied from community to community. Some were round in shape, built around the village compound in a circle or semicircle, while others were rectangular in shape. The houses generally faced the center of the compound (Mbiti 1992).

Very little has been included in the educational curricula that emphasizes ancient African civilization. Most emphasis is placed on understanding Europeans and life outside the African continent. Thus, it is not surprising to find that most educated Kenyans have not visited or know much about the ancient civilization archives in Egypt, just two hours away by air.

Indigenous Education in Kenya: Kenyans as well as other Africans did not live in the society as one nation of people. Therefore, they did not have one single indigenous form of education. As Sifuna (1990) points out, Africans had different systems of education to transmit their own particular knowledge and skills. He notes that, although the African-Kenyan indigenous education differed from one ethnic group to another, the goals were very similar. The main purpose of indigenous education was to train youth for adulthood. Emphasis was placed on the established norms (normative goals) that were unique to each ethnic group, which reflected the standards and beliefs of the correct behavior (ethical and moral character in Western terms). Other goals were expressive that emphasized unity and consensus. Competitiveness in intellectual and practical matters was encouraged. In essence, African-Kenyan indigenous education had a holistic approach that emphasized social responsibility, job orientation, political participation, spirituality and moral values.

The curriculum was pragmatic by design. Environmental knowledge was crucial in order for the student to overcome hardships and to exploit it for survival reasons. Therefore, the student had to acquire knowledge of physical geography, appropriate technology, plants, animals, and insects. Also, learning how to get along and stay close, with a sense of cultural identity and community, and strong government was highly emphasized. Understanding "who you are" through kinship (lineage and ethnicity), and one's role in society was highly valued. Most of the activities that taught these values were very ritualistic, and constituted civic responsibilities. Thus, depending on one's clan and ethnic group, the rituals involved initiation rites and ceremonies that were symbolic and served as a form of teaching and learning.

Informal methods of instruction involved productive and meaningful work, mostly learning by doing along with adults. The formal methods of teaching involved a theoretical and practical inculcation of skills through apprenticeship. The philosophical foundations that shaped indigenous education were universal to all ethnic groups. The foundation included the following philosophies: communalism, preparationism, functionalism, and holisticism.

Communalism emphasized group cohesion. Preparationism prepared children to become useful members of the household, village, clan, and ethnic group (tribe). The preparation of young people was gender specific, where girls learned from women and boys from men. Functionalism is another philosophy that is strictly utilitarian, used as an immediate induction into society and preparation for adulthood, a participatory process. Functionalism incorporates spiritual and moral living, economic communal participation, and job orientation and application.

Another philosophy, perennialism, focused on transmission of heritage from one generation to another. This is the way the civilization of a people is perpetuated and assurance of continuity of cultural heritage. It is a collective means through which the society initiates its young generation. Lastly, holisticism involved learning without any specialization, in which aims, content, and methods are inextricably interwoven. This principle requires critical thinking and creativity (Sifuna 1990).

Sifuna (1990) asserts that, while indigenous education is suitable for Kenyans, it has some weaknesses and deficiencies that would not adequately fit today. These weaknesses include the neglect of the individual, little contact with the outside world due to the confinement to the ethnic group (tribe), and the static nature of a lifestyle where there are few career choices.

Despite these weaknesses, the question remains: Why did the postindependence education reform movement fail to integrate the indigenous aspects of education? One of the reasons was the lack of ideological base, and a leadership that adapted Western ideas in shaping education without integrating them with the indigenous elements that were reflective to Kenyans' psyches and needs. The new leaders were also working with the former colonial expatriates who also shared the expenses. Thus, the educational reforms had to serve the interests of the former colonial government through funding and expertise (usually viewed as "Neocolonialism"). Adapted ideas of political process also contributed to the maintenance of status quo.

The constitutional and the legal foundations of education in Kenya have been shaped and guided by a reactionary, reactive process. It is reasonable to conclude that, after independence, Kenya was mostly concerned with re-appropriating the land to the people. While educational development was not the main focus, it became important as the country developed and started to interact with the rest of the world.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Kenya is a democratic government with political pluralism. The president is the head of state and government. The constitution is the supreme law of the state. It establishes and determines the composition, powers, and duties of the main organs of government namely the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. Before independence, Kenyan education was divided into a three-tier system: schools for whites, Asians, and Africans. The best schools were reserved for the whites, the middle class for Asians (mostly Indians), and the lower class for Africans.

After Kenya's independence in December 1963, the Minister of Education appointed the Ominde Commission to assess the educational resources and to advise the government on the formulation and implementation of national policies for education (Sifuna 1990). The commission noted that independence created a condition that would not allow racially segregated schools such as those that existed during the colonial era. The commission recommended that, since independence signified the birth of the nation, education should serve as a means of uniting the different racial and ethnic groups that make up the nation.

The commission's decisions were influenced by international opinion and internal political socioeconomic forces published in several works including the "High Level Manpower Requirements and Resources in Kenya, 1964-1970" and "The Development Plan 1964-1980, and African Socialism and its Application to planning in Kenya." From these publications, the commission identified a direct relationship between education and economic growth. It was recommended that educating upper- and middle-class manpower was needed by developing countries, and could accelerate Kenya's economic pace. The commission endorsed an educational policy objective that called for free primary education. Under these recommendations, Kenya chose to emphasize an expansion of higher levels of education that was geared to meet the manpower needs, and as a means to increase primary school enrollment. From 1964 to 1969, deliberate efforts were made to slow the growth of primary schools, which had enrollment increases of 20 percent, rising from approximately 1 million to 1.2 million. The government's primary education development plan of 1970 to 1974 was designed to increase enrollment to 1.8 million in order to cover 75 percent of the school age population by 1974. In this effort, the old educational system (referred to as the 4-4 system) developed by the British colonial rule was abolished.

The 4-4 system consisted of four years of primary education and four years of intermediate. After the first four years there was a common exam, the Competitive Entrance Examination (CEE). Eight years of schooling was the highest level of education Africans could achieve under this system. The 4-4 system was replaced with 7-4-2-3, whereby a common national exam was held after the first seven years, the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE). This system was replaced in 1985 with the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) when the 8-4-4 system was implemented.

Politically, the government had embarked on "africanizing" the civil service and the economy. As a result, "kenyanization" of the education system was also emphasized. While "africanizing" or "kenyanization" of the educational system in Kenya was deemed necessary, there was a lack of ideological foundations that tapped into indigenous ideals, which would translate the needs of appropriate educational development and reforms. Sifuna (1990) notes the dilemma the Kenyan educational system faced by indicating that Kenya made rapid expansion at the secondary and higher education levels after independence was achieved. However, the educational policies were influenced by the manpower utilization model, which may have been justified but overemphasized. Sifuna asserts that the results of this approach were that the trained manpower did not represent the priority needs of the country. Thus, because many could not be accommodated in the existing labor market, the manpower utilization model was probably not the best choice, especially when it stressed formal education as the only potent tool for effecting the development of society. Therefore, the preoccupation of planners with this particular model prevented meaningful efforts to universalize educational integration of formal schooling with socioeconomic development.

The continuation of this policy has created a serious gap between the rich and the poor. As a result, Kenya is faced with an influx of unemployed populations in the urban areas, and a neglect of agriculture and rural development, which is the mainstay of Kenya's economy. The educational system change produced an overwhelming growth in school enrollment. The expansion of secondary schools led to a massive enrollment increase at the university level and an influx of unemployment. Kenya continued to face this trend as it enters the twenty-first century.

Educational SystemOverview

Missionaries introduced Western education in Kenya. The first missionaries to settle on the East African coast were Portuguese Roman Catholics. By 1557 they had established monasteries at Mombasa and Lamu, Kenyan coastal towns. The second wave of Christian missionaries included the Lutherans, who were sent to Kenya through the Church Missionary Society (CMS). Among these were Johann Ludwig Krapf, Johann Rebman, and Jacob Erhadt. The partition of Africa in 1884 established British rule in Kenya and led to an increase of Christian missionaries. As the missionaries established themselves on the mainland, they started schools as a means of converting Africans to Christianity. Their acceptance was somewhat due to the fact that they used the schools as a means of rehabilitating slaves who were returned after having been captured by Arabs. The Arabs had established themselves earlier on the coast, and had already introduced some schools where they taught the Koran. Thus, the Christian missionaries had to move further inland, away from the Moslems where they could easily rehabilitate the returned slaves. Later the British colonial government started to urge the missionaries to expand the educational system to include a technical focus in the curriculum in addition to religion. Although some were reluctant, for fear of losing the monopoly of schools to the government, some went along and even received funding.

In 1908, the missionaries formed a joint committee on education that later became the Missionary Board of Education, representing all the Protestant missions in the British protectorate. In 1909 the British government established an education board with Henry Scott of the Church of Scotland serving as the chair. The establishment of the education board occurred at the same time that the Fraser and Giroud Commissions were put in place. These commissions called for racial consideration in developing the British protectorate. The recommendations included a push for industrial development, technical education, and the teaching of religion as a moral foundation. The import of expensive labor from India was discouraged. Professor Fraser also recommended the establishment of a Department of Education.

After the First World War, a more concerted effort by the British to develop African colonies was established. The British began reexamining and reevaluating education in the African territories. In 1923 the British secretary of state established a committee chaired by the parliamentary under-secretary of state to advise on the educational affairs of the African-Kenyans. This marked the beginning of the first educational policy by the British colonial government.

This period marked the beginning of the three-tier education system in Kenya. There were racially segregated schools for Europeans (whites), Asians, and Africans. It was also the starting point of a joint venture between the colonial government and the missionaries, whereby the missionaries paved the way for colonialism. After Kenyan independence was achieved, the three-tier system developed into three types of schools: government, private and/or missionary, and harambee (a grass-root movement of self-help schools). The government schools, formerly reserved for whites, and the private schools were the best equipped. The missionary schools continued to exist, although some were converted into government schools. The quality of harambee schools, which were geared towards increasing education for Africans, depended on the economy of the location.

As of the early 2000s, the government schools have deteriorated and lost prestige due to lack of funding. The private schools seem to prosper most as the economy continues to decline. In the government schools tuition is waived; however, the government introduced a cost-sharing funding of the schools, whereby the parents contribute to the building facilities and supplies. Because most of the parents cannot afford their share, the schools are falling apart. This has created chaos in Kenya's educational system that has resulted in poorly trained personnel and loss of quality education. The country is calling for major education reforms in the twenty-first century.

The Kenya education policy was implemented under the mandate of the Ministry of Education, which is also responsible for writing up educational curricula through the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE), and setting and regulating national examinations through the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC). Education takes up to 25 percent of the government expenditure.

The current educational curricula, commonly referred to as the 8-4-4 system, consists of eight years of primary education, four years of secondary, and four years of university education. According to Sifuna (1990), there are three events that led to implementation of the 8-4-4 system: the 1966 conference on education at Kericho in Kenya, which stressed the need for integrating rural development; the International Labor Organization mission report entitled "Employment, Incomes and Equality: A Strategy for Increasing Productive Employment of 1972;" and the recommendation of the National Committee on Educational Objectives and Policies of 1975. In 1979 the Ministry of Education was changed to the Ministry of Basic Education with an introductory nine-year basic education system program. The rationale was that the previous program was too short and not rigorous enough to give graduates enough practical education. It also recommended that the first six years of primary were to concentrate on numerary and literacy skills and the last two years on basic education with practical orientation. This represented a shift from a focus on enrollment to restructuring the program as a means to cater to the influx of unemployed.

The twenty-first century educational reform proposals are under review because the systems have failed to meet the original purpose. The system in Kenya has been described as a burden to both teachers and pupils due to the wide scope expected in the numerous subjects studied. The failure of the system is blamed on financial constraints and inadequate training of the implementers. Between 1980 and 1990, Kenya faced tremendous growth of privately owned schools and higher education institutions, while the government schools deteriorated. There are also several private schools that offer an international curriculum, including the London education and international baccalaureate (GCE), among others.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Before 1980 preprimary education, which caters to children between one and six years of age, was exclusively the responsibility of local communities and nongovernmental organizations such as churches, voluntary organizations, local authorities, and individual investors. At that time there were only six preschool training centers. The government assumed responsibility for pre-school education in 1980 and has since streamlined the program. The government now has undertaken the training of preschool teachers, the preparation and development of the curriculum, and the preparation of teaching materials. The development of preschool units and the cost of teachers' services has, on the other hand, continued to be met by the communities and other nongovernmental agencies.

Early childhood education in Kenya did not get much attention until the late 1980s. The government did not focus on early childhood education prior to this time because, after independence in 1963, the main priorities were to create a uniquely Kenyan ideology, politics, and constitution. Since the economy was still rural-based, childhood education did not become an immediate necessity until the industrialization of the country increased. As industries developed in the urban areas and more Kenyans started to work away from home, the demand for early childhood education increased.

To enhance the development of preschool education, the government, in collaboration with the Van Leer Foundation, established the National Center for Early Childhood Education, based at the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE). The Center's main responsibility is to train the instructors of preschool teachers, who are then posted to District Centers for Early Childhood Education (DICECE). There are 18 such centers and the ultimate objective is to have a center in every district.

The preprimary education program has grown tremendously over the past 20 or so years. The number of children attending preprimary units in 1990 was in the order of 800,000, while the number of preschool teachers was about 20,000 ( 2001).

Primary Education: Primary education in Kenya begins the first phase of the formal educational system. It starts at six years of age and runs for eight years. Before the expansion of schools in the early 1970s, the beginning age did not matter. However, as school enrollment increased in the late 1980s, a starting age for attending school became necessary.

The main purpose of primary education is to prepare children to participate fully in the social, political, and economic well being of the country. The primary school curriculum has therefore been designed to provide a functional and practical education that caters both to the needs of children who finish their education at the primary school level, and to those who wish to continue with secondary education.

Before independence, primary education was almost exclusively the responsibility of the communities or nongovernmental agencies such as local church groups. Since independence the government has gradually taken over the administration of primary education from local authorities and assumed a greater share of the financial cost in line with the political commitment to provide equal educational opportunities to all through the provision of free primary education ( 2001).

There are both public and private primary schools; however, almost all primary schools in the country are in the public sector and depend on the government for their operational expenses. The government provides teachers and meets their salaries. Pupils in the public schools do not pay school fees, but rather pay contributions through a parent-teacher association cost sharing system. Because of this cost sharing system, government expenditure on school supplies and equipment is minimal. The responsibilities for the construction and maintenance of schools and staff housing are left to the parents. After independence, most primary schools and equipment were built through community fundraising (or harambee, a self-help effort).

Between 1970 and 1990, there was a remarkable expansion in primary education, both in terms of the number of schools established and in the number of children enrolled. In 1970, there were 6,056 primary schools with a total enrollment of 891,600 children. At the same time, trained teachers numbered 92,000. This number increased by 1990 to over 14,690 primary schools, with an enrollment of slightly over 5 million children and nearly 200,000 trained teachers. Also as enrollment expanded, there was a significant improvement in the number of girls in education. At the beginning of independence, only about a third of the enrollment in primary schools were female. By 1990 the number of girls attending school rose to nearly 50 percent.

At the conclusion of primary school, pupils take a national examination and receive a Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). Graduates either proceed to a secondary school for four years or join tertiary institutions such as Youth Polytechnics, a technical training institute, or the job market.

Feneral curriculum subjects for the first eight years include: English, Kiswahili, mathematics, science, music, history, civics, geography, and religious education. The vocational subjects include arts, crafts, agriculture, and home science. Specific activities in the vocational subjects in the arts and crafts involve drawing, painting, graphic design, collage/mosaic, weaving, ornament-making clay-pottery, leather work, modeling and carving, fabric designs, puppetry, woodwork, and metal work. These subjects are well defined in the program of study that should make a Kenyan education among the region's best. However, the problem is in the application of the curriculum and the management of the schools. Thus, if the curriculum were implemented as it is designed on paper, it would make an ideal educational system. The imbalance in implementation process and poor economy contributes to the failure, but not the planning and design expertise.

Secondary Education

Secondary school education usually starts at 14 years of age and runs for four years. Upon completion of secondary school, students can choose to go to college or pursue other vocational fields. Students who do well in secondary school are admitted to college, and others join teacher training institutions, technical training schools, or the job market. The competition for admission to college and the training institutes is very high.

The secondary education program is geared towards meeting the needs of both the students who terminate their education after secondary school and those who proceed to higher education. In this context, the secondary school curriculum emphasizes job-oriented courses, such as business and technical education.

The objectives of the secondary school education are to prepare students to make a positive contribution to the development of society, and to acquire attitudes of national patriotism, self-respect, self-reliance, cooperation, adaptability, and a sense of purpose and self-discipline (Sifuna 1990). The curriculum covers six major areas: communication (English, Kiswahili and foreign languages), mathematics, science (physical and biological), humanities (geography, history, government, religious education, social education, and ethics), applied education (agriculture, industrial education, wood technology, metal technology, power mechanics, electrical technology, business education, accounts, commerce, typing and office practice, home science, clothing and textiles, food and nutrition, arts, and music), and physical education.

There are two categories of secondary schools in Kenya, public and private. The public secondary schools are funded by the government or communities and are managed through a board of governors and parent-teacher associations. The private schools, on the other hand, are established and managed by private individuals or organizations, including missionaries.

There has been a tremendous increase in both the number of secondary schools and in student enrollment in response to the rapidly increasing number of primary school graduates seeking entry to the secondary level. In 1963 there were only 151 secondary schools with a total enrollment of 30,120 students. In the year 2000, the number of secondary schools had risen to nearly 3,000 with a total enrollment of 620,000 students. Of this total, slightly over 40 percent are female. The rapid expansion at the secondary level has been the result of the vigorous harambee schools movement that has led to the establishment of numerous community secondary schools. Only about 50 percent of pupils that sit for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) get places in secondary school. These are categorized into four areasnational, provincial, district, and harambee. Students sit for a minimum of eight subjects at the end of Form Four for the award of KCSE. Compulsory subjects are English, Kiswahili, and mathematics.

The secondary school curriculum was developed with the 8-4-4 system's goals of addressing the following needs: to make a more relevant curriculum that would offer practical skills applicable to a wide range of job opportunities; and to provide equitable distribution of education resources that assured opportunities for all students regardless of their origin, creed, race, or region.

Though the curriculum is designed with the above goals, the postgraduation unemployment problem has not been solved. Unemployment has continued to increase and the number of educated and disillusioned workers has grown in great numbers, especially in the major cities. This is often due to the fact that schools produce graduates who have the hope that education equals access to jobs, but there are no jobs due to lack of infrastructure development. In other words, Kenya faces a problem of too many educated people without the opportunities for them to apply the skills that they acquired. There has been very little emphasis on agriculture and rural development, and many rural residents are moving to the cities.

Thus, the crisis Kenya faces in the twenty-first century is finding jobs for an educated people who are poor and disillusioned. Movement from rural to urban areas has led to overcrowded cities, higher crime rates, and lower educational expectations. A study conducted by Claudia Buchmann titled "Family Structure, Parental Perceptions, and Child Labor in Kenya: What Factors Determine Who is Enrolled in School" (2000) points out that there has been very little empirical research on the effectiveness of educational initiatives that have been implemented in Kenya. Court and Ghai (1974) also note that there has been a serious failure of communication between the educational planners and the educators. The educational planners are influenced by political pressure and as a result have rushed their decisions and placed an emphasis on the development of buildings instead of education. Court and Ghai (1974) also assert that the Kenyan educational system was not developed with "designed and tested objectives in mind but just grew."

Buchmann (2000), comparing African educational systems in general with other developing countriessuch as those in East and Southeast Asiafound distinctive differences in the way families make decisions on schooling for children. In most African countries, and specifically in Kenya, low levels of economic development create an environment where the educational system is very competitive and where high educational achievement does not guarantee occupational mobility. This study also reveals that the theories applied in developing educational policies, if any, were not consistent with Africa-Kenyan values and were misguided. Kenya developed a highly expanded educational system that rivals those in the most industrialized countries in terms of its complexity and competitiveness. Yet, the strength of the extended kinship networks, polygyny, and the dominance of subsistence agriculture show that there has been very little change in Kenyans' lives (Buchmann 2000).

Also, while there has been a great increase in formal education, only 14 percent of the population was employed in the formal sector and 3.5 percent in the informal sector by 1990, nearly three decades after Kenya's independence. More than 80 percent of the total labor force remains in agriculture and pastoralism, with a labor force growth rate of 3.6 percent annually. The country is thus faced with intense competition for wage employment and growing pressure on developed arable land. In other words, a child's ability to find gainful employment in the future has more consequence for the entire family and not just for the individual child. For this reason school means a hope of increasing job prospects.

Social security for the aging population is usually based on the future earning of the children. Kenya had implemented a social security retirement system similar to that of the Western countries but abolished it in early the 1980s when it was declared dysfunctional. Plans to reimplement the social security system are again under consideration in the early 2000s.

Higher Education

After completion of 12 years of primary and secondary school, graduates have a variety of choices. If they performed well, they can go to a public college based on their financial standing and scholarship availability. Only the top performers have this option. The second choice is to attend a private college, which costs more and has fewer scholarships. The third choice is to go to a vocational school or a teacher training institution, or to join the job market.

Teacher training colleges offer a three-year program for science teachers and a two-year program for liberal arts. The primary colleges are Kenya Science Teachers College (for science teachers only) and Kenyatta and Nairobi Universities (mostly for liberal arts teacher training). All programs at these institutions offer a secondary school teacher's diploma. Training for primary teachers is handled by other agencies under the Kenya Institute of Education. Though the need for science teachers is very high, the requirements to enter such a training institution make them very selective and competitive, which makes this choice a difficult one. The other teaching choice is to join a two-year liberal arts teacher training college that offers a teaching diploma in liberal arts. A secondary school graduate can also get a teaching job as an untrained teacher (UQT) that offers an opportunity to teach while pursuing training for certification. This option has been made available through continued education programs at the universities in order to meet the high demand for teachers.

There are several middle-level colleges, both public and private that offer national and international diploma awards in a wide field of professions. These are mainly located in the larger towns. There are five public universities, which mainly admit KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) students. In addition, there are eight private universities that mainly offer business, humanities, and other arts courses.

University Education in Kenya: In 1961 the Royal College in Nairobi was elevated to university college status. As the first step towards the introduction and development of university education in Kenya, the college entered into a special arrangement with the University of London, which enabled it to prepare students for the degrees of the University of London under the establishment of the University of East Africa. In 1963, the Royal College became the University College of Nairobi. Makerere University in Uganda and the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania were the other constituent colleges of the University of East Africa. The University of East Africa continued operating until 1970 when the University College of Nairobi attained university status, becoming simply the University of Nairobi ( 2001).

In 1970 Kenyatta College was made a constituent college of the University of Nairobi; however, the University of Nairobi remained the only university in Kenya until the mid-1980s. Since then, there has been a tremendous expansion in universities in response to the high demand for university education in Kenya. The country now has five public universities, with the most recently established universities emphasizing technology and science-oriented degree programs. In addition to the five public universities, there are 10 private universities in the country offering a wide range of degree programs. They are supervised and controlled by the Commission for Higher Education, under the Ministry of Education.

The public universities are funded partly by the government and partly by the students. The students are required to pay a certain number of fees per semester, which include tuition fees, registration fees and accommodation fees. The students pay for their own meals and supplies and so require substantial amounts of pocket money. The government has a financial program that provides assistance to students, which is carried out by the Higher Education Loans Board. Students can apply for loans, which they can pay back after graduating and attaining employment.

The following are the public universities in Kenya: Egerton University, Kenyatta University, the University of Nairobi, Moi University, Maseno University College, and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Public universities have limited admission so competition for admission is fierce.

Students who do not qualify for the public universities can enroll in the private universities, which require students to finance their studies without any financial assistance. The Higher Education Loans Board offers limited assistance for students attending private universities. The following are some of the private universities in Kenya: Africa Nazarene University, University of Eastern Africa-Baraton, Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Daystar University, United States International University-Africa, and Kenya Methodist University.

Vocational Education: Postsecondary education centers in Kenya known as polytechnics started as shadow system forms of education. According to Court and Ghai (1974) "The shadow systems have meaning firstly in the extent to which they may complement the formal system by meeting needs which it is not covering, and in the extent to which they display principles which may have a wider application in the national system." Court and Ghai further explain that these shadow systems were created as alternative forms of education with the claim that, due to their flexibility, they were able to be more responsive to the needs of individuals than the existing educational institutions. Given the period the shadow systems were introduced, they were also seen as having potential to challenge the formal system, which was not accommodating the masses. Thus, they were seen as having the potential to act as a catalyst in reforming the formal system.

In Kenya the shadow system of education came to be known as village polytechnics, which later became a postsecondary semiformal schooling system. Between 1966 and 1972 there were more than 53 village polytechnics involved in training high school graduates in various vocational subjects (e.g., carpentry, accounts, welding, mechanics, catering, and teaching), leading to certificates or diploma awards ( 2001). Village polytechnics started as low-cost, postprimary training centers in rural areas. At the time they were created, Kenya was producing about 100,000 primary school graduates each year that could not be employed in the modern sector of the economy. With the spirit of self-help it was believed that village polytechnics could be part of a solution to the problem presented by formal schooling, and as a means to alleviate unemployment. Court and Ghai (1974) contend that, since the village polytechnics included a diversity of activities, techniques, and organizations, it was more appropriate to treat them as an ideological movement than as an institutional prescription. In essence, they were introducing a new ideology that was an antithesis of the formal system.

Court and Ghai (1974) describe the elements and the differences between the village polytechnic and the formal secondary school system in terms of: dimensions, catchments and service, recruitment criteria, capital facilities, curriculum, medium of instruction, standards, form of instruction, leadership, organization, time period, national administration, and responsibility for graduates. Some of the key differences include: the formal system was national while village polytechnics were local; the formal system was expensive while village polytechnics were low-cost; the curriculum in the formal system was standardized and group-oriented while the village polytechnics were unbounded and individualized; the medium of instruction was English in the formal system while in the polytechnics it was vernacular and Swahili; and the formal system involved classroom teaching while the village polytechnics had an on-the-job learning focus.

In the late 1990s, the village polytechnic centers seemed to lose drive and significance, mainly due to a poor economy. While no longer viewed as village polytechnics, as most are located in cities, the main polytechnic institutions that are still in operation in Kenya include: Kaloleni Youth Polytechnic, Lamu Youth Polytechnic, Mazeras Village Polytechnic, the Mombasa Polytechnic, Mwanjila Youth Polytechnic, Mathare Youth Polytechnic, and the Kenya Polytechnic.

There are also colleges that started as polytechnics and then converted to colleges, including Strathmore College of Accounts and IT, Utalii College, Kenya College of Communication Technology, and Bungoma Bible School. These colleges are examples of what was feared by formal education advocates, that polytechnics would replace the formal educational system institutions. To some extent this actually happened, which helped triggered the formal education reform movement. However, most of the changes in the formal educational system were instituted due to economic and management concerns.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Kenya's government is divided into ministries that deal with different government affairs. The office of the president and the vice president are in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Heritage and Sports. Each ministry has a minister, assistant ministers and a permanent secretary. In 1999 a commission on government reform was appointed to restructure the civil service in all the ministries. Before streamlining the government there were more than 15 ministries, which included: Ministry of Home Affairs, Heritage and Sports; Ministry of Finance and Planning; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; Ministry of Labor and Human Resource Development; Ministry of Information, Transport and Communications; Ministry of Energy; Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry; Ministry of Roads and Public Works; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Local Government; Ministry of Lands and Settlement; and the Office of the Attorney-General.

Sifuna (1990) reports that, in the late 1950s, the number of Europeans students started to decline in the European segregated schools as their parents left Kenya due to constitutional changes that gave Africans more power. The colonial government attempted to provide multiracial education at different levels. The first initiatives were taken in 1957 when several schools started to admit African students, including Hill Primary School in Nairobi, which was partially financed by the Colonial Development and the Welfare Fund from London; and the Outward Bound School at Loitoktok, which invited a multiracial group of students to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Most European and Asian schools began to integrate their schools just prior to independence in 1963, admitting Africans who could afford to pay fees or qualified for government bursaries.

After independence, there was increased internal pressure for better education, which became a major political agenda along with land redistribution. The newly independent Kenyan government was faced with a tremendous task of modernizing and increasing efficiency of the government administration system that required specialized training for the developing commercial and industrial sector. This task required a high level education that many Africans did not have. Also, the government had to figure out how to manage the large, rural economy. For fear of academic education being equated to elitism, emphasis was focused on the primary and secondary levels. In developing new educational policies, the government had to deal with other factors that affected the social welfare of the country.

First, the inherited educational system had developed rapidly preceding independence. The system also had racial and regional inequalities with rigid school curriculum and examination patterns that were based on an outdated and irrelevant British model. Second, the government was faced with the need to create national unity, reinforcement of cultural identity, and reduction on reliability of foreign assistance. The third issue was economic constraints that affected the educational development.

There are aspects of educational development that have evolved with the help of foreign agencies, such as the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE), a government institution supported by the Danish government (DANIDA). The institute was formally established through legal Notice No 17 of 14 February 1986. KISE provides educational assistance to disabled children, youth, and adults. The main functions of KISE are training teachers and other personnel to work in the field of special education; functioning as a resource center for the production and dissemination of information on handicaps; offering educational and psychological assessment for children with handicaps; and administering distance education courses.

Nonformal Education

Nonformal education (Elimu ya Gumbaru ) was previously under the Ministry of Social and Cultural Affairs, but was moved under the Ministry of Labor and Human Resource Development. There are other nongovernmental agencies (NGO) that serve as nonformal education resources, such as the Ministry of Culture and Social Services, which was created to provide services to help eliminate illiteracy among Kenyan adults.

During the fifteenth anniversary of Kenya's independence in 1978, President Daniel Arap Moi decreed that a national program be launched to eradicate illiteracy. The Department of Adult Education in the Ministry of Culture and Social Services was then established to spearhead the promotion of literacy and adult education. It included 3,000 full-time adult education teachers. Another 5,000 part-time teachers and many volunteers provided their services after short induction training courses in adult education. Since most adult education teachers had not received adequate training as teachers per se, the training courses helped prepare them to become effective facilitators in the literacy and adult education program. The courses for adult education teachers were a joint venture between the Kenya Institute of Education, the Department of Adult Education, the College of Adult and Distance Education, and the University of Nairobi ( 2001).

The University of Nairobi has a faculty of external degree studies program that was established in its distance teaching program in 1985. The faculty is part of the College of Adult and Distance Education (CADE), which is one of the six colleges of the University of Nairobi. It is located at Kikuyu Campus outside of Nairobi. The program started within the Department of Education to train teachers in arts and later in science subjects. There are future plans to include implementation of legal and business studies. The University of Nairobi faculty also assists with the training of staff who work in the program, along with other organizations that are involved in distance teaching programs, such as AMREF (African Medical Research Foundation), Kenyan Cooperative College, and INADES Formation, which respectively provide courses for health workers, cooperative personnel, and farmers.

The staff of the faculty of external degree studies have also organized training in several countries in Africa including Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Somali, Botswana, Mauritius, Tanzania, and Swaziland (kenyaweb. com 2001). Specific program objectives of the external degree studies program are to provide learning opportunities for those aspiring Kenyans who cannot secure places in the existing internal faculties of universities; an alternative and innovative method of learning; an opportunity for people to learn at their own pace; and an opportunity to maximize the use of limited educational resources by making university education available beyond the lecture halls. Courses taught in the distance education mode include the bachelor of education (arts), bachelor of education (science), and a postgraduate diploma in education.

Arts courses include subjects in education, geography, mathematics, economics, business studies, history, religious studies, English literature, and Kiswahili. Science courses include biology, chemistry, physics, and home science. The program takes six years to complete. Entry requirements for the degree program are the same as for the rest of the University of Nairobi. All students with prescribed entry qualifications for admission are eligible. Applicants for the postgraduate diploma must hold a degree in at least two teaching subjects and have a minimum of two years teaching experience.

The academic year consists of two semesters of 13 or 15 weeks, with the year beginning in June. External students are expected to take examinations at the same time as internal students. These examinations are usually taken at the end of each academic year. External students need to notify the dean of the faculty at least three months in advance if they are ready to take an examination in any of the units they have studied.

Unit cost per student is usually estimated at being 14 percent less than it is for internal students. The classes are taught in English.

Teaching Profession

There were initiatives aimed at producing teachers to meet demand in Kenya and East Africa before Kenya's independence. One of the initiatives was the 1960 Teachers for East Africa Project (TEA), a joint Anglo-America initiative to provide secondary schools teachers for the rapidly expanding schools in East Africa. A conference was held in December 1960 in the U.S. state of New Jersey by the American Council on Education to secure secondary teachers for East Africa. After the conference, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) financed the project and the Teachers College of Colombia University recruited the candidates. Makerere University College in Uganda also launched a postgraduate diploma course for British teachers who did not have teaching qualifications. After the completion of the course the teachers were posted to teach in East African schools that included Kenya.

To become a teacher before independence, one had to complete only eight years of schooling. The change from the 4-4 to the 7-4-2-3 system after independence increased the need for more teacher training institutions. In 1969 there were 24 primary teacher training colleges and two main universities. The number of trained teachers increased from 2,400 in 1969 to 2,500 in 1970. In order to meet the demand created by the 1970-1974 educational development plan that almost doubled school enrollment, the number of trained teachers jumped from 2,900 to 3,475 between 1971 and 1974.

Kenyatta and Nairobi Universities and Kenya Science Teachers College trained the secondary school teachers. By 1969 the total number of trained secondary school teachers from the three institutions was 380, with a shortage of teachers amounting to 1,449. The 1970-1974 educational development plan aspired to increase the total number of secondary school teachers from 417 to 670.

Training & Qualifications: Under the Kenya government policy to provide in-service training for unqualified primary school teachers, the Ministry of Education collaborated with the College of Education and External Studies to create a distance learning program so teachers could continue to teach while taking classes. In this venture, the materials were developed and tested before being adopted by the program. Since the early 1980s, the in-service training of primary school teachers through distance learning has become a permanent and parallel feature of teacher training in Kenya.

The Kenya Institute of Education plans to start another training program for qualified and unqualified teachers. The purpose will be to provide additional skills in the administration of schools and in some selected subjects that, according to national examination results, are not being effectively taught. This training will be extended to teachers in polytechnics, as most teachers in the polytechnic institutions do not have any initial formal training. Thus, the training program can help teach them relevant skills, enabling them to be more efficient in the classroom.

The Ministry of Education recruits and sponsors all the students. However, candidates must satisfy the following minimum requirements to become eligible:

  • Candidates must have at least KCE Division 3 or its equivalent
  • Candidates must have taught continuously in a primary school for at least three years
  • Candidates must be in the teaching service as a primary school teacher during the period of the in-service training

There are several levels of teacher certificationP1, P2, and P3. Because of the increased demand for teachers, there are some unqualified teachers (UQT) who are employed without certification and pursue certification as they teach. The UQT program started in 1964 as a correspondence tutorial course offered through radio at the recommendation of the then Kenya Education Commission. The Kenya government sought technical assistance from the USAID to establish the Correspondence Course Unit (CCU) through the Institute of Adult Studies of Nairobi University (then the Nairobi University College). At the time there were 37,923 teachers who were employed in Kenya's primary schools, of those, 10,438 were not professionally trained (certified). Among the qualified 27,485 teachers, there were 16,992 teachers who had P3 status, comprising about 60 percent of the qualified teaching staff and almost 45 percent of the total staff (Court and Ghai 1974).

For P3 qualifications, a teacher must have completed seven to eight years of primary education, depending on when they attended school, plus two years of teacher training. In order to be promoted to P2, a P3 teacher had to pass a required national exam, the Kenya Junior Secondary Examination (KJSE). In 1969 the Kenya Institute of Education collaborated with the Correspondence Course Unit in offering the CCU program along with KJSE preparatory courses to both P3 teachers and other adults who had completed primary education. Although Court and Ghai (1974) noted that the teachers who successfully completed the correspondence course compared well academically and professionally with those who had the formal teacher training from the university colleges, they also asserted that KJSE was not the most suitable curriculum for improving teachers' professional skills.

The Kenya Institute of Education offers a Primary Teacher Certificate through the continuing education program. The certificate takes three years to complete. Required courses for the first two years include professional studies, English, Kiswahili, mathematics, science, and music. Second year courses include the addition of art and craft, agriculture, geography, history, and civics. The third year includes the subjects of professional studies, religious education, physical education, geography, history, civics, and home science. There are additional subjects that are offered in addition to the core curriculum.

All courses are taught in English and the media and methods employed are printed text, radio broadcasts, and residential schools (approximately seven weeks per year). Candidates are awarded the Certificate of Primary Teacher Education only when they have successfully completed three full years of the prescribed course of study. A student who fails to meet the certificate's requirements is allowed to repeat either the examination in the subjects in which they failed to meet the requirement, or perform practical teaching, or both. Grades are accumulated until the requirements for the certificate are met. The certification for teachers are in two classifications: teaching and training skills in general, and primary education, which includes preschool ( 2001).


Historically, the Kenya educational system underwent drastic and rapid changes within a short period. As in most African countries, Kenya has been faced with a fast population growth rate and low economic development that contribute to an environment where the educational system is very competitive and high educational attainment does not guarantee occupational mobility (Buchmann 2000). Kenya has accomplished its goals of educational development since independence, according to the normative and organizational triumph of mass schooling theory. The promotion of education, along with credential inflation, resulted in the slow growth of wage employment and an overabundance of educated job seekers. As Buchmann (2000) points out, the result has been a highly expanded educational system that rivals those in the most industrialized countries in terms of its complexity and competitiveness. At the same time the strength of extended kinship networks and the prevalence of polygyny along with a high demand of agricultural economic base indicates very little has changed for the better.

The educational system in Kenya alienated the masses from their traditional cultural ways, which served as the fabric to sustain a healthy climate in the society. Thus, the educational impact on society has resulted in corruption and institutional breakdown, lack of infrastructure to utilize the human capital available, and, above all, the disillusionment that education does not equal economic or social mobility. As a result, education has become a handicap, leading to oppressive social, economic, and psychological conditions. The symptoms that have surfaced are a decline in ethnic pride, patriotism, and the attitude that "what is Kenyan has no value, but that which is imported is much better," and urban life is better than rural. Another impact is the loss of skilled workers who cannot flee to other countries for improved economic conditions. The future of the Kenyan educational system is uncertain; however, the Kenyan people appear to still believe in education as progress, and future reforms may consider including character education, which would foster moral ethics and a revitalization of indigenous cultures.


Buchmann, Claudia. "Family Structure, Parental Perceptions, and Child Labor in Kenya: What Factors Determine Who is Enrolled in School." Social Forces 78 Issue 4 (2000): 1349-79.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Fact-book 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available form

Court, D. and Ghai, D. P. Education Society and Development: New Perspectives from Kenya. Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1974.

Ehusani, George, O. An Afro-Christian Vision "Ozovehe": Toward A More Humanized World. Lanham: University Press of America, 1991.

Embassy of the Republic of Kenya. 2001. Available from

Kenya Information Center, The. Kenya Education. 2000. Available from 2001. Available from

Mbiti, J. S. African Religions and Philosophy. 2nd ed. Portsmouth: Heinemann, 1992.

Quyum, Abdul. Kenya Government Organization 2000. Available from

Rharade, A. "Educational Reform in Kenya." Prospects Quarterly Review of Comparative Education XXVII, Issue 101 (March 1997): p 162-178.

Sifuna, Daniel, N. Development of Education in Africa: The Kenya Experience. Nairobi: Initiative Publishers, 1990.

University of Pennsylvania. Living Encyclopedia for Kenya. 2001. Available from

P. Masila Mutisya

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Republic of Kenya

Major Cities:
Nairobi, Mombasa

Other Cities:
Eldoret, Garissa, Kisumu, Lamu, Malindi, Nakuru, Nanyuki, Nyeri, Thika


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated February 1997. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


Kenya offers an interesting political and economic situation, a modern capital by African standards, an enjoyable climate, varied sports facilities, good schools, and year-round availability of fresh meats and produce.

Wild animals can be found minutes from downtown Nairobi, and lodges and game parks abound. Along with elephants, lions, zebras, and rhinoceroses, Kenya has more species of exotic, colorful birds than are known in most other countries. Driving in Kenya gives access to the parks and lakes, as well as to a fascinating variety of local cultures. Some 60,000 American tourists come here for vacations each year.

Archeologists believe human existence began here perhaps 2.9 million years ago. The famous Leakey family of paleontologists continues to work at various sites throughout Kenya to learn more about man's origin and ancestors.

Kenya has a great deal to offer Americans who are willing to take advantage of it.



With a population of about 2,320,000, Nairobi has a modern downtown with an assortment of hotels, international restaurants, shops of all kinds, tree-lined streets, lovely flowering plants year round, and handsome residential areas.

The city is a mixture of Europe, Asia, and Africa, with the latter becoming increasingly prominent economically due, in part, to the government's systematic program of business "indigenization."

Nairobi is a busy financial center as well as a jumping-off place for safaris in search of game animals. Hunting is prohibited, but photographic safaris are popular. Tourists come through Nairobi by the thousands en route Kenya's many national parks and preserves. About 50,000 American tourists visit Kenya each year.

Traffic is congested during business hours and hazardous at all times. The downtown section can be covered by foot. Residential areas are spread out over the city with driving time to offices varying from 10 to 45 minutes. Downtown parking is inadequate during business hours.

Nairobi has changed dramatically since independence. Many modern office buildings and hotels including the Kenyatta Conference Center mark the changing skyline. This 26-story structure contains offices and conference facilities. The downtown area has an elevation of 5,400 feet, but some residential areas are located at over 6,000 feet. Nairobi is 87 miles south of the Equator and some 300 miles west of the Indian Ocean.


Food in Nairobi, in general, is fairly expensive. Fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful year round, including such items as strawberries, mushrooms, ginger root, asparagus, and avocados. The growing season is year round, and some people grow many of their own vegetables. Tropical fruits such as mangoes, pawpaws, and pineapples are available in season. Temperate Zone fruits such as apples, peaches, pears, and grapes are grown here as well as imported.

A few frozen items are available, but only in the larger stores. Fish, beef, mutton, and lamb are usually available. Chicken, turkey, and pork are available, but are more expensive than in the U.S.

Butter, cream, eggs, and pasteurized milk in sealed containers are of good quality. Kenyan yogurt, sour cream, and cheese differ significantly in taste from their American equivalents.

Because of the liberalization of import restrictions, you can purchase almost anything you need locally. Most of these imported items are, however, very expensive. Many products imported from South Africa are quite good and reasonably priced. There are occasionally shortages of maize (corn) meal, butter, milk, and sugar.

Soy milk or formula is not usually available for babies with allergies. Some infant formulas can be bought in powdered form but, are scarce and often outdated. Strained and pureed foods are almost never available. Families with young babies may want to make their own baby food with a blender or a hand grinder.


Clothing is expensive in Kenya and often inferior in quality. Bring a fairly complete wardrobe for warm weather and the cooler season. Local shoes are sold in Nairobi, but to be sure of good quality and fit, bring shoes from the U.S. Bring shoes with closed toes as well as sandals. People with narrow feet find it impossible to buy shoes that fit. Shirts, socks, and underwear are of inferior quality, very expensive, or both. Hats to protect against the sun are a must.

Nights in Nairobi are chilly, but you will not need a winter coat. The lowest temperature recorded in 25 years was about 40° F, but the mean minimum for the coldest month, July, is 52° F. You will need some summer clothes as the days become quite warmthe daily maximum in the warmest months is about 82° Fand a trip to the coast and to other parts of Kenya at lower altitude will require summer clothing. A ski jacket or some warm clothing is a good idea for going on safari to places at high altitudes.

Men: American light-and medium-weight suits or sports coats are worn most of the year. Heavy wool suits and overcoats are not needed, but sweaters and a lightweight raincoat come in handy. For the warm season, tropical worsted and washable suits are useful. Light informal cotton clothing is suggested for the coast.

Men's summer suits and suiting are available in a limited range. Suit styles made by local tailors are different and tailoring questionable. Safari suits can be purchased ready-made or can be made by a local tailor at a reasonable price. They are used for informal occasions as well as for travel.

Women: Lightweight wools, cottons, polyesters, silks, and knits are worn in Nairobi. Evenings are cool, furs are not normally worn, and Nairobi has no fur storage facilities.

In general, informal fabrics and styling are more suitable than elegant clothing, and colorful prints are worn. For evening, long and short casual cottons and jerseys as well as pantsuits are used for dinners, receptions, and at-home entertaining. Some women have a few dresses made in an African print by a local tailor. These are attractive and relatively inexpensive. Ready-made clothing is generally costly.

For daytime, slacks, jacket and skirt, and dress and sweater are most suitable. The weather can change during the day from very cool in the morning to hot at noon, to cool again, so sweaters and lightweight suits are useful. The wide range of casual and sports clothes available in the U.S. cannot be found.

Riding is popular, but riding clothes and boots are costly. Tennis dresses and bathing suits are also expensive. Lingerie and panty hose are of poor quality and expensive.

A lightweight raincoat is useful during the rainy seasons. Local rubber boots are available.

Children: Children's clothes are available, but are limited in variety, inferior in quality, and much more expensive than American brands. Some American styles in jeans and shirts are available at double the U.S. price. Underwear and socks purchased locally are of poor quality and do not wear well. Children's dress clothes are seldom worn.

Since nights are cold, warm sleepers for infants are advised. Heavyweight blanket sleepers for babies and young children are not sold in Nairobi. Boots can be purchased here.

Mediumweight clothing and sweaters are essential for Nairobi's cooler seasons. Sunsuits are useful for small children during the warm seasons and holidays at the coast.

Cloth diapers available in Nairobi are made of terry toweling and are not as good as American brands. Disposable diapers are available, but are very expensive.

Local Bata (brand) tennis shoes are available, but quality is poor. Special shoes for soccer and other sports are expensive.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services: Most basic services are available. Barbers and beauticians compare to those in the U.S. Among Nairobi's tailors and dressmakers, you will find some who do good work. Drycleaning is fair but not always dependable. Kid and suede cannot be cleaned here.

Religious Activities

Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Dutch Reformed, Church of Scotland (Presbyterian), Church of the Province of Kenya (Episcopalian), Lutheran, Methodist, Seventh Day Adventist, Baptist, Church of Christ, United (Methodist, Presbyterian, and Anglican), Christian Scientist, Jewish, Quaker, Pentecostal, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Hindi, Islamic, and Sikh places of worship can be found in Nairobi.


The Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges accredits the secondary, middle, and elementary schools of the International School of Kenya.

The Kenyan school system is composed of Standards I-VIII equivalent to American grades 1-8, and Forms I-VI, roughly equivalent to American high school. This Kenyan system prepares students for a series of standard government examinations: The Certificate of Primary Education examination at the end of Standard VIII; and the high school certificate at the end of Form IV.

The International School of Kenya (ISK), PO Box 14103, Nairobi, is a coed school for prekindergarten through grade 12, located about 8 miles (out Peponi Road) from the city center on 45 acres of a coffee plantation.

The elementary (prekindergarten through grade 5) core curriculum includes language, arts, science, social studies, and mathematics. This is supplemented by a special program offering art, music, swimming (girls must wear one-piece swimsuits), physical education, computers, French and Spanish for grades 1-5, and an elective activity program once a week. The middle school (6-8) continues this program and provides preparation for high school.

The high school's program is primarily college preparatory with both required and elective courses in English, social studies, mathematics, the sciences, and physical education.

Language offerings include French and Spanish, with German at the more advanced levels. Elective courses in fine arts, art, drama, typing, business, and computers, and an International Baccalaureate/Honors program are also available. Of special note is an extensive field trip program available to students through ISK's Intercultural Program as well as the east African history class and extracurricular activities. ISK has science laboratories and a library, well stocked with books, current publications, and an AV system including a video system. The school also provides specialized services through its counselor, the learning resource center, and English as a Second Language Program. Extracurricular activities are many, examples being the National Honor Society, three school publications, an annual school musical, and an extensive intramural sports program.

To enter kindergarten, a child must be 5 years of age by September 15. Bus transportation is optional, serving the greater part of Nairobi. A snackbar on campus sells lunches, snacks, and drinks.

Testing programs include ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) given to elementary and middle scholars every year, PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test), SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), SAT Achievement Tests, and ACT (American College Testing Program) exams are given regularly through the American Cultural Center. Achievements, ACT (American College Testing Program), and IB exams are made available to college-bound upperclassmen.

The ISK was jointly purchased under the auspices of the U.S. and Canadian Governments in 1976 and is incorporated under Kenyan law. Seven diplomatic officers of the American Embassy and the Canadian High Commission form the school's Board of Governors, which has delegated responsibility for determining school policy to a 9-member Board of Directors, 6 of whom are elected by the parents and 3 appointed by the Board of Governors. The superintendent is the executive officer of the Board and is responsible for the organization, operation, and administration of the total school program. The superintendent is aided by the principals of the three schools, a counselor, and a professional staff of 50 full-time and 10 part-time teachers. Faculty members must be certified and experienced teachers; most are American or British trained.

Rift Valley Academy, Kijabe, Kenya, a boarding school, is located on the slopes of the Great Rift Valley, 50 kilometers from Nairobi off the Nakuru Road. It was founded in 1906 for missionaries' children, and still caters to these, but accepts other foreign students when space is available. It follows the American program of studies from grades 1 to 12. The secondary department is fully accredited by the Middle States Accreditation Association of the U.S. The principal emphasis of the academic program is on college preparatory courses. Additional classes are offered, however, in graphic arts, home economics, typing, mechanical drawing, industrial arts, and music. Three choirs, a band, and a number of smaller musical groups provide opportunity for many students to develop their talents in music. Private instruction is also offered on individual instruments. Nonmissionary enrollment is limited, and the final decisions are made on or about June 15 for September admission.

Other Schools Available in Nairobi include:

  • Banda School, P.O. Box 24772, Nairobi, Kenya; Tel. 891220/ 891689, on the Magadi Road off Langata Road. Coed, primary 5-13 years of age. British syllabus. UK Common Entrance at 11, 12, and 13. Waiting list.
  • Braeburn House, PO Box 45112, Tel. 566350, Gitanga Road. Coed, primary 5-13 years. CPE and Common Entrance syllabus.
  • Cavina School, PO Box 43090, Tel. 566011, Argwings Kodhek Road Boys primary 6-13 years. Common Entrance syllabus. Basically Christian outlook.
  • Consolata School, PO Box 14538, Tel. 43537, Chiromo Road. Coed primary, CPE syllabus.
  • Greenacres School, PO Box 46919, Tel. Redhill 254, Limuru Road. Coed primary. British syllabus. Girls only secondary, boarding and day. GCE London O levels.
  • Hillcrest School, PO Box 30365, about 8 miles from city center. Coed elementary. Pupils are prepared for Common Entrance Examination and for Hillcrest Secondary School. School year begins in January.
  • Hillcrest Secondary School, PO Box 24819, on Langata Road in Karen. Coed, high school. British syllabus. School year begins in January.
  • Kestral Manor School, PO Box 14489, Nairobi, is located on Ring Road in the Westlands area of Nairobi. It is coed for children ages 3 to 9 and offers British education methods in an open classroom environment. The school is very child centered with many British, American, and Australian students.
  • Kenton College, PO Box 30017, Tel. 560260. Boys' and girls' preparatory school. Ages 6-14. Follows multinational British syllabus. Boarding and day pupils.
  • Nairobi Academy, PO Box 24817, Tel. 891281, Langata Road. Coed, primary and secondary. CPE and Common Entrance Syllabus.
  • Rosslyn Academy, P.O. Box 14146, Coed, grades 1 to 7. Run by Mennonite and Baptist Missions, but is nondenominational. Boarding through grade 6. School year follows American schedule.
  • St. Mary's School, PO Box 40580, Coed elementary. British syllabus. Day school. School year begins in January.
  • Strathmore College, PO Box 25095, boys' high school. British syllabus. Day school. School year begins in January.

Nursery Schools: Nursery schools in most neighborhoods take children from age 2-3 and often continue through grades 1 or 2. These schools operate primarily in the mornings, but some will also care for children in the afternoons. In addition, informal play groups, organized by mothers of small children, meet one morning each week with all the mothers sharing responsibility for planning and implementing a program that provides a positive experience for the children.

Special Educational Opportunities

The Church of the Province of Kenya Language School, located on Bishops Road, offers Swahili courses with several options for time and meeting, including evenings.

Alliance Francaise and the French Cultural Center, both located at Loita/Monrovia Streets, offer courses in French at varying levels of proficiency.

The Italian Cultural Institute in the Prudential Assurance Building, on Wabera Street, offers conversational courses and intensive elementary courses.

International University-Africa, PO Box 14634, Nairobi, is affiliated with the U.S. International University in San Diego, California. Located about 20 minutes from downtown Nairobi, it specializes in business administration and human behavior and is fully accredited. Students attending the Nairobi campus can earn an Associate of Arts (AA, 2-year course) in business or general studies. Courses are also offered leading to bachelor's degrees in business administration, human behavior, or international relations. Students who are accepted by the University in Nairobi may transfer to any campus of the University to continue their studies. Other campuses are located in San Diego, London, and Mexico City. In addition to undergraduate courses, a graduate program leading to a Master of Science in management and organizational development is offered in Nairobi. New students are accepted each term. You should apply as early as possible before the term in which you wish to attend, preferably 6 months. For additional information, write to the International University-Africa, PO Box 14634, Nairobi, Kenya, or U.S. International University, 10455 Pomerado Road, San Diego, Calif. 92131.

The University of Nairobi, PO Box 30197, Nairobi, has formal arrangements with some universities in the U.S. for a l-year exchange program. Schools currently participating in the program are the University of California system, Kalamazoo College, and Pennsylvania State University. The University has no openings for foreigners at undergraduate levels due to the great demand for places by Kenyans. No auditing is allowed because of space limitations. Postgraduates who have a special need to do work in Kenya because of their area of study can attend the University as an "occasional student" for 1 year.

Institute of Adult Studies in the Extra-Mural Division of the University of Nairobi, PO Box 30197, Nairobi, offers evening courses with enrollment open to non-Kenyans as well as Kenyans. Courses offered include accounting, computer programming, business administration, commerce, economics, mathematics, statistics (related to CPA), marketing, history, geography, French, Kiswahili, German, Arabic, car maintenance, and personnel management. Classes are offered three terms during the year, beginning in January, May, and September.

The Goethe Institute, Makioki, and UNEP offer language classes.


A wide variety of outdoor sports is available in Kenya. Nairobi clubs offer swimming, tennis, squash, golf (very good 18-hole courses), and other sports. Some membership fees are expensive. Fishing and mountain climbing are popular upcountry, and the coast provides some excellent swimming, water skiing, sailing, wind surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and deep-sea fishing. Facilities for badminton, hockey, polo, soccer, rugby, cricket, bowling-on-the-green, judo, water polo, fencing, and gocarting are available. Many children and adults ride horses or take riding lessons. Informal softball leagues and football games are held in the dry seasons. Hunting other than birds is banned in Kenya. Sports equipment can be expensive and one should bring an adequate supply.

Planes may be rented at slightly higher than American prices and an FAA private pilot's license may be converted to a Kenyan license with little difficulty. Pilots should bring their FAA license, log books, and FCC radio license. CAA certified instructors and examiners are available and FAA medical and biennial reviews can be obtained.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Kenya is famed as a tourist paradise, and most Americans take advantage of the wildlife industry. The scenery and wildlife are magnificent. You can drive yourself; go on a totally organized safari; or fly to many places. Almost all the country's game parks and reserves are within reasonable driving distance from Nairobi.

Accommodations at the parks and reserves are designed to meet the tastes of almost everyone. If a visitor likes to "rough it," campsites and self-service bandas (cabins) are available. For those who consider comfort more important, lodges and tented camps provide a touch of luxury.

Equipment is available in Nairobi to purchase or rentbut prices are high, and the availability of certain items is limited. A local fuel, white gas, is currently available for American-brand camp stoves. A different type of camp stove using gas canisters is sold here. Paper plates and cups are sometimes available in the local stores.

Fishing enthusiasts should bring their gear. Lake Naivasha, just 55 miles from Nairobi, offers great widemouth bass fishing. You can rent bungalows on the lake, and a hotel is also available. Stream fishing (fly only) for trout is available in the high country near Mount Kenya and in the Aberdare Nyandarua Range. Fishing flies are available locally.

Reasonably priced bandas located at several parks in Kenya can be reserved, far in advance, from tourist offices in Nairobi. The bandas contain beds (you may bring your own linens or rent them there for a small fee) and simply equipped kitchens. Again, your own cooler would be handy. Some bandas have cooking utensils and dishes.

For a beach holiday on Kenya's coast, 300 miles from Nairobi, there is a choice of luxury beach hotels, family-type hotels, rented beach houses, or tent sites on the beach. Most beach hotels offer discounts during the off season. Many beach houses are also available to rent from private individuals for short holidays at reasonable prices.

As might be expected, Kenya is a photographer's paradise. If you have a specific camera in mind, purchase it in the U.S. as availability in Kenya is limited. Cameras, tele-photo lenses, filters, tripods, and projectors can also be rented. Prices vary from shop to shop. Both black-and-white and color film are available, but prices are high compared to those in the U.S.


While Nairobi has several movie theaters, they are not generally frequented by Americans. Concerts and theater productions are presented at the National Theater and the French Cultural Center. The Phoenix Players in the Professional Center. has a fine repertory company and a number of amateur groups offer surprisingly good productions. Restaurants, casinos, large hotels with dinner-dancing, and numerous small nightclubs are available.

Social Activities

Many opportunities to meet Kenyans and nationals of other countries are afforded through official contact, sports clubs, service groups, and other associations. The USIS American Cultural Center, besides its 7,000-volume library, has an exhibit hall which offers lectures by visiting Americans, seminars, and other activities. The American Women's Association, through its service activities, offers many such opportunities, as do the National Christian Council of Kenya, Rotary International, East Africa Women's League, the local Consumers Organization, the National Museum Society, church and school groups, and many other such organizations. There is a Boy Scouts of America troop associated with ISK.


With a population of 465,000, Mombasa is Kenya's other large and cosmopolitan city, and the country's chief port. Its harbor, Kilindini, on the Indian Ocean, is one of Africa's best. For several centuries, the city was a center for slave and ivory trade.

One of Kenya's oldest settlements, Mombasa was settled by Arabs in the 11th century and, in 1498, was visited by the Portuguese navigator, Vasco da Gama, during his first voyage to India. Portugal held control until late in the 17th century, when the city was regained by Arabs; it later became part of the Sultanate of Zanzibar. Mombasa passed to Great Britain as a protectorate in 1887 and, for two decades, was headquarters of the British Administration of Kenya.

The city retains much of the flavor of bygone eras. Massive Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese in 1593, broods over the old harbor where dhows from Arabia still drop anchor. The oldest section of the city, where streets are too narrow for cars, blends the bazaars and mosques of the east with the mystery of Africa. Old Mombasa melds into a plethora of small shops, houses, and apartment buildings that constitute most of the present-day city. Here, the principal thoroughfares host a number of modern stores, as well as the stalls of hundreds of souvenir hawkers.

Mombasa is a multi-racial city. Most of its citizens are Swahiliclearly African, but of mixed ancestry. Up country Kenyans have come in large numbers to work in government, industry, and on the docks. There are a dozen distinct Asian and Arab communities, whose members are mostly in business. A substantial resident European community and a smaller expatriate community completes the census.

The city is a thriving commercial port serving all of East Africa. It is also a liberty port for U.S. Navy ships in the Indian Ocean. American sailors, along with thousands of tourists from Europe, enjoy the amenities of Kenya's luxurious beach hotels and the safaris to nearby national parks and reserves.

Traffic in Mombasa is congested during rush hours, and driving standards are poor. The downtown section can be covered on foot, but since most Americans live in Nyali, which is about 20 minutes from Mombasa, a car is necessary.

Mombasa's temperature is fairly constanthot and humid. The average daily temperature is about 85°F and the humidity rarely drops below 77 percent.


No American-curriculum school operates in Mombasa. Two British-oriented schools are used by most expatriate students, but neither has a complete secondary department.

Mombasa Academy, in the American residential area of Nyali, is a private, coeducational institution with a multi-racial student body of several hundred. The challenging secondary curriculum is geared toward the London General Certificate of Education (GCE), and the faculty is principally British. Sports, swimming, music, and theater are offered. About 20 children comprise each class.

Coast Academy is a private school located on the island of Mombasa. It is slightly smaller than Mombasa Academy, but has a similar academic program. Many American children from the American missionary community living in Mombasa have attended the Coast Academy.

Recreation and Entertainment

The sea provides opportunities for sailing, windsurfing, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and other water sports. Several sports clubs in the city offer golf, squash, cricket, and tennis. Mombasa's hot (average, 85°F) and humid climate limits the hours of strenuous exercise to early morning and late afternoon. Mombasa has a well-organized yacht club.

Several excellent restaurants in Mombasa's many hotels on the coast, and a wide variety of others, cater to the tourist trade. Hotels organize discos and other entertainment for guests and are open to the public.

Mombasa's moderately clean movie theaters show recent American films. A local theater club stages several dramatic productions each year. Social life is relaxed and informal.


ELDORET lies on the Uasin Gishu Plateau, about 200 miles northwest of Nairobi. Located in an agricultural area of western Kenya, Eldoret was a haven for Europeans in colonial times. Its temperate climate makes the city a leading agricultural and cattle raising area. Local industries include flour-milling and food-processing plants. The railroad to Uganda stops in Eldoret. Eldoret's population in 2000 was approximately 105,000.

Located 215 miles (350 km) east of Nairobi, GARISSA is a market town on the Tana River. Primary industries include food processing, beverages, plastics, and tobacco products.

KISUMU , in Kenya's western region, is a major inland port, industrial, commercial, and transportation center, and Kenya's third largest city. It is situated on the shores of Victoria Nyanza, the world's third largest lake (after the Caspian Seaan inland salt lakeand Lake Superior in North America). Kisumu, whose population was estimated at 185,000 in 2000, was called Port Florence in earlier times. Asians once comprised more than a quarter of the population, but that number has declined since 1963.

The ancient island town of LAMU ranks as one of Africa's most unique. Located about 150 miles northeast of Mombasa in the Indian Ocean, the town has retained its 18th century atmosphere. Today, Lamu serves as a port and district capital, with tourism as an important industry. The town was the base of the legendary Sinbad the Sailor. In the 19th century, Lamu was an important trading center for gold, spices, and slaves. Steeped in the Swahili culture and a major center of Islamic learning, there are 22 mosques in the city. The Lamu Museum displays items from the varied cultures of the island.

MALINDI is a beach resort town and marine reserve on the east coast, 60 miles north of Mombasa. Its resident population is swelled each autumn by the thousands of tourists who come to take part in Kenya's popular November Sea Festival. Swahili influence is strong in this area.

NAKURU , in west-central Kenya 95 miles (153 kilometers) northwest of Nairobi, is the capital of Rift Valley Province. The city is a busy commercial and transport center. It is the home of Egerton College and the headquarters of the Kenya Farmers Association. The fascinating Lake Nakuru Game Park lies just beyond the city limits. Nakuru has a population of 163,000 (2000 est.).

At the foot of Mount Kenya, in the safari country of the central area, is NANYUKI . This farming town is near the Mount Kenya Safari Club and Game Ranch, Mountain Lodge, and Secret Valley. Rhino, buffalo, occasional leopard and elephant sightings make Nanyuki a tourist favorite.

NYERI is a resort town and agricultural center in the highlands. It lies close to Mount Kenya and Aberdare National Parks. Nearby is the renowned Treetops Hotel where, in comfort and safety, guests can view wild and rare game. In 2000, Nyeri's population was roughly 89,000.

Pineapples and other fruits are the mainstays of THIKA , which is about 25 miles northeast of Nairobi in south-central Kenya. Kenya's High Level Sisal Research Station is in the town, studying the problems of growing sisal, a durable fiber used to make twine. Industries such as textiles, matches, and can production are located in Thika.


Geography and Climate

Kenya is bounded on the north by Ethiopia and Sudan, on the west by Uganda, on the south by Tanzania, and on the east by Somalia and the Indian Ocean. It has an area of 224,960 square miles, about the size of Oregon. The northern and eastern three-fifths of the country is arid. The southern two-fifths, where most of the population and nearly all the economic production is centered, is low-lying coastal area and a plateau varying in altitude from 3,000 to 10,000 feet. Although only about 20 percent of the land is suitable for cultivation, agriculture is the most important economic activity.

The Nairobi area offers the contrasts of green rolling uplands, thorn scrub of the famous game plains, coffee and tea estates, and entry to the Great Rift Valley. Farther afield are the forests and snows of Mount Kenya, the dairy and farm country of the highlands, the tropical beaches of the coastal strip, and the deserts of the northeast.

Nairobi has four seasons, but overall temperature changes are moderate: Mid-December through Marchmainly sunny and warm by day, cool at night, generally dry; April and Mayprincipal rainy season with lower day temperatures; June through Septembermainly dry, but often cloudy and cool, with cool nights; and October and Novembershort rainy season, long sunny periods, warm days and cool nights.

Daily temperature range is great. It can be quite warm at midday in February and March, yet cool in the evening. In July and August, days are cool and nights are cold.

Average annual rainfall in Nairobi is about 1,030.4 millimeters (39 inches), but the actual amount varies widely in any year.


Kenya's population in 2000 was about 29.3 million, of whom approximately 300,000 were non-Africans, principally people from South Asia. About 88 percent of the population live in rural areas. The urban population is centered mainly in greater Nairobi, which has about 2.3 million people, and in Mombasa, which has over 465,000. The standard of living in major urban centers is among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, and the people are proud of their country's development. The largest ethnic groups are Kikuyu (22%), Luo (13%) and Abaluhya (14%).

About 66 percent of Kenya's population is Christian, with a heavy concentration in Nairobi. Another 26 percent or so is animist, and the population of the coastal area is predominantly Moslem, comprising about 7 percent.

Kiswahili and English are the official languages, and English is used in most schools beyond the lower grades. Kiswahili is the more important lingua franca.

Public Institutions

Multi-partyism returned to Kenya in 1991, and in December 1992, multi-party elections were held. The President, Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, was reelected and his Kenya African National Union (KANU) won the majority of parliamentary seats. Elections were again held in 1997, when the president was reelected for another 5 year term and KANU still held the majority in the National Assembly.

The unicameral National Assembly consists of 210 elected representatives, 12 members appointed by the President, and 2 ex officio members. Although local government is under central government control, district and municipal councils retain some responsibilities.

The U.N. and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) maintain important offices in Nairobi. The U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) and the U.N. Center for Human Settlements (HABITAT) have been headquartered in Nairobi since their creation, respectively in 1972 and 1976. Other U.N. bodies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank, the U.N. Information Center, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) maintain regional headquarters in Nairobi. The Red Cross, International Lions, and other philanthropic organizations are similarly represented. The Ford and Rockefeller Foundations have regional headquarters in Nairobi. Many international conferences are held in Nairobi, where the facilities of the Kenyatta Conference Center are available.

Arts, Science, and Education

Nairobi offers a range of cultural institutions and activities. Several organizations offer classes for adults and children in painting, ballet, voice, and instrumental music. French, German, and Italian lessons are available from the Alliance Francaise and the French Cultural Center, the Goethe Institute, and the Italian Cultural Center. Libraries in Nairobi include the National Library and those of the University of Nairobi, the British Council, U.S. Information Service (USIS), the French Cultural Center, the Goethe Institute, and the Nairobi City Council (the MacMillan Library).

Repertory theater is offered by the Phoenix Players and the Kenya National Theater. The University Players and amateur groups present European-and African-oriented plays throughout the year. Nairobi's several movie theaters show mostly Indian and older American and British films. Due to the condition of the theaters and the equipment, most Mission personnel do not frequent them.

The National Museum sponsors the Kenya Museum Society. This society and the East African Natural History Society sponsor lectures and films and organize activities and trips to places of natural and historical interest. Specialized groups, such as the East African Wildlife Society, the Nairobi Photographic Society, and the Nairobi Music Society also exist.

The Kenyan educational system follows the American calendar or 8-4-4 system with a British style system of external examiners. The school year runs from mid-January-mid-December with breaks in April and August. All work leads toward passing the Kenyan primary and secondary examinations. Numerous government, private, and parochial primary and secondary schools can be found here.

The standard American curriculum is offered by the International School of Kenya (grades kindergarten through grade 12), which is well attended. The U.S. International University of San Diego has a campus in Nairobi and offers courses at both the undergraduate and graduate university levels.

The University of Nairobi is strong in many areas. Its curriculum includes arts and sciences, commerce, architecture, and engineering. Kenyatta University focuses on education but offers a university-level curriculum. Two other universities, Moi and Egerton, offer degrees in a variety of subjects. Several private business and commercial colleges in Nairobi offer courses equivalent to American college freshman level. More and more private businesses and commercial colleges are offering computer science courses, some leading to degrees with examinations conducted by British institutions.

Commerce and Industry

Kenya enjoyed rapid and impressive economic growth after gaining independence in 1963. In recent years, real growth in gross domestic product slowed to less than 1 percent per year. Economic reforms since 1999, however, have brightened the economic picture for the future. These combined with a rebound in both tea and coffee prices, Kenya's two largest exports, have helped reduce chronic balance-of-payments deficits. Increases in nontraditional exports such as horticulture have compensated for largely stagnant earnings from Kenya's other important foreign exchange earner, tourism. The debt situation, however, is still problematic. Until the government can meet the conditions of the multilateral financial institutions, Kenya's ability to repay existing debt and receive new development assistance will be compromised.

Domestically, Kenya's economic fortunes have only recently began to recover. Kenya's 2000 population was about 29.3 million. The average Kenyan woman has eight children during her lifetime. By the 1980s the high population growth rate meant lower overall economic growth and stagnation in per capita income for the first time since independence. Rapid population growth also translates into high unemployment, which was estimated at 50% in 2000. The government has acknowledged the need to create millions of new jobs.

The manufacturing sector produces 13 percent of the country's gross national product; the remainder is in agricultural production, roughly 25 percent, and services, 62 percent. Manufactured or assembled products include automobiles, tires, dry cell batteries, and a range of consumer goods. Kenya's limited mineral resources include soda ash and fluorspar. Kenya lacks any significant natural resources other than fertile soil, a hard-working population, and its scenery and wildlife. Nairobi continues to experience rapid expansion in construction, primarily large office buildings, which have produced a world-class skyline.

Although Kenya has encountered new economic hurdles in recent years, it remains something of an economic success story in Africa, especially in comparison to its immediate neighbors. It is largely committed to many of the same economic principles as the U.S.; i.e., a market system with limited government interference in the private sector. Despite its difficulties, Kenya remains the linchpin of the East African economy.



Buses, including informal mini-buses called "matatus," serve most areas of Nairobi, but are rarely used by travelers due to extreme overcrowding and poor mechanical condition. Taxis are difficult to obtain except around the larger tourist hotels. Fares are expensive and should always be negotiated in advance. "Kenatco" company taxis are cleaner and better maintained than ordinary taxis, but their fares are normally higher. Avis, Hertz, and other car rental agencies operate in Nairobi. Daily and monthly rates are considerably higher than those in the U.S.


Nairobi is an international air center. Frequent flights are available for practically any place in the world, as well as regular air service throughout east Africa.

Kenya Railways provides overnight train service from Nairobi to Mombasa and from Nairobi to Kisumu and Kampala, Uganda.

The main road, Mombasa-Nairobi-Kisumu, and other primary roads are paved, but potholes exist on many stretches. The Mombasa-Nairobi road was closed for several days in 1994 due to mud-covered rough sections. Other roads vary in quality. Many are fairly good all-weather dirt roads, others can only be negotiated in four-wheel-drive vehicles. Road accidents are common and are a serious threat to life and limb.

At night, street lights rarely function. The lack of painted center lines or curbs contributes to difficult night driving even in Nairobi. Use extreme caution; defensive driving is essential both in the cities and the countryside. Be sure your car has good seatbelts installed.


Telephone and Telegraph

Nairobi's telephone service is adequate; however, there are occasional breakdowns. International toll call services to the U.S. are available through AT&T, MCI, SPRINT calling card systems, and the local PT&T. International calls to other countries can be made through the local PT&T. FAX and TELEX services are available commercially.

Radio and TV

The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts in both English and Kiswahili but carries little international news. Either the new model shortwave radio with digital readout or the older shortwave radio models with at least six bands is desirable. The Voice of America (VOA) reception is fairly good in the early morning hours and in the evening. VOA broadcasts programs directed to Africa in English called "African Panorama" and "African Safari," as well as programs designed for a worldwide audience. Many other international broadcasts are also received here, particularly, the BBC World Service.

The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) provides daytime and evening TV on one VHF channel in both English and Kiswahili. BBC news is carried every evening. A few American sitcoms and entertainment programs are telecast but usually are quite dated. Some British and German entertainment programs and sports are also telecast. KBC has introduced a pay-cable station featuring South African programming but a start-up fee to receive the channel comes to several hundred dollars.

Channel 62, a UHF station owned by the Kenya Times Media Trust, began broadcasting in 1990. It broadcasts CNN and local news. Older U.S. reruns are common with some current TV programs, films, and sports. Although UHF antennas are available, they are somewhat costly and of inferior quality. The one available VHF station primarily broadcasts local programs.

The Kenyan TV system is PAL (VHF/UHF).

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Kenya's English-language daily newspapersThe Standard, Kenya Times (KANU) and the Nation and a few othersprovide some coverage of international affairs, mainly through Reuters, AP, and Agency France Presse.

The International Herald Tribune arrives 1-2 days after publication. British Sunday newspapers are available late the same day. The Sunday New York Times and Washington Post are available by subscription.

Magazines available include the Weekly Review which carries weekly news commentary, Economic Review, and Finance Magazine. Many technical journals are available, especially in trade and agriculture. European editions of Time and Newsweek, as well as other European magazines, are available.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

The Nairobi Hospital is the local hospital most commonly used for inpatient care. Patients are referred to local labs and radiology facilities for diagnostic tests at the patient's expense. A mammography facility approved by the Department of State's Office of Medical Services is here. Since complete medical care is limited, medical evacuations to London or Pretoria are occasionally necessary. The list of local physicians includes surgeons, internists, general practitioners, obstetricians, pediatricians, and ophthalmologists. General dentistry is available.

Orthodontic care is limited to maintenance, but not initiation of treatment. Ophthalmologists and opticians are available in Nairobi and eyeglasses can be fitted locally. Solutions for soft contact lenses are not available. Pharmacies with many prescription medicines are available, often under trade names different than those in the U.S.

If you are taking a prescription medicine, bring an adequate supply.

Community Health

Some houses have distillers; but, otherwise filter and then boil drinking water. Vegetables to be eaten raw should be well cleansed. Fluo-ride supplements for children are recommended in most locations.

Preventive Measures

The altitude is similar to that of Denver, but Nairobi is located close to the Equator. Strenuous physical activity should be limited for the first few weeks after arrival. Because of the altitude and equatorial location, the effects of sunlight on the skin are markedly enhanced. Bring sun blocking lotions or creams and exercise caution to avoid overexposure to the sun.

Malaria is not a significant risk in Nairobi or in certain other areas nearby. Many parts of Kenya, including the much visited coastal resort areas and the game parks, however, present the risk of chloroquine-resistant malaria. Those who travel to any of the areas where malaria is endemic must take malaria prophylactics while in the malaria zone and for 4 weeks after leaving the area. The recommended malaria prophylactic is mefloquine weekly, or doxycycline daily. An alternative is weekly chloroquine plus daily proguanil (Paludrine). One of these regimens will be recommended depending on your age and medical history, and whether or not you are pregnant.

In addition to all routine childhood immunizations, people coming to Kenya should be immunized against yellow fever, meningococcal meningitis, typhoid, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, and rabies. Proof of vaccination against yellow fever, is required for entry into Kenya and many other countries in Africa, and should be obtained in the U.S. It is recommended that people receive a cholera vaccine stamp in their immunization booklets for entry into certain countries, although the vaccine itself is no longer recommended.


Most travelers fly to Kenya via Europe, stopping en route in London, Paris, Frankfurt, or Amsterdam. There are frequent flights to Nairobi from these cities. Travelers should make sure their travel is in compliance with the Fly America Act.

All those entering Kenya must have a valid Kenyan visa in their passports and must have up-to-date health certificates. Visas are required; they may be obtained at any Kenyan Embassy or consulate, or at the port of entry. Yellow fever immunizations is required for entry into Kenya.

If you are bringing a pet to Kenya, obtain all the documents described below. Any animal arriving in the country without the proper certificates will be kept in quarantine at the owner's expense for up to 6 months. Pets which do not arrive on the same flight as the owner will be cleared by a forwarding company. Their fee is a personal expense of the owner.

If coming from the U.S., obtain an import permit from the Kenyan Embassy in Washington, D.C., in person, if possible, since long delays have been experienced in applying for these forms by mail. This permit will have name and address of owner and a description of the pet, and it should accompany the animal on its trip to Kenya. Americans who have recently brought in pets have been advised to send a copy of the permit with the animal and to bring the original when they claim the animal at Nairobi Airport. After the permit form is completed and you have obtained the certificates described below from a veterinarian, all papers must be returned to the Kenyan Embassy where the permit will be signed.

Certificate of Vaccination Against Rabies. The certificate signed by a veterinarian must state:

  • Type, manufacture, and batch number of the vaccine.
  • The apparent age of the animal at time of vaccination;
  • Date of vaccination.

Living avianized vaccine (Flury or Kelev strain) has the following validity: Canines, 1 month to 36 months post vaccination; felines, 1 month to 12 months post vaccination. Animals vaccinated against rabies less than 6 months before arrival must have a certificate signed by a government veterinary officer of the country of origin stating that there has been no rabies within 30 miles of the place of origin in the last 6 months.

Rabies vaccination of cats is required, and cats must have a certificate from a government veterinarian stating that they have not been within 30 miles of a rabies outbreak during the previous 6 months, and have been vaccinated for rabies.

Certificate of Health. The animal must have a veterinarian's certificate stating that it is free from any contagious or infectious disease. It must be signed not more than 5 days before the animal's date of departure.

Certificate of Isolation. If an animal enters by ship, it must have a certificate from the ship's master stating that it did not leave the ship and was isolated from other animals while on board. Animals arriving by air must have a certificate stating that transport was in crates effectively isolating them from other animals, and that they remained aboard the plane from point of embarkation until arrival in Kenya.

If stopping on your way to Kenya, you can arrange for a kennel to keep your pet and take it to the airport after your departure. Also, if you must stay in a hotel in Kenya before moving into a house, you can keep your pet in a Nairobi kennel.

The unit of currency is the Kenya Shilling (KShs.) and values under a shilling follow the decimal system in cents. The exchange rate early 1997 was roughly US$1 = 79 shillings; Coins are in denominations of .50, 1, 5, and 10 shillings; bills are in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 and 1,000 shillings. It is illegal to destroy Kenyan currency, regardless of the amount. Violations often result in an arrest and fine.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Mar.(2nd Mon) Commonwealth Day*

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Mar/Apr. Easter Monday*

May 1 Labor Day

June 1 Madaraka Day

Oct. 10 Moi Day

Oct. 20 Kenyatta Day

Dec. 12 Jamhuri Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 26 Boxing Day

Id al-Adah*





These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.


Adamson, Joy. The People of Kenya. Harcourt Brace: New York, 1967; Collins: London, 1967.

Area Handbook Series. Kenya: A Country Study, by Howard Nelson. Washington, D.C.; Government Printing Office, 1984.

Azeveo, Mario (ed.). Kenya: The Land, the People, and the Nation. Carolina Academic Press: Durham, North Carolina, 1993.

Bailey, Donna, and Anna Sproule. Kenya. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn Co., 1990.

Beinen, Henry. Kenya: The Politics of Participation and Control. Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1974.

Bensten, Cheryl. Maasi Days. New York: Anchor Books, 1991.

Berg-Schlosser, Dirk, and Rainer Siegler. Political Stability & Development: A Comparative Analysis of Kenya, Tanzania, & Uganda. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1990.

Berlitz Travel Guides. Kenya Travel Guide. New York: Macmillan, 1989.

Boyles, Denis. Maneater's Motel & Other Stops on the Railway to Nowhere: An East African Traveler's Nightbook. Boston, MA: Ticknor & Fields, 1991.

Camerapix Staff, comps. Spectrum Guide to Kenya. New York: Facts on File, 1990.

Cox, Richard, ed. Kenya & Northern Tanzania. Rev ed. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1991.

Curtis, Arnold. Kenya: A Visitor's Guide. 2nd ed. Edison, NJ: Hunter Publications New York, 1989.

Fratkin, Elliot M. Surviving Drought and Development: Ariaal Pastoralists of Northern Kenya. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1991.

Gallmann, Kuki. I Dreamed of Africa. New York: Viking Press, 1991.

Houston, Dick. Safari Adventure. New York: Cobblehill Books, 1991.

Jacobsen, Karen. Kenya. Chicago:Children's Press, 1990.

Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles: With Ratings of Major Safaris. 3rd ed. New York: McKay, 1990.

Kenyatta, Jomo. Facing Mount Kenya: The Tribal Life of the Kikuyu. Secker & Warburg: London, 1938; Vintage: New York, 1962.

Latham, Aaron. Kenya. New York:Prentice Hall, 1991.

Leech, Michael. Essential Kenya. Boston: Little, Brown, 1991.

Leonard, David K. African Successes: Four Public Managers of Kenyan Rural Development. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1991.

Maren, Michael. The Land and People of Kenya. New York: Lippincott, 1989.

Miller, Norman and Rodger Yeager. Kenya: The Quest for Prosperity. Westview Press, Inc.: Boulder, Colorado, 1994.

Murray-Brown, Jeremy. Kenyatta. Dutton: New York, 1993.

Naipaul, Shiva. North of South. Simon and Schuster: New York, 1979. (covers Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia)

Ominde, S.H., ed. Kenya's Population Growth and Development to the Year 2000. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1989.

Saitoti, Tepilit Ole. The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior. University of California Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1988.

Trillo, Richard. Kenya. The Rough Guide. Rough Guides Ltd.: London, 1993.

History, Geography, Culture

Fedders, Andrew and Cynthia Salvadori. Peoples and Cultures of Kenya. Transafrica in association with Primrose Sundries: Nairobi, 1980.

Huxley, Elspeth. Nine Faces of Kenya. Collins Harvill: London, 1990.

Leakey, Richard E. and Roger Lewin. Origins. London: Macdonald and Jones, 1977.

Maxon, Robert M. East Africa: An Introductory History. East African Educational Publishers: Nairobi, 1986.

Miller, Charles. The Lunatic Express: An Entertainment in Imperialism. Macmillan: New York, 1971: Macdonald: London, 1972.

Ojany, F. and R.B. Ogendo. Kenya: A Study in Physical and Human Geography. Longman: Nairobi, 1973.

Ochieng', William Robert, ed. Themes in Kenyan History. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1990.

Rosberg, Carl and John Nottingham. The Myth of "Mau Mau": Nationalism in Kenya. Praeger. New York, 1966; East African Publishing House: Nairobi, 1966.

Salim, Ahmed I. The Swahili-Speaking Peoples of Kenya's Coast, 1895-1965. East African Publishing House: Nairobi, 1973.

Somjee, Sultan. Material Culture of Kenya. East African Educational Publishers: Nairobi, 1993.

Wortham, Robert. Spatial Development and Religious Orientation in Kenya. San Francisco: Mellen Research University Press, 1991.

Novels, Short Stories, Essays

Adagala, Kavetsa and Wanji Mukabi Kabira (eds.). Kenyan Oral Narratives: A Selection. Heine-mann: Nairobi, 1985.

Blixen, Karen (Isak Dinesen). Out of Africa. Random House: New York, 1979. (Also Vintage paperback.)

Markham, Beryl. West With the Night. Virago Press: Fair fax California, 1984.

Mwangi, Meja. Going Down River Road. Heinemann: London, 1976.

Ngugi wa Thion'go. Petals of Blood. Heinemann: London, 1977.

Ogot, Grace. The Other Woman: Selected Short Stories. Transafrica Publishers: Nairobi, 1976.

Reference Books

Ammann, Karl. Maasai Mara: Kenya's Great Game Reserve. New York: Prentice Hall, 1990.

Blundell, Michael. Collins Guide to the Wild Flowers of East Africa. Collins: London, 1987.

Estes, Richard D. The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals. Chelsea Green Publishing Company: Post Mills, Vermont, 1993.

Karmali, John. The Beautiful Plants of Kenya. Westlands Sundries Ltd.: Nairobi, 1988.

Moore, Ray D. Where to Watch Birds in Kenya. Transafrica: Nairobi, 1984.

Moss, Cynthia. Portraits in the Wild Animal Behavior in East Africa. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1982.

Williams, J.G. A Field Guide to the National Parks of East Africa. Collins: London, 1981

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Kenya
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 30,765,916
Language(s): English, Kiswahili
Literacy rate: 78.1%
Area: 582,650 sq km
GDP: 10,357 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 4
Total Circulation: 250,000
Circulation per 1,000: 13
Number of Nondaily Newspapers: 10
Total Circulation: 110,000
Circulation per 1,000: 6
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 1,280 (Kenyan Shilling millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 40.30
Number of Television Stations: 8
Number of Television Sets: 730,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 23.7
Number of Radio Stations: 38
Number of Radio Receivers: 3,070,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 99.8
Number of Individuals with Computers: 150,000
Computers per 1,000: 4.9
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 200,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 6.5

Background & General Characteristics


Kenya's media is noteworthy given the continent's history that has had a devastating effect on the industry. At independence most African states had media that could have been developed into vibrant institutions (de Beer, Kasoma, Megwa & Steyn, 1995). In most cases, however, African nations engineered systematic schemes that decimated the industry as G.B.N. Ayittey (1992, 1999) chronicles. What sets Kenya apart is her ability to travel this tortured path behaving like every other African media bullying nation, yet maintain one of the few, by African standards, vibrant media outlets

But circumstances are changing. Kenya emerged as a state a little over a century ago, suffered colonialism, then experimented with hardly defined ideologies for a generation, but is now set to enter another epochsince the constitution barred Danielarap Moi from standing for another electoral term when his last one ended in 2002. In Africa where government policies are subject to the whims of the leader, this new shift will be fundamental.

Kenya lies on Africa's eastern seaboard neighboring Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania. With a population of about thirty million, the parchment of 45 tribal groupings, that Peter Mwaura (11) calls "separate mini-states," came under British colonial control in 1884 following the Berlin conference to partition Africa (Maloba; Hachten). In 1963, the country gained independence from Britain under the Kenya African National Union (KANU) government. The then opposition party, Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) maintained a token presence in parliament for a while, then dissolved to merge with KANU. KANU has been in power initially under the nation's founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, until his death in 1978, when Moi took power in a constitutional succession. He was president until 2002.

Both towards the end of Kenyatta's reign and especially during the Presidency of Moi, the executive branch progressively excluded competitors from the government. In the late 1980s people excluded from mainstream politics began to demand participation through alternative political parties. Kenya had, until 1982, been a de facto one party state, but in that year Parliament enacted a law making the country a de jure one party state. KANU assumed greater influence in setting national policies and at one time considered itself superior to parliament. By the end of the decade, civil unrest in the country forced the party, in 1990, to repeal the law criminalizing multi-partism. Today there is just a little under fifty political parties in the country. About ten of them are represented in parliament but there are only a handful of serious parliamentary parties.

While Kenyatta's reign from 1963 to 1978 had been characterized by less stringent control of the media, at least from the President himself, the press in Kenya, under Moi, was very different. This is not to say that there were no efforts to control the press under Kenyatta's regime. Those around the President, as P. Ochieng, Frank Barton and Gunilla Faringer demonstrate, frequently called newsrooms ostensibly on behalf of the President to demand the spiking of a story. But such control may have emanated from government functionaries than from, or through, the sanctioning of Kenyatta himself. Barton (86) tells of an encounter between Kenyatta and Kenya's then three leading Editors-in-Chief: Githii, Young, and Singh:

The three men sat together in a room waiting for Kenyatta to call them in. When at last he did so he told them: "I have Uganda's President Amin here, and I am very angry with him because he has banned your newspapers. And when I say your newspapers, I mean Kenyan newspapers, and although they are privately owned, they are still Kenyan newspapers and if they are Kenyan newspapers they are my newspapers" "So,' he went on, "that means that if he has banned my newspapers, he has banned meand I don't like it." (86)

George Githii tells of another encounter with Kenyatta. The Nation had been running editorials that contradicted the debate on detentions without trial then taking place in the countrywhich were supported by the executive branch. As a consequence a reporter with the paper was deported. Githii went to see Kenyatta on the matter. He writes:

Personally, I found President Kenyatta very, very tolerant. Once my newspaper printed editorials against preventive detention, which angered some members of the executive. Eventually, I made an appointment to see the President. His reaction was: "Those were your views; now remember to print ours." (63)

Moi, on the other hand, even while Vice President, had pesky relationships with the editors. Barton notes that:

Vice-President Arap Moi began to make regular phone calls to Young complaining about things in the Standard. Young found that the servility which was needed in some African quarters was not the best line with the Vice-President, and so he replied to Moi with as much vigour as Moi used to him. Things often ended up virtually a shouting match between the two. (87)

Kenyatta had assured the media that "Kenya's press need have no fears regarding curtailment of its freedom" (Faringer 60) as long as the media exercised responsibility. While the media in Kenya was then foreign owned they generally supported the government. Probably as a result the government saw no need of owning a medium of their own. But those around Kenyatta, Barton notes, were very keen on owning a newspaper (82). When Moi came to power his government purchased then Nairobi Times and christened it Kenya Times. It was managed by Kenya Times Media Trust (KTMT).

Print Media

The print media can be divided into four sectors: the regular daily newspapers, the magazines, the regional newspapers, and the printed sheets that also seek to pass for newspapers in the urban centre streets.

Kenya has four daily national newspapers in English and one in Kiswahili all published in Nairobi with a combined daily circulation of almost 400,000. Relative to other nations, even those of Africa, the history of the press in Kenya is rather recent. Literacy started in Kenya following the arrival of Protestant missionaries nearly a century and a half ago (Church of the Province of Kenya). The missionaries embarked on teaching new converts how to read and write primarily so that the new converts could read biblical literature for themselves. The initial publications carried religious materials. To date, the church is still involved in some magazine publishing.

The oldest mass circulating newspaper is the Standard founded in 1902 by a Parsee migrant, A. M. Jeevanjee. The British settlers who came to Kenya had brought in Indians to work on the construction of the railway line from the coast to the interior to open up the countryside for settlement. Most of the Indians settled in Mombasa and engaged in commerce. Standard catered for these civil servants and business community. But two years later, Jeevanjee sold his interests to the partnership of Mayer and Anderson who renamed it East African Standard marking the beginnings of the European press. The Standard became the largest and most influential publication in colonial East Africa (Hachten). In the hands of Mayer and Anderson, it was a typical European people's paper concerned with the happenings in Britain and urging subservience to the settlers, a tune that for a long time remained the tone of other settler controlled media including Mombasa Mail and Nairobi News (Abuoga & Mutere, 1988; Maloba, 1992). Change in the Standard to identify with the aspirations of Africans was painstakingly slow even after independence. Over the years the Standard changed hands until Lonrho acquired it in 1967 (Faringer 35).

Lonrho had a lot of business interests in Africa and the paper served more of a safeguard of these interests. Barton (88) notes that for Lonrho "newspapers were only a means to an end, the end being the much more profitable business of packaging, breweries, transport, mining and other ventures in different parts of the Continent." Following Tiny Rowland's death in the mid-1990s and the reorganization at the Lonrho headquarters in London, it is understood that the Standard may once again have been sold, this time to a group of Kenyan political businessmen who then gained control also of the television channel KTN. It is not clear who owns this media establishment, whether Lonrho East Africa or these Kenyan businessmen. The Standard today, with a daily circulation of 54,000, has outlasted other competitors. At one time this media house published a Kiswahili paper called Baraza. Besides the Standard and KTN, this media house also operates Capital FM currently licensed to broadcast in Nairobi. The Capital FM launched operations in September 1996.

Prior to the founding of the Nation published by Nation Media Group (NMG) Kenya had a very vibrant nationalist press. Faringer (10) categorizes media in Kenya at independence into a three tier system with the European press at the top, the Indian in the middle, and African at the bottom. Although Rosalynde Ainslie (99) says that the press in Africa was a European creation, which is true, African nationalists adapted the press very much to their struggle. By 1952 Ainslie (109) reports that Kenya had nearly 50 newspapers. However, the speciality of these publications was not news as much as it was essays that agitated for freedom. Most of the contributors were nationalists, with no journalistic experience, who later became post independence leaders. All these papers folded up with the coming of independence.

The Nation, with a circulation of 184,000, is Kenya's most widely circulated newspaper today according to Lukalo and Wanyeki. It was first registered in 1959 by Michael Curtis and Charles Hayes (Ainslie 104) both newspapermen in London and Nairobi, respectively. The spiritual leader of the Ismaili community Aga Khan purchased the Nation a year later. The paper was the first to adopt a policy of Africanization (Hachten; Abuoga & Mutere; Faringer). Besides the English language Nation the NMG also publishes a Kiswahili edition Taifa Leo.

Taifa, with a 35,000 daily circulation, is an abridged version of the Nation. Taifa does not have a separate group of reporters. It uses the same pool of reporters as the Nation. While the Aga Khan is still the majority shareholder in the NMG, the firm is currently traded at the Nairobi Stock Market.

Kenya's press has always been private and foreign owned. The NMG publishes the Daily Nation and Taifa Leo on week days, and Sunday Nation and Taifa Jumapili on Sunday. Both the Saturday and Sunday editions have pullouts including a children's magazine. On the other days of the week they carry special sections: education on Monday, business on Tuesday, society on Wednesday, real estate on Thursday, and entertainment on Friday. The Nation, although targeting the Kenyan market, is also distributed throughout the East African region. NMG also publishes the EastAfrican, a conservatively designed weekly newspaper focusing on economic news in East Africa. They also own Nation TV, and Nation FM Radio both which for the moment do not have a license to operate throughout the country. They were licensed in 1998 and went on air a year later, only to broadcast in the capital Nairobi as are other radio and television stations.

The People, owned by Kenneth Matiba, started as a weekly, but turned daily with a Sunday edition in December 1998. In 2002 it had a daily circulation of 60,000. Initially founded to serve as the voice of the opposition politics and to report materials that Nation and Standard feared to touch, the People has since landed on lean times. How long it survives may depend on the outcome of its appeal against multimillion-shilling judgments that courts have returned against the paper in libel cases. But other challenges the paper faces may relate partly to the difficulty in attracting sufficient advertising revenue and partly because it has never really shed its image as a partisan newspaper trumpeting the opposition point of view.

In 1983 KANU bought Hilary Ng'weno's Nairobi Times and named it The Kenya Times (Abuoga & Mutere; Ochieng). Ng'weno, the first African editor of the Nation, founded Nairobi Times intending it to be a quality afternoon paper. He was, at the same time, publishing Weekly Review, a quality news weekly that in the late 1970s used to be known for its incisive commentaries and two children's magazines. With diminishing revenue from advertising Ng'weno sold the Times. As Kenya Times the paper has suffered an identity crisis, and not without a cause, often seen as the mouthpiece of the ruling party and government. While there is no independent verification of its circulation, its internal figures say that it has a 50,000 daily circulation. The Kenya Times until recently was not a member of the ABC but even after joining the bureau seldom discloses their circulation figures. This makes it difficult to independently establish its market performance.

A.S. Kasoma De Beer et al notes that the Kenya Times "often reflected official government policy" (238). But a former Editor-in-chief of the paper, Philip Ochieng, submits that the "only thing which stands in the way of The Kenya Times is its false identification in the public's mind with the ruling party, a fact which weighs very heavily upon it, many people claiming, despite absence of evidence, that it publishes only what the party and the government want it to publish" (154). But Ochieng's is a lone voice. Hachten (24) notes that in a one party state a party newspaper is often indistinguishable from a government paper. Kenyan newspapers do not have any ideological leanings that would differentiate them. Even in the case of the People the distinguishing factor is not so much ideology as the stories they choose to print possibly with the intention that such stories may embarrass those in the government. These often expose some of the corruption deals government functionaries may be involved in. And not too infrequently these stories have landed the people in legal trouble. One government minister has been awarded a total of Ksh. 60 million in court rulings. If these fines are executed then some of the newspapers may be forced to close shop. Possibly because of this Kenya Times has remained at the bottom of the ladder in terms of circulation figures, advertising revenue, operating capital base, trained personnel and influence amongst the major newspapers in the country. KTMT also used to publish a Kiswahili edition Kenya Leo. Kenya Leo was in many ways similar to Taifa Leo carrying a summary of stories in the Times.

Besides the national daily newspapers there are several weekly publications circulating in the Coastal town of Mombassa. Because they only focus on issues of the coast their readership is confined to the coast and they are hardly of any national influence.

An emerging trend in the Kenya media scene is the publication of what, in Kenyan terminology, is called the gutter press but would be best described as "now-yousee-them-now-you-don't" press. The sheets are sold on news-stands and often on street corners for less than half the price of the daily newspapers. They are poorly written, poorly edited, poorly laid out, poorly printed, and contain poor pictures. Generally they have no fixed address, no known publisher, and tend to focus on rumour sometimes making very spectacular claims. They have no clear frequency, will appear out of the blue, make some spectacular claim that regards either sexual or corruption scandal involving a prominent personality, then disappear. They may only occasionally write on current affairs. These are likely to be found in most major towns and in mainly the major languages besides English and Kiswahili. It is said that sometimes they are sponsored by politicians who use them to launch a smear campaign against their opponents. But there is no way of proving this. These papers have drawn the anger of the Kenyan government in no small way. As a consequence the government is moving to pass a Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2001.

There has been a proliferation of other media in the country. The magazine industry has been vibrant not so much in its longevity as much as the frequency of magazines that have come up and gone under. The Weekly Review, probably the region's premier newsmagazine with a distinguished style of journalism during its lifespan was founded in 1975 (Abuoga & Mutere; Hachten). Published by Hilary Ng'weno's Stellascope, the weekly in the late 1970s and early 1980s had the best analytical and investigative journalism in the region (Faringer). As a consequence of its analytical reporting the government instructed firms in which the state had interest to cease advertising in the paper. This eroded the papers ability to survive economically. Later it toned down its critical re-portage and, in 1998 before it folded up, had become a mere shadow of its former self. Ng'weno chose to retire the title and focus on his other business interests including television. Financial Review and Economic Review, both now defunct, made a major impact in business journalism in the country until the former was proscribed and the latter disappeared from the news-stands in the latter part of 1998. Today, however, there is no towering news-magazine that would offer compelling reading like the Weekly Review did.

An interesting phenomenon is that in spite of the poor economy there has been quite an increase with diversity of media outlets in the 1990s that had not existed before. The changing political environment in the country with increased civil activism could be a contributing factor. Whereas previously the government could simply ban a publication with a single edict from the minister in charge, and this happened many times, the potential that such a ban would now be vigorously argued in court is much higher. A Nairobi businessman S. K. Macharia was, in the mid-1990s, through his firm Royal Media, licensed to operate Citizen radio and Television station. But he seems to have fallen foul of the government and his license to operate was temporarily withdrawn. He has got it back after a court petition, however, both his FM and TV stations are still off the air at the time of writing.

The church, through the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), at one time had its own publications Target and Lengo publishing in English and Kiswahili respectively. Target, especially in the later part of 1960s and early 1970s was very analytical, an approach that often put it at odds with the Kenyatta government, but more specifically with the then Attorney General who accused the paper of having sympathies for communism. The paper, following an internal reorganization, seemed to lose its objectives and funding and finally in 1997 folded up. NCCK's verbal exchanges with Kenyan government have a long history. When they published Beyond again they ran into trouble with the government, when in its analysis of the 1988 general elections, the paper said that the elections were a "mockery of democracy" (Faringer 66). The government proscribed the magazine and imprisoned its editor. Most of the other publications that the church has been identified with published social issues and not news.

Economic Framework

De Beer et al (209) observe that "Africa's economic situation has declined significantly in the three decades of post-colonialism." While Kenya's economy grew steadily in the years following independence, the 1990s have been truly economically lost decade for Kenya. According to the Central Bank of Kenya after the economy contracted in the early 1990s it grew by 5 percent in 1995, by 4.6 percent in 1996 and recorded only a 2.7 percent growth rate in 1997. This fell further in 1998 to 1.6 percent before recovering minimally to 2 percent in 1999. In 2001 the economy grew by 0.8 percent.

Investment in Kenya fell 10 times between 1978 and 1998 from nearly (Kenyan Shilling) (Ksh.) 250 billion to a low of just over Ksh. 24 billion. In 1993 the country attracted a mere $2 million in investment. Although in 1999 over $42 million was invested in Kenya that pales in comparison to $183 million and $222 million invested in neighbors Tanzania and Uganda, respectively countries that a decade and a half earlier found it nearly impossible to attract a fraction of what was being invested in Kenya. Today, Uganda produces nearly all the products that, less than a decade ago, it imported from Kenya.

There are several factors that account for Kenya's poor economic performance. Since the late 1980s, the country's political leadership took to rather rambunctious exchanges with diplomats accredited to Nairobi and officials on international financial bodies. It is at times difficult to understand who enunciates government policy on international relations. When it is to their convenience KANU leaders compete in making uncoordinated, often bellicose, statements on all manner of policy. The result is a public relations disaster. The abortive military coup against the Moi government in 1982 did not help either. But rather than address the eventual public relations damage the government sat on its hands. In the early 1990s, the country was ravaged by internal ethnic clashes and increased insecurity countrywide impacting tourism and agricultural sectors, Kenya's cash cows, negatively. The agricultural sector has performed dismally from a combination of factors including falling prices in the world market and neglect from the government. With less money in the economy domestic savings fell from Ksh. 106 billion in 1996 to Ksh. 61 billion in 2001.

The single biggest factor that has affected the Kenyan economy is corruption. In the 1992 general election the ruling party is accused of having printed money to finance the elections thus worsening the rate of inflation by nearly 60 percent. The involvement of the state in the business enterprise has not been helpful. It has especially been hurtful to the extent that it has eroded investor confidence in the economy. Some of the specific actions have been the government's sponsorship of politically correct banks, which were founded and run without reference to the appropriate banking regulations. Some of these banks collapsed with people's savings.

As a consequence the volume of trade at the Nairobi Stock Exchange has fallen. Between 1999 and 2001 about 140 investors pulled out of Kenya, 106 shut down their investments, 15 sold their investment, and nearly 20 were put in receivership. Over the same period, while the number of job seekers entering the market increased by one and a half million people, the economy only generated 30,000 jobs. Still the economic sector has been impacted negatively by government corruption, by the wear and tear of infrastructure, and by the cessation of aid to the country by the donor community limiting the available hard currency for imports. The advertising revenue fell, in a country where over 60 percent of the economy is service based, the remaining 40 percent distributed between, industry, manufacturing, and agriculture.

More than 70 percent of Kenya's population 15 years and above is literate. Increasingly though more children are not completing primary education. Several factors account for this: high fees, inflation, lack of learning materials, labor disputes, poor pay for teachers and falling educational standards. The AIDS scourge is another factor. As many as 700 people die in a day as a consequence of AIDS related infections.

Kenya's is an oral society and the reading culture is yet to take hold. This is complicated by the high cost of books. The nation has a national library but it only operates in the eight provincial headquarters, some located more than a day's journey away. But they are also poorly equipped.

One out of every other Kenyan lives on just a dollar a day. With a newspaper costing about half a dollar few can afford it. Then with 45 different languages and papers published only in English and Kiswahili, language becomes yet another hindrance. The other challenge is infrastructure. The teledensity is only eight telephone lines per one thousand people (Lukalo and Wanyeki) although mobile phone systems are catching on fast. The road network is equally poor. Many of Kenya's far-flung districts are inaccessible at the best of times and impossible to reach during the rainy season. It is a near impossible task to distribute newspapers throughout the country. The postal system is another hindrance in the circulation of newspapers and magazines. Kenya does not have a home mail delivery system. This makes it difficult to develop a subscription base thus denying newspapers and magazines the opportunity to have a dependable readership and a pool of cash to draw from. The few subscribers often end up receiving their magazines long after the issue is already on the newsstands or may not receive it at all, the issue having disappeared in the postal system.

Kenya's newspaper publishers have their own distribution networks. The country has a paper-manufacturing firm, however, the Kenyan produced paper is expensive relative to imported paper. While the big advertisers may seek to influence the coverage of news that affect them the major influence on editorial policies usually come from politicians. Senior politicians seldom let pass an opportunity to cultivate a symbiotic clientele relationship with journalists especially those from their own ethnic communities. It is not uncommon for politicians to call journalists from their own tribe when they have a story to break.


Most reporters in Kenya are members of the Kenya Union of Journalists. Reporters with the government associated media (Kenya Times, KBC, and the Kenya News Agency) are not allowed to join the union. The union has occasionally succeeded in negotiating better terms for its members. There are several organizations in the country that seek to bring journalists with common interests together. These would include the Kenya Education Writers' Association, the Kenya Professional Journalists' Association, the Association of Media Women in Kenya, the Network for the Defence of Independent Media in Africa, the Media Institute, the Association of Food and Agriculture Journalists, the Media Development Association, and the Kenya Correspondents' Association and Foreign Correspondence's Association. However, their effectiveness remains in question.

Journalism as a Career

Most journalists tend to negotiate their pay on an individual basis. While the annual gross national per capita income in Kenya is around $360, most journalists earn well above that per month. However, there is quite a disparity between journalists employed by the government and those working in the private media. Those working in private media earn far better that of journalists in the government controlled media.

Press Laws

Strictly speaking Kenya does not have a press law. Even what passes for press law is a carry over from the colonial governments' regulations in respect of press freedom. Critics have argued that the law, even if it was not good for the operation of the media, served the new rulers well by giving them a tool with which to control the media. What passes for media law in Kenya is a general section 79 of the constitution that states:

Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas without interference (whether the communication be to the public generally or to any person or class of persons) and freedom from interference with his correspondence.

There is nothing in the constitution that refers explicitly to the media. The section that seems relevant to journalism would be the clause referring to "freedom to communicate ideas without interference." However, such freedom could be withdrawn "in the interests of de-fence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health" according to Section 79 subsection (2) paragraph (a) of the constitution.

Parliament has just passed a Statutes Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2001, which is awaiting presidential accent. President Moi has already signalled that he will sign the new bill into law. Briefly, the new bill will require any newspaper publisher to increase their bond from the present Ksh. 10,000 ($125) to Ksh. 1,000,000 ($12,500). A publisher who fails to comply with the requirement will be liable to one million shillings fine and up to three years jail term. A second time offender will be liable for up to five years' jail term and will be barred from printing or publishing a newspaper. The bill also criminalizes selling a book, a magazine or a newspaper whose publisher has not deposited the bond, has failed to file returns, or has failed to comply with the law in any form. The section of the law that the bill is amending is a carry over from the colonial laws, and it is interesting that the Kenyan legislators have chosen to make it more punitive that the colonial government did.

Kenya's judiciary is supposedly very independent. The President appoints all the senior members of the bench including the Chief Justice. They enjoy security of tenure and can only be relieved of their duties on incapacitation, on achieving retirement age, or on advice of a committee appointed to review a member's performance. However, Kenya's judiciary has lately come under severe criticism. Besides being seen as lacking independence from the executive, the general public tends to view the bench as corrupt. In a recent survey by Transparency International Kenyan Chapter, the public perceived the judiciary to be among the most corrupt institutions in the country, only a little better than the worst, the Police department. Members of the bench from the Commonwealth countries who recently visited Kenya told the judiciary to clean its act so as to restore public confidence.


The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is charged with the task of censoring the media. But in reality media in Kenya have to deal with different departments, among them the Attorney General's Office, where newspaper returns are filed, and the Ministry of Information, which accredits journalists. But it is the sleuths in the Office of the President who scare the press most. While publishers are required to register a publication and file returns with the AG, most publishers often ignore the requirement either out of ignorance or for whatever other reason, at no cost. The AG will only follow up an offending publisher for reasons that may not be strictly related to the offence. For example in 1989 the editor of the magazine Beyond, Bedan Mbugua had published the magazine for a while without filing the returns and nobody bothered him. However, it was only when the magazine ran a commentary on the 1988 elections and said that the elections had been rigged that the government charged it with the violation. Obviously there were other magazines that were not following the regulation but since they had not rubbed the government the wrong way, the government chose to look the other side.

Although the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting licences journalists, many journalists operate without accreditation. However, the sleuths in the Office of the President can arrest or detain, without providing any reason, any journalist who publishes a story that they do not fancy. The Ministry of Information censors films and movies to ensure that they are keeping within the cultural norms of the country. But Kenya's biggest censors are the editors themselves seeking to be careful to avoid problems (Ochieng).

Kenyan journalists have not been proactive in putting in place a media council that would serve to receive and arbitrate complaints against the media. In mid-2002, the formation of such a council is in place, but given the Bill awaiting the President's approval, this council may not find much to do.

It is hard for a Kenyan journalist to walk to any official and get information that may be useful. It is often a frustrating experience for a reporter at an accident scene whose need may only be to confirm the number of victims injured. But the police would not speak, constantly referring the inquirer to the headquarters. While at the moment there is a Police Spokesperson, other government departments do not have similar positions and as such it is not easy to get information from them.

State-Press Relations

Kenya subscribes to the development communication paradigm based on the notion that given that the nation is a developing one then every agency in the country, the media included, should focus on development activity and not criticise those in power. Government officials would insist that the government welcomed positive and constructive criticism. But of course it is left to the government to define what is positive and constructive criticism. Over the years the freedom to criticize the Kenya government has greatly improved. In a recent cartoon published coinciding with the 2002 Oscar awards, the cartoonists gave several government functionaries awards. President Moi was awarded Best Director Award, but then the cartoonist changed his mind, crossed off the word Director and replaced it with Dictator with all the letters in upper case. The Nation carried the cartoon. It was quite a statement of how far the country has come.

The Kenyan government has not, however, always been tolerant. Publications that did not in the past please government functionaries were simply proscribed and sometimes this included past issues as was the case with Beyond, Development Agenda, and Nairobi Law Monthly Magazines. The Nation was, in 1989, suspended from covering Parliament, ostensibly for the claim of having been disloyal to the country.

Kenya has a news agency, Kenya News Agency (KNA), founded soon after independence and has, over the years, had offices and field reporters throughout the country. Graduates of government owned Kenya Institute of Mass Communication have almost automatically ended up in this outfit as field information offices where they effectively became the reporters in the field for the agency. Their assignment has been to file at least a story a week from their beat. This has provided an easy way to cover the entire country as newspapers and KBC could rely on KNA to cover the rural areas for them. But it has also served another purpose in that KNA reporters are trained to see news in the way that the government wants them to. So the stories are uniform. In the same way, for a long time, reporters from the newspapers were not allowed to cover presidential functions. Both the President and the Vice President have press units detailed to cover their activities. The press unit staffs have been KIMC trained and schooled in the government's way of presenting news. As Ochieng (43) puts it "We in the newspapers received only one interpretation of what the President was supposed to have said or done on any particular occasion: that of the Presidential Press Unit, relayed to us through the Kenya News Agency (KNA)."

Attitude toward Foreign Media

Kenya requires foreigners to have work permits. This does apply to international correspondents working in the country. The government issues accreditation to foreign correspondents whether they are working for international media or local media houses. An international correspondent would have little difficulty working in Kenya as long as they do not begin reporting on Kenyan politics in a manner that displeases those in the executive. That means always praising the executive. Both foreign correspondents and foreign reporters working for local media have been deported whenever they have written stories that did not please the executive. For instance in 1987, the government barred journalists from Sweden and Norway from visiting Kenya after papers in their countries had carried critical stories on Kenya's human rights record. Three years' later international journalists covering civil unrest in Nairobi's Eastlands district were detained and, after release, received threatening calls most probably from state security (Faringer 67). This is a fate that has fallen even on Kenyan reporters working for international press. A Kenyan Reuters correspondent was once picked up and held for nearly 13 hours for having filed a story to the effect that members of the public had thrown stones at the presidential motorcade. Local media reporters had been scared to cover the incident when the Reuters story began to print in the newsrooms. Philip Ochieng recalls how several editors from the Nation, including himself (he was a sub-editor then), were once detained for having attributed a story to an "anonymous" source.

Due to government repression of coverage of local issues Kenyans have, during moments of sensitive developments in the country tended to rely mainly on international news outlets especially BBC which broadcasts both in English and Kiswahili. Other channels include radio Deutsch Welle, Radio South Africa and Voice of America. Often people, even in rural Kenya, would tune to BBC Network Africa and Focus on Africa news programs for breaking news. There is a general feeling that the only trustworthy news items from KBC radio and television stations are death and time announcements; everything else is KANU propaganda. Conversely, there is a tendency to believe that everything on Kenya in international media is true. This is a consequence of the govern-ment's own control of the media. It would not allow dissenting views to be carried in the local press, would not allow opposition activities to be covered over KBC and would not allow civil unrest to be covered in the local media even when people are aware that something is happening in a part of the country. A reporter who broke the news in a KTN report that the then Health Minister, Mwai Kibaki, had defected from KANU to launch an opposition party lost her job.

While government has had little control of electronic media it has at times sought to control international print media by confiscating the issues that are shipped to be sold in the country. These would be when such media have stories written on Kenya that the government did not like. All Kenyan media houses subscribe to international news agencies mainly Reuters, AFP, AP and Gemini. Prior to the end of the cold war Kenya was a member of the non-aligned nations and subscribed to news agencies associated with the movement. Through arrangements with the then USSR's TASS it made it possible to access a pool of stories from other third world capitals.

Television stations in Kenya also relay international news programs from western stations. KTN for example relays CNN international news while KBC sometimes relays BBC news bulletin and Deutsch Welle television news. However, when these stations carry a story critical of Kenya then the relays of that day may be left out. Kenya does not have restriction on foreign ownership of the local media. Until the launching of Kenya Times the print news media in Kenya were foreign owned with the exception of the Stellascope publications owned by Hilary Ng'weno. Even the Kenya Times at one time was co-owned by British media mogul Robert Maxwell.

Broadcast Media

For a long time the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) dominated Kenya's electronic media scene. Formerly the Voice of Kenya, the station, founded in 1927, runs a nation-wide television service, two radio channels broadcasting throughout the country, in English and Kiswahili, and 16 regional ethnic language stations (Abuoga & Mutere 100). Today, it also has FM station covering the city and is planning another FM station for the Central Province, home to the populous Kikuyu community. KBCTV's news presentation format has always been predictable especially in the last decade and a half beginning with the 1982 attempted coup. The lead story has been on the president's activities including Sunday church attendance. The radio has not been any different.

Although KBC is publicly owned in the same format as the BBC with its budget drawn from the Treasury, the government exercises control in the appointment of management to ensure that KANU receives favorable coverage. KBC's television station broadcasts throughout the country in both English and Kiswahili. Its 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. news bulletins are in Kiswahili and English respectively. It has two parallel radio stations: the general and national service broadcasting in English and Kiswahili respectively. KBC, through its other regional stations, broadcasts in 12 other regional languages.

However, this reporting style has been nominally challenged by the launching of other stations. These stations, six in all, have not challenged KBC's dominance significantly. Other stations launched recently include KBC Channel II a subscriptions only cable network whose main shareholder is a South African firm, MultiChoice; Citizen TV, Nation, Family, and Stellavision. These stations, except the Nation TV, due to constitutional, financial and logistical limitations, have not been able to compete appropriately in news coverage. While Nation TV, with its financial muscle, could offer the biggest challenge to the two stations it is licensed to broadcast only in Nairobi. Its application for a nation-wide broadcast has been pending government approval for nearly a dozen years now. While it is not clear who the main shareholder in KTN is, it is understood that it is owned by the publishers of the Standard who are part of the Kenyan political establishment (De Beer et al 229).

Television has not made an impact in Kenya's countryside (Mytton; Ochieng; Bourgault; De Beer et al). To start with, the cost of a television set is prohibitive for rural people. A 21-inch colour television plus a VCR, for example, would cost at least five to 10 times the official average income of a primary school teacher. As a result television is a low priority for rural population that can ill afford it.

Owning television is complicated by another factor: the rural electrification programme. Most of the rural areas have little access to electricity. Rural folk run their televisions on batteries and solar systems. They can only receive KBC and even then the reception is often poor. Television is sadly still an elite media. Even in terms of content they tend to cover only urban events. Ochieng dismisses television as being of little communication significance to Kenyans for two reasons. He says, "Television, is out of reach for the majority of the people because it is urban-oriented and urban-based and because TV receivers are too expensive. Secondly, both television and radio deal with selected ideas which have to do with the strengthening of the security and integrity of the state, and not necessarily with social enlightenment as such" (108).

Most Kenyans have greater access to transistor radio receivers. Transistor radios today are cheap and available at nearly every street corner from hawkers. J.B. Abuoga and A.A. Mutere and G. Mytton suggest several reasons that make the medium popular. These include the low rate of functional literacy, the poor economy, the poor communication network, transport system and the people's lifestyles. Experience indicates that the largest single groups of media consumers in the rural are the teachers and agricultural extension workers (Wilcox; Quist). They are comparatively well educated, have a regular monthly income, are more interested in current affairs and are often opinion leaders. However, most schools are located in far-flung regions that are inaccessible so that this one single large market does not have an opportunity to buy newspapers. The alternative is mainly the radio.

The government knows only too well the strength of this medium and used it for political expediency. The government is familiar with the daunting task anybody who wanted to reach the entire country has. Only radio can reach all these people. Unconcerned with the language and distance barrier of the newspapers, the radio reaches the Maasai in his manyatta, the Somali herdsman in the outback in the north and the expatriate in his air-conditioned Nairobi home, all at once. To monopolize access to these people the government controls the radio. The initial FM radio stations to be licensed were allowed to broadcast only in the capital, Nairobi.

Overall there are at least six radio stations licensed to operate only within Nairobi. Apart from this there is the Family FM radio and Television station in Nairobi, but this is a religious broadcast relaying primarily religious content. Another station worth note is Kameme in Central Province that broadcasts in Kikuyu. However, its broadcast does not include news. Recently in an answer to a question in Parliament the Information Minister said that over 30 licenses for FM stations had been issued. But generally they would be given to politically correct individuals some of who would be holding them only for commercial speculative gain.

Electronic News Media

All the major news houses are available on the Internet. The Nation newspapers, the Standard newspapers, and KBC web pages are updated daily. The Nation web-site has searchable back editions going to 2000 while the Standard has only up to a week. They are, however, not indexed. The EastAfrican is also available online. Although Kenya Times is online it is seldom current. Both the Nation and KBC websites are much easier to navigate. The KTN website had not been updated for the first six months of 2002.

Education & TRAINING

There has been, in the last couple of years, an increase in the number of universities starting departments of communication and journalism education. Besides the School of Journalism at the University of Nairobi, that has been in existence for the last two decades, other public universities such as Kenyatta, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Moi, and Maseno all have either courses or departments of communication or journalism being developed. The same is true for private universities. Probably the oldest department in the private universities is at Daystar University, which began, in the late 1970s, offering graduate degrees in communication theory. The department expanded beginning in 1984 when it launched undergraduate communication courses with tracks in print and electronic media, public relations, and communication theory. But now there are departments of communication or journalism at United States International University-Nairobi and at the Nazarene University. There are also smaller colleges and institutes that offer training in media and other associated areas of interest. For example there is a school recently launched in Kenya in memory of the late award-winning photographer Mohamed Amin in Nairobi specialising in television journalism.

The Kenya Institute of Mass Communication for a long time was the main training institution for Kenyan journalists. It offers nine to 12 month courses in print and electronic media leading to certificates and diplomas in journalism. Philip Ochieng, one of Kenya's brightest journalists, complains of the calibre of Kenyan journalists lamenting their training. While Ochieng's comments may be true as far as they apply to the period he was writing about, a case can be made that the situation is greatly changing so much so that the problem now is getting employment for many Kenyans trained in journalism and mass media.

While the number of the institutions and courses being offered continue to rise, the same can not be said of the faculty, the literature, and academic journals. In many instances it is difficult to find teachers for the courses that are being offered leave alone finding people who are going to conduct research in mass media.


Moi has towered Kenya's political scene since the late 1970s and greatly impacted the direction the media took both through his relations with the media and the policies that his government put in place. His legacy will continue to influence the direction the media take. During Moi's presidency the executive reigned supreme, but there is just a glimmer of hope that some of the powers the office enjoyed will be trimmed in the new government. However since some of those poised to take over are a carry on from Moi's system, the question looms regarding what direction the system will take. Kenya's media has, through the last decade, developed muscles that may come useful in a new dispensation. The personnel are at the moment more educated that at any other time. The civil society has greatly become more active, more critical of the judiciary, and more demanding of the legislative.


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Ainslie, Rosalynde. The Press in Africa: Communications Past and Present. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1966.

Ayittey, G.B.N. Africa Betrayed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.

. Africa in Chaos. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Barton, Frank. The Press of Africa: Persecution and Perseverance. New York: Africana Publishing Company,1979.

Bourgault, L. M. Mass media in Sub-Saharan Africa. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1995.

Boyce, G. "The Fourth Estate: The Reappraisal of a concept." In George Boyce, James Curran and Pauline Win-gate (Eds.) Newspaper History from the 17th Century to the Present Day. London: Sage, 1978.

Church of the Province of Kenya. Rabai to Mumias. Nairobi: Uzima, 1994.

De Beer, A. S. Kasoma, F.P. Megwa, and E. Steyn. "Sub-Saharan Africa". In John C. Merrill (Ed). Global journalism: Survey of international communication 3rd Ed. New York: Longman, 1995.

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Hachten, W. Muffled drums: The news media in Africa. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1971.

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Maloba, W. "The media and Mau Mau: Kenyan nationalism and colonial propaganda". In Beverly G. Hawk (Ed.) Africa's media image. New York: Praeger, 1992.

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Levi Obonyo

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Republic of Kenya
Jamhuri ya Kenya



Located in east Africa, Kenya has a total area of 582,650 square kilometers (224,962 square miles), rendering it slightly larger than twice the size of Nevada. With a coastline of 536 kilometers (333 miles), Kenya borders the Indian Ocean to the east, Somalia to the northeast, Ethiopia to the north, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west, and Tanzania to the south. Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is situated slightly south of the center point of the country.


Between 1975 and 1997, the population of Kenya, which more than doubled from 13.7 million to 28.4 million, increased at an exceedingly high average growth rate of 3.4 percent. In July 2000, the CIA World Factbook estimated that the population stood at 30,339,770. With a current annual growth rate of 1.6 percent, it is expected that this figure will increase to approximately 37.6 million by 2015. The birth rate in Kenya is 29.35 births per 1,000 persons, while the death rate is 14.08 deaths per 1,000 persons. In terms of age structure, the population of Kenya is relatively young, with 43 percent of all Kenyans aged between 0 to 14 years, 54 percent aged between 15 to 64 years, and only 3 percent aged 65 years and over. In 1997, only 30.4 percent of the population lived in urban areas, though this figure is expected to expand to 44.5 percent by 2015.

The population of Kenya is highly heterogeneous (diverse). Some of the major ethnic groups include the Kikuyu (comprising 22 percent of the population), the Luhya (14 percent), the Luo (13 percent), the Kalenjin (12 percent), the Kanmba (11 percent), the Kisii (6 percent), and the Meru (6 percent). There are also several other African groups (15 percent), in addition to a small population of Arabs, Asians, and Europeans. With 38 percent of Kenyans adhering to one denomination or another of Protestantism, and 28 percent practicing Roman Catholicism, the majority of Kenyans are Christian. An additional 26 percent of the population follow an indigenous religious system unique to east Africa, while another 7 percent are devoted to Islam. A plethora (a large amount) of indigenous languages are spoken in Kenya, though the only 2 official languages are English and Kiswahili. The latter, which acts as the lingua franca (common language) in east Africa, is a Bantu-based language with strong Arabic influences.

Like many sub-Saharan African nations, Kenya currently confronts an HIV/AIDS epidemic of massive proportions. At the end of 1997, conservative estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) placed the total population living with HIV/AIDS at approximately 1,600,000. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) argues that HIV/AIDS is inextricably interrelated to issues of poverty. Poor women in urban areas, for example, are often forced out of economic necessity to engage in prostitution in order to survive. Prostitution, in turn, exposes sexual workers and their clients to high risks of HIV contraction. As such, any effective HIV/AIDS strategy on the part of the Kenyan government will have to address the dynamics of poverty in addition to gender inequality.


The area that now comprises Kenya came under British domination in the 1890s, though it was not declared an official Crown colony until 1920. Under British hegemony (complete domination), a racially stratified economy was created, with European settlers controlling a large segment of the fertile land and managing nascent industries, while the African indigenous population worked as laborers on cash-crop plantations and in factories. Indians, occupying a status somewhere between the Europeans and Africans, formed a petty-capitalist class of artisans, clerks, and merchants. By and large, the colonial economy was characterized by settler control of farming lands (settler-economy), with tea and coffee acting as the major export crops designated for sale in European markets abroad.

Following the emergence of various nationalist movements throughout the 1950s, in addition to a series of rebellions (the Mau Mau) against British rule, Kenya was granted independence in December 1963. Under the subsequent rule of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), headed by President Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya experienced significant economic growth throughout the 1960s. Although KANU, a self-proclaimed African socialist party, pursued various socialistic policies including government control of agricultural marketing boards, state ownership of certain industries, and import-substitution the economy under Kenyatta was more or less mixed.

In 1980, a growing balance of payments deficit caused by declining terms of trade (international prices for agricultural commodities greatly outweighed by prices for capital goods ) and high international oil prices, compelled Kenya to borrow heavily from the World Bank. The latter issued a second large-scale loan to Kenya in 1982, with both the first and second loans being subjected to numerous conditionalities (requirements). Such conditionalities centered on increasing the role of the private sector in the economy while concomitantly decreasing the role of the government. In particular, the conditionalitiescollectively labeled Structural Adjustment Packages (SAPs)emphasized trade liberalization and gradual dissolution of government marketing boards that controlled purchasing and selling of agricultural commodities.

Kenya's slow progress towards implementing agricultural conditionalities, in addition to the widespread use of public resources by government and parastatal officials for private gain (corruption), prompted many bilateral donors and the major international financial institutions to severely criticize KANU throughout the early 1990s. Inefficient and corrupt parastatals were singled out as being particularly draining to the country's treasury, and thus a major factor behind deficit and debt problems. Economic performance in the 1990s declined severely, and the average annual GDP growth rate, which stood at 6.5 percent between 1960 to 1980, fell to 2 percent between 1990 to 1999. In August 1993, inflation temporarily reached a record high of 100 percent. Five years later, in 1998, the unemployment rate soared to 50 percent.

Both the IMF and the World Bank suspended structural adjustment programs in 1997, as a result of KANU's failure to implement governance conditionalities designed primarily to curb corruption and promote sound economic policy. In July 2000, however, Kenya signed a long-awaited 3-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) with the IMF, a development that is expected to normalize relations with the World Bank and various bilateral donors. The PRGF, a direct relative of the SAPs, sets out some of the most detailed conditions ever agreed to by a national government.

The Kenyan economy continues to be dominated by agriculture, with tea, coffee, horticultural products, and petroleum products acting as the country's major exports. Export partners, in turn, include Uganda, Tanzania, the UK, Egypt, and Germany. Tourism is the second largest contributor to foreign exchange, while agriculture is the first. Kenya's major imports include machinery and transportation equipment, petroleum products, and iron and steel, most of which are imported from the UK, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Japan, Germany, and India. Due, in large part, to the uneven terms of trade between Kenya's agricultural exports and higher value-added imports, the country runs a significant balance of trade deficit. This means that Kenya must borrow heavily to finance imports, hence the various SAPs. In 1998, Kenya's total external debt stood at US$7 billion. In addition to commercial loans, the country also receives large amounts of economic aid from various international organizations and bilateral donors. In 1997, for instance, Kenya received a total of US$457 million in aid.


The legislative branch of the Kenyan government consists of a unicameral National Assembly (bunge), whose representatives are elected by popular vote to serve 5-year terms. The executive branch consists of a chief of state who is both president and head of government. The president is elected by popular vote by members of the National Assembly. The president, in turn, selects a cabinet. The judicial branch comprises a Court of Appeal, a chief justice appointed by the president, and a High Court. The legal system is a complex hybrid of English common law, tribal law, and Islamic law. The military is more or less apolitical, and Kenya boasts one of the most stable political histories in all of east Africa. This record was slightly marred in the early 1990s, when serious ethnic clashes killed thousands and left tens of thousands homeless.

Although KANU, dominated mostly by the Kikuyu and Luo ethnic groups, initially claimed to be socialist, it has long since abandoned this pretense. Indeed, according to Vincent B. Khapoya, author of the African Experience, even in the earliest years of Kenyan independence, KANU promoted capitalist policies. During this period, KANU, which replaced the ethnic federalism of the original post-independence constitution with centralization, banned its major opposition party, the Kenya People's Union (KPU), thereby creating a de facto (in practice) one-party state. In 1982, KANU constitutionally declared a de jure (on paper) one-party state, claiming that this was needed to decisively avoid the effects of "tribalism" (ethnic conflict), supposedly engendered by multiparty politics. Despite the reintroduction of multiparty politics in 1992, the government of Kenya has been headed by the KANU leader, Daniel arap Moi, since the death of Kenyatta in 1978. Moi is currently serving his last constitutional term in office, which is scheduled to end in January 2003.

Some of the other major political parties represented in the National Assembly include the Democratic Party of Kenya (DP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the National Development Party (NDP), Forum for the Restoration Democracy-Kenya (FORD-K), and SAFINA. The CIA World Factbook 2000 states that most opposition parties in Kenya are divided along ethnic lines, a factor which enabled KANU to win the 1997 elections despite its failure to garner the majority of votes.

Tax revenue, which accounted for 86.6 percent (KSh129,230) of government revenue in 1997, is the largest source of government income. The 3 largest sources of tax revenue, in turn, are taxes on goods and services, taxes on income and profits, and taxes on international trade. Each respectively accounted for 37 percent (KSh55,279), 33 percent (KSh49,266), and 15.3 percent (KSh22,773) of government revenue in 1997. Non-tax revenue only accounted for 13.4 percent of government income in the same year.

Taxes on companies in Kenya are set at the relatively high rate of 32.5 percent for resident companies and 40 percent for nonresident companies, though certain deductions and exemptions do apply. The income tax system is based on an annual pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) scheme in which a person is taxed progressively on sums of KSh90,240, beginning at 10 percent on the first KSh90,240, and ending at 32.5 percent on the sixth sum of KSh451,200. Those that make less than KSh90,240 are effectively exempted from income taxation. Moreover, a second pro-poor taxation policy includes the exemption of unprocessed agricultural products and processed foodstuffs from the standard value-added tax (VAT) rate of 17 percent on all goods. Some excise tax rates, however, such as the rate of 135 percent on cigarettes and tobacco products, and the 95 percent rate on light beer, are set at extremely high rates. Consequently, these commodities are confined to the enjoyment of the wealthy.


Kenya has an extensive road network of approximately 95,000 miles connecting most parts of the country. According to the U.S. Department of State Country Commercial Guide 2000, however, the current state of most roads is deplorable. Of the total 63,800 kilometers of highway, for example, only 8,868 kilometers are paved (1996 est.). In collaboration with various donors, the Kenyan government recently launched the ambitious 'Roads 2000' project, designed to create links between all major and minor roads, in addition to rehabilitating 20,000 kilometers of roads in 6 urban centers. The project, which will span approximately 3 years, is expected to cost US$245 million. The road network accounts for over 80 percent of Kenya's total passenger and freight transport.

The state-owned Kenya Railways Corporation (KR) manages Kenya's single-track railway system, which runs from Mombasa through Nairobi to the Ugandan border. As a result of heavy operational losses, there has been a steady deterioration in the KR's services. The World Bank and the British Overseas Development Administration are currently funding a railway rehabilitation project to make KR commercially viable, while the government has made plans to open up the railways to private-sector participation by limiting the KR's role to owning and regulating lines. Accordingly, the KR would lease locomotives to private-sector operators.

Kenya's port of Mombasa, which has an annual average freight throughput of about 8.1 million tons, is the country's main seaport and serves most East and Central

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Kenya 9 104 21 N/A 0 N/A 2.5 0.19 35
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Dem. Rep. of Congo 3 375 135 N/A 0 N/A N/A 0.00 1
Tanzania 4 279 21 0.0 1 N/A 1.6 0.05 25
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

African nations. The deep-water port, boasting 21 berths, offers specialized facilities, including cold storage, warehousing, and container terminal.

The international and domestic air transport infrastructure is relatively well-developed in Kenya. There are 3 international airports; the largest is Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, which serves more than 30 airlines providing scheduled services to cities around the world. In total, Kenya has 230 airports, including 21 that are paved. Wilson airport in Nairobi, the busiest airport in Africa, handles light aircraft and general aviation.

In 1999, the Communications Commission of Kenya was established to regulate telecommunications and radio communications in the country. In the same year, the state-owned Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation was split into 2 separate parastatalsTelkom Kenya, a telecommunication corporation, and Postal Corporation of Kenya, a postal services corporation. Kencell, a joint venture between Vivendi France and Sameer of Kenya, won the second cellular license bid in 1999 to provide cellular services in competition with the Telkom subsidiary, Safaricom. The government plans to sell up to 49 percent of Telkom Kenya through the Nairobi Stock Exchange. As of 1998, there were 290,000 main telephone lines in use, or approximately 9.9 telephone lines per 1,000 people. The United States, in comparison, boasted 640 phone lines per 1,000 people in 1996.

Kenya's electricity services are mostly provided by the state-owned Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), though an Electricity Regulation Board was appointed in 1998 to manage the opening up of the power sector to independent private producers. Since 82.74 percent of the power supply comes from hydroelectricity, power outages and blackouts have become increasingly common as a result of chronic drought. In 1999-2000, Kenya experienced its worst drought in 40 years, a development that forced the KPLC to introduce an emergency rationing program in July 2000 under which electricity supplies have been cut off for 12 hours a day. Further adding to the problem, hydro equipment tends to be outdated and poorly maintained. Consequently, the government is eager to further develop both thermal and geothermal sources of power. Two international companies were licensed at the beginning of 1997 to respectively produce 43 MW of power from a thermal plant in Mombasa and 45.5 MW from a diesel plant in Nairobi. In 1998, total electricity production in Kenya equaled 4.23 billion kWh. Only 8 percent of the Kenyan population is connected to the national grid.


As in most of Africa, the legacy of colonialism has ensured the predominance of agriculture in the Kenyan economy at the expense of industry. According to Norman Miller and Roger Yeager, authors of Kenya: The Quest for Prosperity, the colonial-settler-dominated economic system carried with it an explicit discouragement of indigenous capitalism . Policies directed towards these ends had the effect of guaranteeing African labor for colonial farmers while simultaneously preventing Kenyans from accumulating capital wealth. Perhaps even more importantly, Kenyan independence leaders accepted the unequal patterns of land tenure and private land ownership that developed in the colonial period, with the caveat that large estates were taken over by emerging African elites (so-called "Africanization"). As Miller and Yeager assert, this committed Kenya to a potentially dangerous course of unbalanced economic growth, as the politically powerful landowners maintained a system of agro-export domination that engendered deep class inequality and stymied (frustrated) industrial development. Today, the industrial sector remains relatively small, though many manufacturing sub-sectors have experienced considerable growth in recent years. The service sector, for its part, forms a vital part of the economy, with financial services and tourism predominating.


With 75 percent of the 9.2 million person labor force engaged in farming, the agricultural sector is the mainstay of the Kenyan economy. The sector contributes an estimated 26 percent of GDP, and generates 60 percent of the total foreign exchange earnings (1998 est.). The major agricultural products in Kenya include tea, coffee, horticulture, corn, wheat, sugarcane, dairy products, beef, pork, poultry, and eggs.

Tea production, which netted US$520 million in 1998, is Kenya's largest single foreign exchange earner. Coffee and horticulture are the other major agricultural export foreign exchange earners. With the economy so heavily dependent upon the exportation of agricultural commodities for its foreign exchange, however, Kenya is in a considerably vulnerable position. Adverse weather conditions, for instance, can completely affect the economy as a result of decreased production in any given year. Over the past 10 years, IMF statistics indicate that annual tea exports have fluctuated unpredictably, according, in large part, to weather conditions. In 1992, the total volume of tea exports equaled 169,000 tons; in 1996, this figure increased to 229,000 tons, though, in the following year, the total decreased to 206,000 tons. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) November 2000 Report on Kenya estimated tea output declined by 5.3 percent from the year before, leading to a 6 percent decline in the value of exports. The cause of this decline relates to the debilitating drought that the country experienced at the close of the twentieth century.

Coffee production has similarly followed varied patterns of output according to weather conditions. In 1991, 83,900 tons of coffee were produced for exportation, with this figure increasing to 113,500 tons in 1995, and declining to 83,200 tons in 1996. To add to the problems of production instability, revenue acquired from agricultural commodity exports depends heavily upon international prices for a given commodity in a given year. For instance, if there is a considerable coffee yield by most coffee-producing countries of the world, international prices will accordingly decline as a result of a glut (excessive supply). The EIU estimated that coffee export production in 1999 would reach 85,000 tons, a considerable improvement on the 1998 output of 68,100 tons resulting from the improvement in the weather of the coffee-growing regions of the Central Highlands. At the same time, coffee revenue in 1999 showed little increase due to depressed world coffee prices. Coffee export earnings fell to US$125 million in the 12 months prior to the end of August 2000, compared with US$149 million in the same period of the previous year.

Horticultureprimarily the production of flowers, fresh fruits, and vegetablesis the fourth largest earner of foreign exchange and the fastest-growing activity in the Kenyan economy. Unfortunately, the recent drought led to a 6.4 percent decline in horticultural output in 2000 and a fall of 3.6 percent (US$188 million) in export earnings.

As a result of the scarcity of arable land, in addition to the tendency to use valuable land for the cultivation of export crops, Kenya must import large amounts of food in order to feed the population. The latter factor is inextricably related to the domination of large farms producing export crops in the agricultural sector. Such farms are more concerned with producing crops for profit than in producing food for local subsistence consumption. Kenya normally produces only 35 to 40 percent of its domestic wheat requirements, which are estimated at 650,000 tons per year. Adverse weather conditions in 1997 led to a drastic reduction in domestic wheat production, thereby necessitating 465,000 tons of wheat imports. Similarly, in the same year a deficit in maize production had to be rectified with 1.1 million tons of imported maize.

In 1993, Kenya's total arable land was estimated at 8 percent, while permanent pastures and forests and woodland respectively occupied 37 percent and 30 percent of the land. Several environmental problems currently threaten this land, including deforestation (erosion of forests), soil erosion, and desertification (drying of the land). Other environmental problems include water pollution from urban and industrial wastes and degradation of water quality from increased use of pesticides and fertilizers.


With industry contributing 18 percent of GDP (1998 est.), the industrial sector in Kenya is a relatively small, albeit important one. Some of the major industries include small-scale consumer goods producers (plastic, furniture, batteries, textiles, soap, cigarettes, and flour), agricultural products processing, oil refining, and cement. Industrial production is confined exclusively to the urban centers, such as Nairobi and Mombasa.

Until the early 1990s, the Kenyan government pursued a strategy of import-substitution industrialization (ISI) in the manufacturing sector. ISI seeks to stimulate local manufacturing capacity by blocking manufacturing imports from abroad. Although ISI has been effective in certain contexts, the neo-liberal (the ideology of the complete free market) international financial institutions have criticized it severely for facilitating the development of inefficient firms that do not have to compete with their foreign counterparts. The result is higher prices and poorer quality goods for domestic consumers. In accordance with the conditions delineated in the various SAPs, therefore, the government of Kenya has replaced ISI with a strategy of export-oriented industrialization (EOI). The latter is premised on the idea of stimulating manufacturing industries by engaging in competition and free trade. It has been criticized for not taking into account the possibility that highly competitive foreign manufacturers will depress nascent Kenyan firms if they are granted access to Kenya's markets through trade liberalization.

Aggregately (in total), the value contribution of manufacturing in the Kenyan economy has steadily increased over the past 10 years, rising from KSh6,833 million in 1991, to KSh11,976 million in 1994, and KSh23,490 million in 1996. As other economic sectors have also increased in their value contributions, however, the percentage increase of manufacturing in GDP contribution has not changed significantly. In 1991, manufacturing contributed 3.1 percent of GDP, while this figure only marginally increased to 4.6 percent in 1996. In the same year, the manufacturing sector provided employment for 210,500 Kenyans.

The production output of many manufacturing sub-sectors has also increased considerably throughout the 1990s. From 1991 to 1996, for instance, output of rubber products increased annually on average by 16 percent, plastic products by 12.3 percent, petroleum and other chemicals by 3 percent, metal products by 5.38 percent, electrical machinery by 7.11 percent, and, finally, clay and glass products by a whopping 46.85 percent. The cement industry, one of Kenya's most valuable, increased the value of its exports from US$15.2 million in 1992 to US$43.3 million in 1997. Other sectors did not fare so well, and annual average output for many actually declined. Beverages and tobacco declined on average by 0.13 percent, textiles by 6.9 percent, and clothing by 12.11 percent.

Although the Kenyan government does not maintain data on the value of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the U.S. Investment Promotion Center estimated that FDI totaled more than US$1 billion in 1994. Many foreign firms are located within Export Processing Zones (EPZs)designated areas in which foreign firms are granted tax holidays and other concessions in order to attract their investment. There are a total of 14 EPZs in Kenya, and manufacturers are enticed with a ten-year corporate tax holiday and a 25 percent tax rate thereafter. Some of the major foreign manufacturers in the Kenyan economy include Bayer AG (German pharmaceuticals), British Petroleum, Cadbury Schweppes (UK confectionery/beverages), Coca-cola (U.S.), General Motors (U.S.), Colgate Palmolive (U.S. hygiene products), Mitsubishi (Japanese motor vehicles), and Mobil (U.S. petroleum products). While many praise FDI for creating needed investment and facilitating transfers of technology, others argue that it allows foreign firms to operate in isolation from the rest of the economy and that their profits are often expatriated (returned to the investor country).

The mining sector in Kenya, as a sub-component of the industrial sector, is negligible, though there are small deposits of gold, limestone, soda ash, salt barites, rubies, flourspar, and garnets. In 1991, mining only accounted for 0.1 percent of GDP, with this figure remaining exactly the same in 1996.


Accounting for approximately 56 percent of GDP, the service, or tertiary sector, is the most valuable area of economic activity in the domestic economy. The service sector consists mainly of 2 major areas: tourism and financial activities. Retail , which includes a significant number of restaurants in the urban centers, is dominated by small-scale street vendors, many of whom form part of the informal sector . In total, 144,300 Kenyans were involved in retail in 1996, not counting those that were engaged in the informal sector. The informal sector itself, known in Kenya as "jua kali," employs approximately 64 percent of all Kenyan urban workers. It is also the most dynamic sector in the economy in terms of job creation, accounting for about 90 percent of new jobs outside the smallholder farm sector. Informal sector activities, such as carpentry, motor vehicle repair, tailoring, hawking , and selling various fruits, vegetables, and other commodities, are largely service-based. Though the government recognizes the value of the informal sector, the U.S. Department of State Country Commercial Guide 2000 argues that it could do more to develop needed infrastructure.


With its beautiful coastal beaches, wildlife, unique scenery, and history of relative stability, Kenya is the tourist hub of east Africa. Indeed, tourism is the country's second-largest foreign exchange earner, next to the agricultural sector as a whole. In 1995, Kenya received an estimated 785,000 tourists with earnings of about US$486 million, a slight decline from the US$501 million in earnings and 807,600 tourists of the previous year. Earnings from tourism further declined to US$448 million in 1996, though this figure still equaled about 65 percent of the combined revenues from tea and coffee exports. Europeans account for more than 50 percent of Kenya's tourists, while Americans account for less than 10 percent.

According to the U.S. Department of State Country Commercial Guide 2000, the relative decline in Kenya's tourism sector can be attributed to a high level of crime, disintegrating infrastructure, the eruption of ethnic violence in the early 1990s, and growing competition from neighboring countries. Reassuringly, political stability has returned and the government has offered various fiscal incentives to firms operating in the tourism sector, thereby counterbalancing the negative trends. Several multinational corporations are involved in the tourist sector in Kenya, including the Hilton International (British), the Intercontinental Hotel (Japanese), and Safari Park Hotel (South Korean).


The financial sector has grown considerably in importance throughout the 1990s, increasing its value contribution to the economy from KSh7,069 million in 1991 to KSh9,843 million in 1996. In terms of GDP contribution, the financial sector accounted for 8.2 percent of GDP in 1991 and 10.1 percent in 1996. In the same year, approximately 81,000 Kenyans worked in the financial sector.

As of the beginning of 1998, the highly diversified financial sector in Kenya consisted of the Central Bank of Kenya, 53 domestic-and foreign-owned commercial banks, 15 non-bank financial institutions, 2 mortgage finance companies, 4 building societies, and numerous insurance companies and other specialized financial institutions. The banking sector is dominated by 4 large banks, which aggregately control 50 percent of all bank assets and 52 percent of bank deposits. The largest bank, the state-owned Kenya Commercial Bank, accounts for 17 percent of bank assets and 18 percent of bank deposits. The multinational Barclays Bank, with 16 percent of bank assets and 15 percent of bank deposits, is next in line, followed by the state-owned National Bank of Kenya and the multinational Standard Chartered Bank, each respectively boasting 8 percent of bank assets and 9 percent of bank deposits.

The Nairobi Stock Exchange, which handles 61 listed firms, was established in 1954. In January 1995, the stock market, including stock-brokerage, was opened up for foreign direct participation, although there is a 40 percent limit on foreign ownership. Market capitalization has recently manifested considerable growth, increasing from US$1.89 billion in 1995 to US$2.08 billion in 1998.


As an agricultural exporting and capital goods importing nation, Kenya routinely runs a balance of trade deficit that renders it highly dependent on loans and aid

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Kenya
Exports Imports
1975 .606 .945
1980 1.245 2.125
1985 .958 1.436
1990 1.032 2.124
1995 1.879 2.949
1998 1.993 3.280
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

to finance needed imports. The balance of trade deficit varies widely, depending upon, among other things, the market success of agricultural export commodities in a given year (as we have seen, this in turn, depends on both weather conditions and international commodity prices). In 1996, for instance, the deficit stood at US$73.5 million, while this figure increased dramatically to US$251.7 million in 2000a year of endemic drought. With a large amount of foreign exchange reserves , however, which equaled US$875 million in 2000, Kenya has been able to reduce its total external debt significantly, from US$6.9 billion in 1996 to US$5.7 billion in 2000.

Kenya's principal exports include tea, coffee, horticultural products, and petroleum products. Exports designated to Western Europe, particularly the United Kingdom and Germany, have increased considerably from US$437 million in 1992 to US$672 million in 1997. This increase is dwarfed, however, in comparison to the increase of exports designated to African economies. In 1992, Kenyan exports to Africa equaled US$330 million, 5 years later, in 1997, this figure exploded to US$971 million. This phenomenal increase is largely the result of the East African Cooperation (EAC) economic treaty signed with Uganda and Tanzania in 1996. The EAC promotes regional economic integration through policies geared towards eventually harmonizing inter-territorial tariffs , removal of trade barriers, and, in the longer-term, currency alignment.

Kenya's major imports include machinery and transportation equipment (capital goods), petroleum products, and iron and steel ( intermediate goods ). In 1996, the total value of Kenyan imports equaled US$2,928 million, US$727 million of which came from capital goods and US$1,719 million of which derived from intermediate goods. Imports from Western Europe, once more particularly Germany and the United Kingdom, have increased significantly from US$715 million in 1994 to US$1,048 million in 1997. Imports from African countries only increased marginally from US$59 million in 1994 to US$136 million in 1997. The balance of trade surplus with Africa signifies Kenya's relative economic strength in the continent. Japan and the United States are also important exporters to Kenya, with each respectively exporting goods and services equaling US$245 million and US$261 million in 1997.

The Kenyan government has promoted policies of trade liberalization throughout the 1990s, reducing, for instance, the maximum tariff rate from 45 percent in June 1994 to 25 percent in June 1997. While the international financial institutions and Western governments in general tend to support trade liberalization, it may have negative effects for a country like Kenya that depends on agricultural exports in exchange for higher value-added capital imports. If Kenyan manufacturing firms cannot compete with their foreign counterparts, reduction of trade protection measures, such as tariffs, will simply lead to the retardation of the Kenyan industrial sector. The result would be further entrenchment of the agricultural sector in the economy, and thus the prolonging of the unequal trading patterns that sustain the country's severe balance of trade deficit. In such a context, the pro-trade idea that all countries benefit when each focuses on producing and exporting that in which they have a comparative advantage and on importing that in which they do not, seems hardly relevant.

Regional trading arrangements (RTAs), such as the EAC, may offer the benefits associated with trade, while providing a more level playing field since member countries are more likely to be at a similar level of development. Still, more relatively developed countries might benefit disproportionately, which seems to be the case with Kenya and the EAC. Kenya is also a member of the 21-country RTA, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).


SAP-induced reforms in the first quarter of 1994 instituted a free- floating exchange rate policy in Kenya, with the value of the Kenyan shilling thereafter being determined by its supply and demand in international money markets. Prior to the reform, the Kenyan government followed a fixed exchange regime in which the shilling was pegged to the U.S. dollar at a specific rate, subject to alterations only to rectify substantial distortions. Since the introduction of the free-floating exchange regime, the shilling has generally depreciated in relation to the U.S. dollar, meaning it takes increasingly greater quantities of shillings to equal the value of 1 U.S. dollar. In 1995, the exchange rate was averaged at KSh51.430 per US$1, with the rate depreciating to an average of KSh70.326 per US$1 in 1999, and an average of KSh76.93 per US$1 in 2000. The EIU expects that the rate will average at KSh80 per US$1 in 2001, and KSh84 per US$1 in 2002. While

Exchange rates: Kenya
Kenyan shillings (KSh) per US$1
Dec 2000 78.733
2000 76.176
1999 70.326
1998 60.367
1997 58.732
1996 57.115
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

currency depreciation is positive for the exporting sectors of the Kenyan economy, since less foreign money is needed to buy Kenyan exports which thereby renders them more attractive, it has the adverse effect of increasing the prices of imports. For a drought-effected food-importing nation like Kenya, increases in the prices of essential imports can have negative consequences on the poorest segments of the society.


Kenya is a country characterized by abject poverty on the one hand and conspicuous wealth on the other. According to Miller and Yeager, the roots of inequality stem, in large part, from the colonial heritage that bestowed upon the nation highly unequal patterns of land tenure. Since the KANU regime has done very little to rectify the situation of land ownership in the post-independence era, a small segment of the population now African instead of Europeancontinues to own large tracts of land at the expense of the largely small-holding and landless peasantry. This landed elite, often absentee (having mangers run their estates so that they can live elsewhere) and centered in the urban centers, controls much of the industrial and commercial sectors. In addition to the elite landowners (though the groups are not always mutually exclusive), there exists a small class of politicians and parastatal managers that exercise extensive access to public resources. As Miller and Yeager assert, politics in Kenya are synonymous with the pursuit

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Kenya 301 337 320 355 334
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Dem. Rep. of Congo 392 313 293 247 127
Tanzania N/A N/A N/A 175 173
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Kenya
Lowest 10% 1.8
Lowest 20% 5.0
Second 20% 9.7
Third 20% 14.2
Fourth 20% 20.9
Highest 20% 50.2
Highest 10% 34.9
Survey year: 1994
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

of profit, and the Kenyan political elite is particularly notorious for its high degree of corruption.

David Himbara, author of Kenyan Capitalists, the State, and Development, observes that cutting across the axis of class inequality in Kenya is a second axis of ethnic inequality. Thus, throughout the Kenyatta era, a large portion of the political elite consisted of members of the Kikuyu ethnic group. Indeed, Himbara states that Kenyatta's policy of Africanization was in fact a policy of "Kikuyization." Since the beginning of the Moi era, however, the Kalenjin ethnic group has displaced the majority of the Kikuyus from the most senior echelons of state power.

In contrast to the tremendous wealth of the politically-and agriculturally-based economic elite, the vast majority of the Kenyan population lives in poverty. The United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) human development index (HDI) listings, which arranges countries according to their overall level of human development, ranks Kenya 138th out of a total of 174 nations. The HDI, a composite index (one that assesses more than one variable) that measures life expectancy at birth, adult literacy rate, school enrollment ratio, and GDP per capita , is indicative of a country's general social and economic well-being. As such, Kenya's HDI ranking demonstrates that the country is considerably underdeveloped, though it does fare better than many of its sub-Saharan African neighbors.

The Kenyan government spends relatively little on health, though it does spend a considerable, albeit declining, amount on education. In 1998, for example, public expenditure on health and education as percentages of GDP respectively equaled 2.2 percent and 6.5 percent, as opposed to 1.7 percent and 7 percent in 1990. Comparatively, the United States spent 5.4 percent of GDP on education and 6.5 percent on health in 1998. The vast majority of Kenyans, for their part, spend their meager incomes on the basic necessities of life, such as food, rents, clothing, fuel, and transportation. As a result of a declining economy and a deepening of poverty, however, Kenyans consume less food calories on a daily basis then they did thirty years ago. In 1970, the average Kenyan consumed 2,187 calories per day, with this figure declining to 1,976 calories per day in 1997. Americans, in contrast, consumed on average 2,965 calories per day in 1970 and 3,699 calories per day in 1997. This is not surprising, considering the increase in the GNP per capita has been grossly outweighed by mounting inflation in the past 10 years. The UNDP estimates that the annual growth rate in GNP per capita between 1990 to 1998 was 0.3 percent, while the average annual rate of inflation during the same period was 10.6 percent.


In 1997, an estimated 1.2 million males and 473,400 females engaged in formal wage employment. Women work overwhelmingly in services, while men work in education, manufacturing, building and construction, trade, and transport. The highest percentage of females working in male-dominated areas of the formal sector is in education, where women constitute 40 percent of the workforce. Women almost exclusively staff several textile factories, reflecting their overall lower status in the economy. Moreover,

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Kenya 31 9 21 2 8 3 26
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Dem. Rep. of Congo 34 2 12 3 3 11 36
Tanzania 67 6 5 4 12 6 0
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

women tend to suffer from a double-work day, being forced out of economic necessity to engage in income-earning activities during the day, and then being responsible for the domestic work activities at night.

There are at least 33 unions representing 350,000 workers in Kenyaapproximately 20 percent of the country's industrial workforce. With the exception of the National Union of Teachers, which represents 150,000 teachers, all unions are affiliated with the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU), an organ not known for its vigorous pursuance of workers' rights. Created by the government in 1965, COTU's leadership is comprised of the leadership of affiliated unions, though it is common for KANU to provide funding and other support for the election of senior officials.

The Trade Disputes Act permits workers to strike, provided that 21 days have elapsed following the submission of a written letter to the Minister of Labor. At the same time, however, the Ministry of Labor has the right to determine the legality of any strike, a power that was abused in 1994 when several strikes were declared illegal despite the requisite warnings. The government's response to wildcat strikes is usually severe, a problem which has been raised by various workers' rights organizations with the International Labor Organization (ILO). Members of the military services, police, prison guards, and members of the National Youth Service are legally forbidden to strike. Also, labor laws protecting workers, such as the right to organize and bargain collectively, are subject to numerous exceptions in the Export Processing Zones (EPZs).

Children under the age of 16 years are prohibited from working in the industrial sector, and the government has put forward concerted efforts to ensure this regulation is followed. Children often financially assist their parents by working as domestic servants in private homes, partaking in the informal sector, and working in family business and agriculture. Given the high levels of adult unemployment and underemployment , the employment of children in the formal industrial sector rarely occurs.

According to the U.S. Department of State Kenya Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998, the minimum wage, which has 12 separate scales according to location, age, and skill level, is insufficient to meet the daily needs of a worker and family. Consequently, most workers rely on second jobs, subsistence farming , informal sector opportunities, or the extended family for additional support. The legal limitation of a workweek for workers in the non-agricultural sector is 52 hours, while employees are entitled to 1 rest day per week. There are also provisions for one-month annual leave and sick leave. The Factories Act of 1951 sets forth detailed health and safety standards, which have been increasingly enforced since the early 1990s with the dramatic growth of factory inspections. Still, many workers who find themselves in hazardous conditions are reluctant to file complaints for fear of illegal dismissal.


8TH CENTURY. Arab and Persian settlements begin sprouting along the Kenyan coast. The Kiswahili language develops as a lingua franca for trade between the newcomers and the Bantu inhabitants.

16TH CENTURY. Arab dominance along the coast gives way to Portuguese ascendancy, following the first Portuguese contacts made in 1498.

19TH CENTURY. The United Kingdom establishes its influence in the Kenyan region with the arrival of various explorers, commercial representatives, and missionaries.

1895. The government of the United Kingdom establishes the East African Protectorate and subsequently opens the fertile highlands to white settlers. The settlers are allowed a voice in government even before Kenya is officially made a colony in 1920, though Africans are denied any form of political participation until 1944.

1952-1959. The so-called Mau Mau rebellion erupts against British colonial rule, and African participation in the political process increases rapidly.

1963. Kenya becomes an independent nation with Jomo Kenyatta of the Kikuyu ethnic group and Kenya African National Union (KANU) party as president. KANU, which claims to be socialist, promotes many capitalistic practices, though the state creates many parastatals in so-called strategic areas of the economy.

1969. With the banning of the major opposition party, the Kenya's People Union (KPU), Kenya becomes a de facto one-party state.

1978. Following the death of Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi succeeds as president. Moi continues to be the president of the country.

1980. Kenya receives its first conditional World Bank loan, marking the commencement of a lengthy period of international financial institution-sponsored structural adjustment programs designed to increase the role of the free market in the economy.

1982. Amendments to the constitution make Kenya a de jure one-party state.

1992. The Kenyan government re-introduces multi-party politics.

2000. Kenya signs a long-awaited 3-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) with the IMF.

The PRGF is expected to normalize relations with the World Bank and various bilateral donors, which had soured in the mid-1990s as a result of government corruption and resistance to implementing reforms.


Kenya represents an excellent example of the general economic and political trends that have prevailed, in varying degrees, throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s. On the political front, significant liberalization has occurred, with the various SAPs forcing the Kenyan government to deal with major issues of corruption and mismanagement. Moreover, the reintroduction of multiparty politics in 1992 certainly represents a positive development in terms of the elaboration of a democratic system. Yet, all the while, the widespread outbreak of ethnic violence in the early 1990s demonstrates that political stability is precarious, especially in an environment characterized by rampant poverty and deep inequality.

Economically, the various SAPs that have been implemented have yet to usher in an age of sustained growth, a factor that may be attributed, in part, to certain inappropriate policies, such as major trade liberalization. Indeed, the general economic situation seems to be worsening, as indicated by the low GDP growth rates and the consistently declining GNP per capita. At the same time, there is no denying that certain major economic reforms are needed, as the inefficiency and commercial failure of most parastatals clearly suggests. The experience of stateled development in Southeast Asia also indicates that the state cannot altogether remove itself from the arena of economic activity. In the words of Himbara, "there can be no substitute for the state in capitalist development. Nor is it likely that international financial institutions, which are currently attempting to reconstruct elements of the Kenyan state and force the adoption of reforms, can become a surrogate for a national interventionist state that conceives and implements a consistent program of development."


Kenya has no territories or colonies.


Himbara, David. Kenyan Capitalists, the State, and Development. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1994.

International Monetary Fund. IMF Staff Country Report, Kenya: Statistical Appendix: 1998. <>. Accessed May 2001.

Khapoya, Vincent B. The African Experience. New Jersey:Prentice Hall, 1998.

Miller, Norman, and Roger Yeager. Kenya: The Quest for Prosperity. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994.

United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Report 2000. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook 2000: Kenya. <>. Accessed May 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Kenya: 1998. < bgn.html>. Accessed May 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 1999 Country Commercial Guide: Kenya: 1999. <>. Accessed May 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Kenya Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998. <>. Accessed May 2001.

World Bank Group. Kenya: Competitiveness Indicators. <>. Accessed May 2001.

Neil Burron




Kenyan shilling (KSh). There are 100 cents in KSh1. The Kenyan shilling includes denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200.


Tea, coffee, horticultural products, and petroleum products.


Machinery and transportation equipment, petroleum products, iron, and steel.


US$45.1 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$2.2 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$3.3 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.).

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Official name: Republic of Kenya

Area: 582,650 square kilometers (224,962 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Kenya (5,199 meters/17,057 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Eastern, Northern, and Southern

Time zone: 3 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 1,131 kilometers (703 miles) east-northeast to west-southwest; 1,025 kilometers (637 miles) west-northwest to east-southeast

Land boundaries: 3,446 kilometers (2,141 miles) total boundary length; Ethiopia 830 kilometers (516 miles); Somalia 682 kilometers (424 miles); Sudan 232 kilometers (144 miles); Tanzania 769 kilometers (478 miles); Uganda 933 kilometers (580 miles)

Coastline: 536 kilometers (333 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


Kenya is located on the equator in eastern Africa. The country has a southeastern coastline along the Indian Ocean and shares land boundaries with Ethioh2a, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. With a total area of about 582,650 square kilometers (224,962 square miles), the country is slightly larger than twice the size of the state of Nevada. Kenya is divided into seven provinces and one area.


There are no outside territories or dependencies of Kenya.


The climate of Kenya is as varied as its topography. Weather conditions range from the tropical humidity of the coast and the dry heat of the northern plains to the coolness of the plateau and mountains. The coastal temperature averages 27°C (81°F), but the temperature decreases about 2°C (3°F) with each increase of 300 meters (1,000 feet) in altitude. The annual average temperature in Nairobi is 19°C (66°F), whereas in the arid northern plains it ranges from 21° to 27°C (70° to 81°F).

Seasons are determined by rainfall rather than by changes of temperature. Most regions of the country have two rainy seasons: the long rainy season between April and June and the short one between October and December. The average annual rainfall varies from 13 centimeters (5 inches) in the most arid regions to 193 centimeters (76 inches) near Lake Victoria. The coast and highland areas receive an annual average rainfall of 102 centimeters (40 inches).


Kenya has a great diversity of terrain, ranging from barrier reefs off the Indian Ocean coast to sandy desert, forested uplands, and the perpetually snow-covered Mount Kenya. A particularly prominent feature is the section of the Great Rift Valley of East Africa that runs through Kenya. The most striking geographical distinction, however, is the difference between the higher land, encompassing the southwestern one-third of the country; and the remaining two-thirds of the nation, consisting of low plateaus and plains. Geographically, the country may be divided into seven major regions: a coastal belt; plains adjoining the coastal strip; a low plateau; northern plains; the fertile Kenya Highlands; the north-south Rift Valley Region bisecting the Kenya Highlands; and an area of western plateaus that forms part of the Lake Victoria basin.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

Kenya faces the Indian Ocean to the southeast. A coral reef running for more than 480 kilometers (300 miles) lies just off the Kenyan coast and protects its coastal beaches from destructive waves. There are three marine parks along the coast: Kisite, Watumu, and Malindi.

Sea Inlets and Straits

Ungama Bay is a small, curved inlet of the Indian Ocean located along the coast north of Malindi.

Islands and Archipelagos

The most notable island is Mombasa, which lies off the southern coast and has been used for centuries as a port. The Lamu Archipelago off the northern coast was formed by the submersion of the coastline as a result of a rise in the ocean level.

Coastal Features

Extending about 402 kilometers (250 miles) from the Tanzanian border in the south to the Somalia border in the north, the coastal region exhibits somewhat different features in its southern and northern parts. The shoreline in the larger southern part (below the Tana River delta) is formed largely of coral rock and sand and is broken by bays, inlets, and branched creeks.

Mangrove swamps line these indentations, but along the ocean are many stretches of coral sand that form attractive beaches.

The coastal hinterland, forming the southern part of this region, is an erosion plain (formed by soil erosion) broken only in a few places by small, somewhat higher, hill groups. The plain rises very gradually westward, from an elevation of about 152 meters (500 feet) at the coastal ranges on its eastern edge, to about 304 meters (1,000 feet) where it meets the Eastern Plateau Region. The Tana Plains section of the region is mainly a depositional plain (formed by deposits of soil from river flooding). It extends northward from the upper part of the Coastal Region to the northern plain lands and is equally featureless and deficient in rainfall. The Tana River flows across the plain on its course from the Kenya Highlands to the Indian Ocean.


Kenya has two significant lakes: Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana (also called Lake Rudolf). Lake Victoria is shared by three nations: Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. It has an area of 69,490 square kilometers (26,830 square miles) and lies 1,130 meters (3,720 feet) above sea level. Only one-third of Lake Victoria is within the Kenyan border. The lake is 337 kilometers (209 miles) long at its greatest length and stretches about 240 kilometers (about 150 miles) at its greatest width. It is the world's second-largest freshwater lake, after Lake Superior in North America. Lake Victoria is the principal source for the Nile River.

Lake Turkana (Rudolph) is approximately 250 kilometers (155 miles) long and has a maximum width of about 56 kilometers (35 miles). It currently has no outlet; however, researchers believe that there may have been an earlier connection with the Nile River, since the lake contains a number of giant Nile perch. The area west of the lake is quite arid; annual rainfall is less than 25 centimeters (10 inches). Drought occurs in this region in some years. The Turkwel and Kerio Rivers, which originate in the Kenya Highlands, empty into Lake Rudolf during the rainy seasons. At other times, these rivers dry up. Water holes remain, however, and at various other points water lies only a short distance below riverbeds.

Lakes of less significance, such as the Baringo, Nakuru, Naivahsa, and Magadi, lie in or near the Eastern Rift.


Most rivers and streams in Kenya originate in the Highlands Region and radiate eastward toward the Indian Ocean, westward to Lake Victoria, and northward to Lake Turkana. Some rivers formed in the southern highlands of Ethiopia extend into Kenya along the eastern section of their mutual boundary. These rivers are all seasonal and those that receive sufficient water during flooding to reach the sea do so through Somalia.

The two largest perennial rivers are the Tana and the Galana Rivers, both of which empty into the Indian Ocean. These are also the only navigable rivers in the country. The Tana River, at approximately 724 kilometers (450 miles), rises in the southeastern part of the Kenya Highlands. From there, it flows in a great arc northeastward along the highlands, then enters the sea at Kipini. The Galana River rises in the southern part of the Kenya Highlands and, with its tributaries, flows into the Indian Ocean north of Malindi. Several smaller rivers that originate in the eastern Kenya Highlands area usually disappear in the semiarid region east of the highlands. On the western slope of the Kenya Highlands, rivers that are generally parallel empty into Lake Victoria. The largest river in that area, the Nzoia (about 257 kilometers/160 miles), eventually reaches Lake Victoria after flowing through Lake Kanyaboli and the Yala Swamp.


The Chalbi Desert is Kenya's only terrain that is classified as a true desert. A lake, which was formed by damming from lava flows from volcanic activity in the Mount Marasabit area, once covered this extensive area. The plains around Mount Marasabit consist of a vast lava plateau; those plateaus situated farther eastward developed on the continental base rock. The landscape here is dotted with inselbergs of varying shapes and sizes. Inselbergs (also called monadnocks) are hills or rock masses that were formed as the land around them eroded. At the center of the desert is Lake Turkana.


With a total length of about 6,693 kilometers (4,160 miles), the Nile is the longest river in the world. Even though the river does not run through the country, about one-tenth of the land in Kenya is part of the Nile River Basin. This region, located near Lake Victoriaa primary source for the Nile Riveris the wettest area in the country. As a result, about 40 percent of the population in Kenya lives in this area.


The vast Northern Plain Region stretches from the Uganda border on the west to Somalia. It consists of a series of plains of differing origins, mainly resulting from erosion or formed by great outpourings of lava, and includes Lake Turkana and the Chalbi Desert. The entire area east of the Chalbi Desert supports vegetation of only the semidesert type. Certain spots have more dense flora, however, including Mount Marasabit, which at higher elevations may receive 76 centimeters or more (30 inches or more) of rain annually and has an upper forest cover.

South-central Kenya features savannah grassland, and in the south near the Tanzanian border the Amboseli National Park protects grassy plains that are home to elephant and cape buffalo herds.

Much of the original forest has been cut down and the land is now used intensively to grow crops, both for subsistence and for cash. Forest still covers large areas of the northern part of the western highlands. In western Kenya, the Kakamega Forest Reserve, an area of tropical rain forest, is found in the midst of agricultural lands. The forest supports diverse plant and animal life, especially a number of primate species.

The Great Rift Valley is a massive fault system that stretches over 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles), from the Jordan Valley in Israel to Mozambique. In general, the Great Rift Valley ranges in elevation from 395 meters (1,300 feet) below sea level at the Dead Sea to 1,830 meters (6,000 feet) above sea level in south Kenya. The western branch contains the troughs and rivers that have become part of the African Great Lakes system. A large number of volcanoes lie along this rift, which was created by the violent underground activity and motions between the African Plate (Nubian) to the west and the Eurasian, Arabian, Indian, and Somalian Plates to the east.

In Kenya, the Great Rift Valley extends from the Lake Turkana area in the north generally southward through the Kenya Highlands and into Tanzania. In the vicinity of Lake Rudolph, the elevation of the valley floor is less than 457 meters (1,500 feet) above sea level, but southward it rises steadily until in its central section in the area of Lake Naivasha the elevation is close to 1,889 meters (6,200 feet). From that point southward, it drops off to about 610 meters (2,000 feet) at the Kenya-Tanzania border. High escarpments envelope the central section of the valley, which is about 64 kilometers (40 miles) wide. Extensive volcanic activity takes place on the valley floor, and several cones rise high above it. The area remains one of potential volcanic eruptions, with hot springs and steam emerging at numerous spots. The northern and southern parts of the valley receive a yearly rainfall averaging from 25 to 50 centimeters (10 to 20 inches).


The Kenya Highlands region consists of two major divisions, lying east and west of the north-south Great Rift Valley. Tectonic activity played a major part in the formation of the highlands. Plate motion created the Kenya Dome and the faulting and displacement, both major and minor, across this dome that produced the Great Rift Valley and many of the region's numerous escarpments. Great outpourings of lava have added thousands of feet to the elevation over broad areas.

A striking feature on the eastern edge of the highlands is Mount Kenya, an extinct volcano and the country's highest point, which rises to 5,199 meters (17,057 feet). An important subdivision of the eastern highlands is the area east of the Aberdare Range, which is populated by the Kikuyu, the country's largest ethnic group.

The Aberdare Range, which lies east of the Great Rift Valley and the Kinangop Plateau, has elevations above 3,962 meters (13,000 feet). On the valley's western side is the Mau Escarpment, rising to nearly 3,352 meters (10,000 feet). Farther north are the Elgeyo Escarpment and the Cherangai Hills; the latter have elevations over 3,352 meters (11,000 feet).


Kenya has a number of caves of various origin. Various ethnic groups, rebels, and outlaws have sought shelter in these caves as recently as the 1980s. One of the most well-known cave systems in the country, however, is currently being used by elephants.

Kitum, Makingeni, Chepnyalil, and Ngwarisha Caves are only four of the approximately one hundred caves in the Mount Elgon National Park. Kitum is the largest of these, with a length of about 200 meters (656 feet). Members of the Dorobo ethnic group occupied the caves until the area became a national park. Now, large groups of elephants use the caves as sleeping quarters. They also feed off the salt deposits that cover the walls of the caves.

The Akamba people once inhabited the lava tube caves of the Chyulu Hills, but the Akamba abandoned them, probably due to the lack of fresh water. Lava tubes are formed when lava streams flow continuously in the same river-like channel for many hours, or even many days. The outer edges of the flow begin to cool and form a solid crust, creating a tube through which the molten lava continues to flow. Parts of the tube remain once the initial eruption is completed, and the molten lava drains to lower ground, leaving behind a long tunnel. The longest lava tube in the area is called Leviathan. The total length of its passages is about 11 kilometers (7 miles), with a diameter from 3 to 10 meters (10 to 33 feet). It is one of the longest lava tubes in the world.


The Eastern Plateau Region consists of a belt of plains extending north and south to the east of Kenya Highlands. Elevations run mainly between 300 and 900 meters (1,000 and 3,000 feet) except for the Chyulu Range and the Taita Hills, both of which rise to over 2,134 meters (7,000 feet). The region appears monotonous except for the isolated hills and pinnacles (inselbergs) that were left during the erosional development of the plains. The southern part of the region includes the Ambolesi Plains, known as the site of the Ambolesi and Tsavo National Parks.

The Western Plateau Region forms part of the extensive basin in which Lake Victoria lies. The region consists mainly of faulted plateaus, marked by escarpments that descend in a gentle slope from the Kenya Highlands region to the shore of the lake. The Kano Rift Valley divides the region into northern and southern components, each of which has different features. This faulted valley lies at a right angle to the main rift running through the highlands and is separated from that valley by a great lava mass.

To the southwest of Mount Kenya, the Kinangop Plateau, a relatively small, 60-kilometer- (38-mile-) long plateau with some of Kenya's densest forest cover, is home to Aberdare National Park. The park is home to elephant, rhinoceros, and antelope. The Kinangop Plateau lies east of the Great Rift Valley and rises about 610 meters (2,000 feet) above the valley floor.


There are no major man-made structures affecting the geography of Kenya.


Tourism related to wildlife safaris is a mainstay of the Kenyan economy. Kenya contains some of the best-preserved national parks and game reserves in Africa. Within these wildlife areas, visitors can see a wide range of animals, including lions, cheetahs, hippos, buffalo, giraffe, zebras, wildebeests, gazelles, black & white Colobus monkeys, Sykes monkeys, bongos, giant forest hogs, and many more. Conservation of wildlife and efforts to restore the endangered African elephant and black rhino populations within reserves are a high priority in Kenya. Five biosphere reserves have been recognized under the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO's) Man and the Biosphere Program.



Maxon, Robert M., and Thomas P. Ofcansky. Historical Dictionary of Kenya. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1999.

Ojany, Francis F., and Reuben B. OgendID. Kenya: A Study in Physical and Human Geography. Boston: Longman Publishing Group, 1975.

O'Toole, Thomas. Kenya in Pictures. Minneapolis: Lerner Publishing Company, 1997.

Stein, R. Kenya. Chicago: Children's Press, 1985.

Web Sites

Embassy Avenue: The Embassy of Kenya in Japan. (accessed April 24, 2003).

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Kenya (kĕn´yə, kēn´–), officially Republic of Kenya, republic (2009 pop. 38,610,097), 224,960 sq mi (582,646 sq km), E Africa. Kenya is bordered by Somalia on the east, the Indian Ocean on the southeast, Tanzania on the south, Lake Victoria (Victoria Nyanza) on the southwest, Uganda on the west, South Sudan on the northwest, and Ethiopia on the north. Nairobi is the capital and largest city.

Land and People

The country, which lies astride the equator, consists of several geographical regions. The first is a narrow coastal strip that is low lying except for the Taita Hills in the south. The second, an inland region of bush-covered plains, constitutes most of the country's land area. In the northwest, straddling Lake Turkana and the Kulal Mts., are high-lying scrublands. In the southwest are the fertile grasslands and forests of the Kenya highlands. In the west is the Great Rift Valley, an irregular depression that cuts through W Kenya from north to south in two branches. It is also the location of some of the country's highest mountains, including Mt. Kenya (17,058 ft/5,199 m). Kenya's main rivers are the Tana and the Athi. In addition to the capital, other important cities include Mombasa (the chief port), Nakuru, Kisumu, Thika, Machakos, and Eldoret.

People of African descent make up about 99% of the population; they are divided into about 40 ethnic groups, of which the Bantu-speaking Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalenjin, Kamba, and Kisii and the Nilotic-speaking Luo are predominant. Small numbers of persons of South Asian and European descent live in the interior, and there are some Arabs along the coast. The official languages of Kenya are Swahili and English; many indigenous languages are also spoken. About 80% of the population is Christian; others follow indigenous beliefs and there are Muslim and Hindu minorities.


About 75% of Kenyans are engaged in farming, largely of the subsistence type. Coffee, tea, corn, wheat, sisal, and pyrethrum are grown in the highlands, mainly on small African-owned farms formed by dividing some of the large, formerly European-owned estates. Coconuts, pineapples, cashew nuts, cotton, and sugarcane are grown in the lower-lying areas. Much of the country is savanna, where large numbers of cattle are pastured. Kenya also produces dairy goods, pork, poultry, and eggs. The country's industries include food processing, flour milling, horticulture, and the manufacture of consumer goods such as plastic, furniture, batteries, clothing, and cigarettes. Petroleum is refined and aluminum, steel, and building materials are produced. Industrial development has been hampered by shortages in hydroelectric power and by inefficiency and corruption in the public sector, but steps have been taken to privatize some state-owned companies. The chief minerals produced are limestone, soda ash, gemstones, salt, and fluorospar. Kenya attracts many tourists, largely lured by its coastal beaches and varied wildlife, which is protected in the expansive Tsavo National Park (8,034 sq mi/20,808 sq km) in the southeast.

Kenya's chief exports are tea and coffee; fluctuations in their world prices and periodic droughts have tremendous economic impact. Petroleum products, flowers, and fish are also exported. The leading imports are machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, motor vehicles, iron and steel, and plastics. Major trading partners are the United States, Great Britain, Uganda, and the United Arab Emirates. Kenya's population growth continually exceeds the rate of economic growth, resulting in large budget deficits and high unemployment. The country's well-developed transportation system has suffered from neglect in recent years.


Kenya is governed under the constitution of 2010. The president, who is the head of state and head of government, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. (The post of prime minister was abolished in 1964, reestablished in 2008, and abolished again in 2010.) The bicameral legislature consists of the 349-seat National Assembly and the 67-seat Senate, Most members are directly elected. There are 47 Assembly seats that are reserved for women, and 12 seats are held by members nominated by the parties based on their elected seats. In the Senate, 16 women hold seats based on similar nominations, and 4 seats are held by persons nominated to represent the youth and disabled. All members serve five-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 47 counties.


Early History to Independence

During the 1950s and 60s, the anthropologist L. S. B. Leakey discovered in N Tanzania the remains of hominids who lived c.2 million years ago. These persons, perhaps the earliest humans on earth, most likely also inhabited S Kenya. In the Kenya highlands, the existence of farming and domestic herds can be dated to c.1000 BC Trade between the Kenya coast and Arabia was brisk by AD 100. Arabs settled on the coast during medieval times, and they soon established several autonomous city-states (including Mombasa, Malindi, and Pate). Farmers and herders traveled S from Ethiopia and settled in Kenya in c.2000 BC There is also evidence that Bantu-speaking people and Nilotic speakers from what is now South Sudan settled in Kenya between 500 BC and AD 500.

The Portuguese first visited the Kenya coast in 1498, and by the end of the 16th cent. they controlled much of it, including Mombasa. However, in 1729, the Portuguese were permanently expelled from Mombasa and were replaced as the leading power on the coast by two Arab dynasties: the Busaidi dynasty, based first at Masqat (in Oman) and from 1832 on Zanzibar, and the Mazrui dynasty, based at Mombasa. The Busaidi wrested Mombasa from the Mazrui in 1837. From the early 19th cent. there was long-distance caravan trading between Mombasa and Lake Victoria.

Beginning in the mid-19th cent., European explorers (especially John Ludwig Krapf and Joseph Thomson) mapped parts of the interior. The British and German governments agreed upon spheres of influence in E Africa in 1886, with most of present-day Kenya passing to the British. In 1887, a British association received concessionary rights to the Kenya coast from the sultan of Zanzibar. The association in 1888 was given a royal charter as the Imperial British East Africa Company, but severe financial difficulties soon led to its takeover by the British government, which established the East Africa Protectorate in 1895. A railroad was built (1895–1901) from Mombasa to Kisumu on Lake Victoria in order to facilitate trade with the interior and with Uganda.

In 1903, the first settlers of European descent established themselves as large-scale farmers in the highlands by taking land from the Kikuyu, Masai, and others. At the same time, Indian merchants moved inland from the coast. In 1920, the territory was renamed and its administration changed; the interior became Kenya Colony and a coastal strip (10 mi/16 km wide) was constituted the Protectorate of Kenya. From the 1920s to the 40s, European settlers controlled the government and owned extensive farmlands; Indians maintained small trade establishments and were lower-level government employees; and Africans grew cash crops such as coffee and cotton on a small scale, were subsistence farmers, or were laborers in the towns (especially Nairobi).

In the 1920s, Africans began to protest their inferior status. Protest reached a peak between 1952 and 1956 with the so-called Mau Mau Emergency, a complex armed revolt led by the Kikuyu, which was in part a rebellion against British rule and in part an attempt to reestablish traditional land rights and ways of governance. The British declared a state of emergency and imprisoned many of the colony's nationalist leaders, including Jomo Kenyatta. After the revolt, Britain increased African representation in the colony's legislative council until, in 1961, there was an African majority.

Modern Kenya

On Dec. 12, 1963, Kenya (including both the colony and the protectorate) became independent. In 1964 the country became a republic, with Kenyatta as president. The first decade of independence was characterized by disputes among ethnic groups (especially between the Kikuyu and the Luo), by economic growth and diversification, and by the end of European predominance. Many Europeans (who numbered about 55,000 in 1962) and Asians voluntarily left the country. Boundary disputes with Somalia resulted in sporadic fighting (1963–68). In 1969, Tom Mboya, a leading government official and a possible successor to Kenyatta, was assassinated. More than 70% of the country was affected by the sub-Saharan drought of the early 1970s. Kenyatta's silencing of opponents led to further unrest domestically. Throughout the 1970s relations with neighboring countries deteriorated as well; there was a territorial dispute with Uganda, and Tanzania closed its border with Kenya when Kenya harbored several of Idi Amin's supporters after the fall of his regime.

After Kenyatta's death in 1978, Vice President Daniel arap Moi succeeded him as president. Moi promoted the Africanization of industry by placing limits on foreign ownership and by extending credit to African investors. Domestically, he rejected demands for democratization and suppressed opposition. With economic conditions worsening, rumors of a coup led Moi to dismantle the air force and order the imprisonment of those suspected of involvement. Throughout the 1980s, Moi consolidated power in the presidency and continued to conduct periodic purges of his administration.

Rioting erupted in 1988 after several outspoken proponents of a multiparty democracy were arrested. Bowing to pressure at home and abroad, in 1991 the legislature passed a constitutional amendment legalizing multiparty democracy. In 1992, Moi was reelected president in Kenya's first multiparty election in 26 years. Opponents denounced the election as fraudulent, and the government was subsequently accused of human-rights violations. The 1990s saw tens of thousands of refugees flee fighting in Somalia to NE Kenya. Moi was reelected in 1997, but the governing party lost several seats in parliament. In Aug., 1998, a terrorist bomb exploded at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, killing some 250 people.

Forced under the constitution to retire, Moi engineered the nomination of Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya's first leader, as the Kenya African National Union (KANU) candidate for president in 2002. Mwai Kibaki, who had run against Moi in 1992 and 1997 and once was his vice president, was the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) candidate and the most prominent of the four opposition candidates. The December election, although not free of vote rigging, was the most credible multiparty election since independence and resulted in a significant opposition victory. Kibaki was elected president with 62% of the vote, and NARC won a majority of seats in the national assembly.

A constitutional conference was convened to revise the constitution, but when it approved (Jan., 2004) reducing the president's powers and establishing an executive prime minister, the government withdrew from the conference. Kibaki, who had supported such a proposal while in the opposition and had called for a new constitution to be in place 100 days after his election, saw his coalition divide over the issue. In July he let the conference's mandate expire and appointed a new committee to continue the work. Also in July he expanded his cabinet, bringing representatives of KANU and another opposition party into the government and demoting coalition members who had supported reducing the president's powers. By the end of 2004 a three-way division had developed in the NARC coalition, and a factional split in KANU resulted (Feb., 2005) in two separate executive councils claiming control of the party. The KANU factions continued to fight for control of the party through 2006.

In Aug., 2004, some Masai begin to mount protests over land on which they said the lease, signed 99 years ago with the British, had expired. The government challenged that assertion, but the Masai actions brought to the fore the inequity of many long-term leases (some more than 900 years long) that the British forced on the indigenous peoples of Kenya. The issue of the very-long-term leases was one that the stalled constitution might have resolved. Early 2005 saw outbreaks of fighting between Masai herders and Kikuyu farmers over scarce water resources.

The issue of corruption, which Kibaki had promised to attack but left to fester, roiled the government in 2004 and 2005 when the British ambassador accused Kenyan officials of "massive looting." The president's chief anticorruption adviser resigned out of frustration in Feb., 2005, and the Law Society accused the current vice president, attorney general, and finance minister of graft. In March the government said that it had identified in British bank accounts about $1 billion stolen from government project under the Moi administration and was making efforts to recover the money.

Parliament approved a draft constitution in July, 2005, that included the office of prime minister, but most executive powers remained with the presidency. Some members of the cabinet called for its defeat in the required referendum, as did former president Moi, while Kibaki called for its approval. Voters solidly rejected the document in Nov., 2005, in a blow to Kibaki's presidency. Kibaki subsequently dismissed the entire cabinet and suspended the opening of parliament; in December he appointed a new cabinet dominated by allies, but some ministers and deputies he nominated rejected the posts. Drought and crop failures in NE Kenya in 2005 led to food shortages and deaths due to starvation late in the year; the government was accused by some of responding slowly to the problem.

By Feb., 2006, two corruption scandals had resulted in the resignation or removal of four cabinet members, including the finance minister, and accusations of corruption had also been leveled at the vice president, who denied the charges. In March elite Kenyan police raided Kenya's oldest newspaper and its television station; copies of the newspaper were burned by police during the raid and the station was forced off the air. The government raid, which appeared to be an attempt to intimidate a critical media outlet, was denounced by opposition figures and by many cabinet members. The same month Kibaki finally reopened parliament. Kenyan and Ethiopian soldiers clashed in Apr., 2006, when the Ethiopians crossed the Kenyan border in pursuit of Oromo rebels. The fighting in Somalia in 2006 drove some 30,000 refugees into NE Kenya by mid-2006, adding to the 130,000 who had arrived since 1991, and in subsequent years the number of Somali refugees rose to more than 350,000. A cabinet reshuffle in Nov., 2006, largely undid the earlier ministerial resignations brought about by corruption scandals; only the former finance minister remained without a cabinet post.

President Kibaki, running as the Party of National Unity candidate, was declared the winner of the Dec., 2007, presidential election, but domestic and foreign observers questioned that result. (In Apr., 2008, a report by European Union investigators said that it was impossible to determine who may have won the election.) His main opponent, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) candidate Raila Odinga, accused him of vote fraud; Odinga had led in the opinion polls preceding the vote. The ODM won a plurality in the legislature, and many members of Kibaki's cabinet lost their legislative seats. The presidential result led to rioting and violence in many parts of Kenya. Some of the violence was ethnically based, with Luos (Odinga's tribe) attacking Kikiyus (Kibaki's tribe). More than a thousand Kenyans died and several hundred thousand were displaced as a result of the violence.

After negotiations mediated by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, both sides agreed in Feb., 2008, to form a power-sharing government, with Odinga as prime minister. After additional negotiations and, in early April, protests by Odinga's supporters, a cabinet was agreed on, and Odinga and the cabinet were sworn in in mid-April. The coalition government, however, proved cumbersome, beset by corruption, by continual partisanship and bickering over powers and responsibilities, and by an inability to enact agreed-upon reforms. A commission of inquiry into the elections reported in Oct., 2008, that in some areas politicians and business owners had participated in the planning and organization of the post-election clashes. It called for a tribunal to try those who had instigated the violence, but parliament subsequently failed to pass legislation establishing the tribunal.

In July, 2009, Kenya reached a deal with the International Criminal Court under which Kenya agreed to establish a tribunal by July, 2010, but after Kenya failed to meet a Sept., 2009, planning deadline, the ICC's chief prosecutor announced the court would prosecute those most responsible for the violence. In Apr., 2010, the parliament finally approved a draft constitution; the document, which increased checks on presidential power and devolved some powers to local governments, was approved in a referendum in August; effective after the 2013 elections, the position of prime minister was abolished. In Dec., 2010, the ICC named six prominent Kenyans, including Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, that it accused of crimes against humanity; Kenya's subsequent attempts to get the UN Security Council to defer their trials failed.

In Oct., 2011, Kenyan forces invaded S Somalia and began operations against hardline Islamist forces, which Kenya held responsible for a series of attacks in Kenya. Beginning in late 2012 there were increasing tensions and violence in Mombasa and coastal Kenya involving, separately, secessionists who wish to see the coast independent of Kenya and hardline Islamists. The Mar., 2013, presidential election was primarily a contest between Odinga and Kenyatta; the latter secured more than 50% of the vote by the thinnest of margins, avoiding a runoff. Odinga challenged the result in court, but the vote was upheld; the final tally had been delayed by failures in the vote counting system, and the national count lacked transparency, according to observers. The coalition supporting Kenyatta won pluralities in the Senate and National Assembly.

In Sept., 2013, Vice President William Ruto went on trial at the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity. Later in the month Islamists mounted an armed terror attack against a Nairobi shopping center that left more than 60 people dead. Although Somalia's Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, eyewitness reports suggested that some of the attackers may have been Kenyan. Deadly terror attacks and Islamist violence have continued sporadically since then, particularly in coastal and northern areas. The ICC charges against President Kenyatta were withdrawn in 2015 due to insufficient evidence. In Apr., 2015, Al Shabab again mounted a murderous attack in the country, in E Kenya at Garissa Univ. College, killing some 150 people and injuring many others.


See R. A. Oliver et al., ed., History of East Africa (3 vol., 1963–76); C. G. Rosberg and J. C. Nottingham, The Myth of Mau Mau: Nationalism in Kenya (1966); M. P. K. Sorenson, The Origins of European Settlement in Kenya (1969); C. Leo, Land and Class in Kenya (1984); M. G. Schatzberg, ed., The Political Economy of Kenya (1987); W. R. Ocheing, ed., Themes in Kenyan History (1990); D. Branch, Defeating Mau Mau, Creating Kenya (2009).

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The population of Kenya includes forty-two traditional ethnic groups (CBS 1994), which can be broadly divided into three groups: the Bantu, Nilotes, and Cushites. These three categories of ethnic groups are spread all over the country, and no particular group can be tied to one region. The regional boundaries do little to separate the similarity of customs and beliefs possessed by each group, owing to their common heritage and contacts over hundreds of years. Commonly, then, cultural traits exhibited by one ethnic group of a broader group in one region are the same as those of another ethnic group of the same broader group in a different region.

With the advent of modernity—education, technology, urbanization, Western religion and changing socioeconomic factors—the Kenyan society has increasingly become universal, and ethnic identities and affiliations are steadily fading. This has brought a degree of universality in the way of life as contemporary society adapts to new situations that were totally unknown to traditional society. Family life has also changed, with many families caught between the traditional family system that advocates for solidarity and the modern system, which is characterized by individualism, a shift that developed because of changing religious, social, political, and economic factors.

Family relations are undergoing redefinition within the emerging structures of socially and economically viable domestic groups. The HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1990s has also given a new dimension to the Kenyan concept of marriage and family by challenging African traditional beliefs, marital roles, familial obligations, morality, and sexuality. Nevertheless, although these changes are widespread, in view of the cultural diversity in the country and difference in pace of adaptation to the changing social and economic environment, family structures and forms are not uniform.

The Concept of Marriage and Family

Marriage in the traditional Kenyan context is defined as a rite of passage that every individual is expected to undergo in his or her lifetime, and the integral purpose of this institution is to widen the kinship network of the individual through procreation. Also, affinal relatives (relatives by marriage) are acquired in addition to consaguineal kin (blood relatives). Families are made of a wide network of members, including brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, in-laws, unborn children, and deceased relatives. The wide network of family members functions as a social unit with norms and beliefs and as an economic unit for the survival of its members.

The family system in Kenya is mainly patriarchal (consisting of paternal lineage or descent) and patrilocal (consisting of paternal residence). This system is emphasized by the need for the groom or his family to pay dowry to the bride's family before marriage. Payment of dowry is usually in the form of money or in kind (livestock) and may be done a few days before the marriage or over a long period, from the time of birth to years after the marriage. Dowry serves to fulfill justice and legality in the eyes of the families involved. With marriages breaking down in the modern society, this tradition is seen as a factor that links the society to the strong moral standards of earlier days because the woman feels worthwhile to her husband and may, hence, stay faithful to the marriage.

On the other hand, modern, educated and urbanite Kenyans, who ardently believe in marriage based on love, view this tradition in the reverse, arguing that it builds the marriage on purely economic factors because the wife's motivation to stay faithful to the marriage is based on fear that her parents would be required to return the dowry to her husband's family should she fail in her marriage. The argument goes on to draw attention to the demeaning status that the wife is subjected to as she is viewed as a commodity to be bought and sold (Kilbride 1994). With women subject to this situation, men are favored to control property, income, and labor. Furthermore, dowry violates women's rights because it encourages early marriages in cases where parents are eager to collect dowry on marrying off their daughters. It is against this backdrop that the dowry tradition is slowly eroding.

The Extended Family

The extended family system is the most important indigenous African institution, forming the pillar on which rests the entire social organization. With some modification to the traditional system to suit modern Kenya, this family type is the most common in the country. Traditionally, the extended family system worked as a welfare system aimed at ensuring that all members were loved and cared for at all times. This type of family may be intergenerational, and it may be based on exogamous, endogamous, or polygynous unions. With modernization, the extended family has taken on different forms, which can be divided into the following categories:

  1. Stem families, which are made up of extended family, which in turn is made up of either a female-headed household with affines (relatives by marriage) and consaguines (blood relatives), or a man, children, and grandchildren, or in rare cases, a solitary person. In many cases in which the household head is a woman, the consaguines are usually grandchildren who are borne out of wedlock through their daughters' premarital or adolescent pregnancies (Kilbride and Kilbride 1997).
  2. Composite extended families, which consist of at least two nuclear families (monogamous or polygynous) that may be extended by generation. A common case of this family type is when a man dies and his brother inherits his wife or wives, thereby making his dead brother's family part of his own. Although still widely practiced in some communities in Kenya, wife inheritance is slowly disappearing following massive government, community, health, and nongovernmental organizations' campaigns to end the practice in a bid to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.
  3. Nuclear families and consaguines, which consist of parents, children, and grandchildren (Kilbride and Kilbride 1990).

Child fostering is an integral aspect of the extended family, and until the late 1980s, it was widespread because it was a necessary welfare system that was entwined in the family structure. The most common scenarios of fostering depict poor rural peasants sending their children to be fostered by richer relatives in the urban areas, and poor urban migrants sending their children back to their kin in the village (Nelson 1987). Child fostering is known to sustain large families (Isiugo-Abanihe 1994; Anonymous 1987), and it is therefore not surprising that, with a drop in child fostering, the national total fertility rate fell from 7.7 per woman in 1984 to 4.7 in 1998. However, it is important to note that the reduction in the national total fertility rate is not the sole achievement of the reduction in child fostering but is the result of many factors, with contraception taking the leading role. Evidence suggests fostering is being weakened by social and economic changes and the availability of alternate childcare options. Kenya's constitution calls for the state provision of care and protection of abused or neglected children, and the courts choose foster parents (Umbima 1991). Although well-defined regulations are in place to govern this process, Kenya does not have the resources to put them into effect. Furthermore, with an average of four children, Kenyan families have limited economic ability to take in foster children. One result seems to be that Kenya is experiencing an upsurge in the numbers of street children in urban centers. A report by the Kenyan government and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimated the national figure of children in need of special protection (CNSP) in Kenya at 300,000 (GOK/UNICEF, 1998).

The Nonextended Family

Because of the changing social and economic environment, individual relationships have gained popularity, and marriage has ceased to represent ties between social groups; rather, it is an alliance between individuals. The nonextended family system is now widespread, with the most common form being the monogamous nuclear family found in both urban and rural areas. The other forms of this family type are the composite polygynous, which consists of a man, his wife or wives, and their children (most common in rural areas), and the stem nonextended or single-parent family consisting of one parent and children (common in the urban areas). Most single-parent families consist of the woman as the parent, a trend increasingly emerging among urban and professional women. Many of these women view marriage as an option that is detrimental to their attempts to have careers, professional occupations, and independent lifestyles. Autonomy is first on the agenda as many single mothers choose to have children with married or younger men who will not have absolute influence or authority over them (Kilbride 1994). This suggests a redefinition, based on gender, of roles and practices and a new form of social relationship between family members. Also, the increase in single-parent families in Kenya is attributed to high incidences of teenage pregnancy and premarital and extramarital sex.

According to Andrev Ocholla-Ayayo (1997a; 1997b), a leading anthropologist in the Kenyan study of family systems, the society has devalued traditional sexual mores, and premarital and extramarital sexual relationships are gaining acceptance. With this societal attitude towards sexuality, it is not surprising that mortality as a result of HIV/AIDS is high, and the resulting widowhood is increasingly contributing to the cases of single parenthood. Another emerging pattern is that of child-headed or youth-headed families when children are orphaned when parents die of HIV/AIDS infection (National Council for Population and Development [NCPD] 2000).


Anthropological literature often reports that African cultures greatly value polygyny, the term used when one man has more than one wife. Traditionally, it is the woman who chooses a cowife—someone with whom she can cope well, like a younger sister or cousin, and in cases where the husband needs a subsequent wife, the preceding wives get to pick their co-wife or wives (Whyte 1980; Lwanga 1976). A man was only qualified to be polygynous if he was rich enough to take care of several wives and children, and the number of wives a man had directly reflected his economic status.

In contemporary Kenya, evidence suggests that polygyny is still accepted, especially among men and, to a little extent, traditional African women. Modern urban women, educated in the West, apparently disdain this institution. They often view women in polygynous unions as being deprived of their basic rights within marriage, having to compete between themselves rather than being partners with their husbands. These families are also economically deprived and live in disharmony as they increasingly compete for the scarce resources at this time when poverty is on the increase in Kenya. However, there is argument that, surprisingly, the very women who disregard polygyny and opt for single parenthood have their children fathered by married men. Could this be, in fact, a reinvented form of polygyny for current times? (Kilbride 1994).

Among the circumstances resulting in polygyny is rural-urban migration in search of cash income. For many male migrants, polygyny is a solution to the problem of spending a lot of time and resources travelling upcountry to be with their families. Therefore, it is not surprising that in today's emerging forms of polygyny, men have latter wives living with them in the urban areas while the first wives take care of their rural homesteads. In some cases, the wives share labor and company in their rural home while the husband is away in town (Kilbride and Kilbride 1990; Kilbride 1994). Also, lack of forces to monitor and sanction who is eligible for polygyny has led to the current economic strife among polygynous families. Traditional leaders and elders who were commissioned to regulate and monitor family lives have lost their authority, and as a result, men who traditionally would not qualify to be polygynous on economic grounds are marrying freely. The erosion of the dowry tradition, which would have required men to pay for the acquisition of additional wives, also mitigates the economic implications that arise from polygyny.


Evidently, family and marriage relations in Kenya are gradually changing in response to the changing social and economic environment. In this regard, indigenously favored family systems are eroding, either through complete abandonment or evolution into more viable forms that are conventional with modern Kenya.

See also:Extended Families; Kinship


anonymous. (1987). "african fertility decline will not happen soon without major attitudinal and cultural changes." international family planning perspectives. 13(3):109–11.

central bureau of statistics (cbs). (1994). kenya population census 1989. nairobi: government printer.

government of kenya. (gok)/unicef (1998). situationanalysis of children and women in kenya. nairobi: reproduction and distribution section, united nations office.

isiugo-abanihe, u. c. (1994). "parenthood in sub-saharan africa: child fostering and its relationship with fertility." in the onset of fertility transition in sub-saharan africa, ed. t. locoh and v. hertrich. liege, belgium: international union for the scientific study of population.

kilbride, p. (1994). plural marriage for our times: a reinvented option? westport, ct: greenwood.

kilbride, p. l., and kilbride, j. c. (1990). changing familylife in east africa: women and children at risk. university park: pennsylvania state university press.

kilbride, p. l., and kilbride, j. c. (1997). "stigma, role and delocalization among contemporary kenyan women." in african families and the crisis of social change, ed. t. s. weisner, c. bradley, and p. l. kilbride, in collaboration with a. b. c. ocholla-ayayo, j. akong'a, and s. wandibba. westport, ct: bergin and garvey.

lwanga, g. (1976). "report on the health of clan health workers." nangina, kenya: nangina hospital.

national council for population and development. (2000). sessional paper no. 1 of 2000 on national population policy for sustainable development. nairobi, kenya: government printer.

nelson, n. (1987). "rural-urban child fostering in kenya: migration, kinship ideology and class." in migrants, workers, and social order, ed. j. eades. london: association of social anthropologists.

ocholla-ayayo, a. b. (1997a). "the african family between tradition and modernity." in family, population and development in africa, ed. a. adepoju. london: zed books.

ocholla-ayayo, a. b. (1997b). "hiv/aids risk and changing sexual practices in kenya." in african families and the crisis of social change, ed. t. s. weisner, c. bradley, and p. l. kilbride, in collaboration with a.b.c. ocholla-ayayo, j. akong'a, and s. wandibba. westport, ct: bergin and garvey.

umbima, k. j. (1991). "regulating foster care services: the kenyan situation." child welfare 70(2):169–74.

whyte, s. (1980). "wives and co-wives in marachi, kenya." folk 22:134-146.

salome nasiroli wawire

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Irio .............................................................................. 10
Western Kenya Cabbage and Egg ............................... 11
Ugali ........................................................................... 12
Sukuma Wiki ............................................................... 12
Yogurt Chutney .......................................................... 13
Nyama Choma (Grilled Meat) ..................................... 14
Githeri......................................................................... 14
Matoke (Mashed Plantains) ......................................... 14


Kenya is located in East Africa near the Equator (the imaginary line that divides the Earth into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres). The country is approximately twice the size of Nevada. The southeast part of Kenya borders the Indian Ocean. The land regions are varied and range from year-round snow in the Kenya and Kilimanjaro Mountains to warm, tropical beaches. Some of the regions are desert, but most land is rolling grasslands and forests.

Kenya's climate is as varied as the land areas. Typically, there are two rainy seasons. The highest amount of rainfall occurs in April and the least rainfall occurs in January. The evenings in the Central Highlands can be quite chilly and the coastal areas are usually hot and humid.


When the Portuguese arrived in 1496 on the coast of Kenya, they introduced foods from newly discovered Brazil. Maize, bananas, pineapple, chilies, peppers, sweet potatoes, and cassava were brought in and became local staples. The Portuguese also brought oranges, lemons, and limes from China and India, as well as pigs.

Pastoralism (cattle herding) has a long history in Kenya. Around a.d. 1000, a clan from North Africa called the Hima introduced cattle herding. By the 1600s, groups like the Maasai and Turkana ate beef exclusively. Cattle provided meat, milk, butter, and blood.

When the Europeans arrived at the shores of Kenya, they brought with them white potatoes, cucumbers, and tomatoes. The British imported thousands of Indians for labor, and curries (spicy dishes made with curry spice), chapattis (a flat, disk-shaped bread made of wheat flour, water, and salt) and chutneys (a relish made of spices, herbs, and/or fruit) became a traditional Sunday lunch for many Kenyans.


Kenya is a multi-racial society, the majority of people comprising native ethnic groups. The rest of the population is Asian, Arab, and European. The official languages of Kenya are Swahili and English.

Traditional Kenyan foods reflect the many different lifestyles of the various groups in the country. Most Kenyan dishes are filling and inexpensive to make. Staple foods consist mainly of corn, maize, potatoes, and beans. Ugali (a porridge made of maize) and meat are typically eaten inland, while the coastal peoples eat a more varied diet.

The Maasai, cattle-herding peoples who live in Kenya and Tanzania, eat simple foods, relying on cow and goat by-products (such as the animal's meat and milk). The Maasai do not eat any wild game or fish, depending only on the livestock they raise for food.

The Kikuyu and Gikuyu grow corn, beans, potatoes, and greens. They mash all of these vegetables together to make irio. They roll irio into balls and dip them into meat or vegetable stews.

In western Kenya, the people living near Lake Victoria (the second-largest freshwater lake in the world) mainly prepare fish stews, vegetable dishes, and rice.



  • 2 cups corn
  • 2 cups red kidney beans
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups spinach
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Place the potatoes into a pot, cover with water, and boil until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the corn, beans, and spinach and cook over low to medium heat until vegetables are soft.
  3. Add the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and mash the mixture with a fork or wooden spoon.

Serves 4.

Western Kenya Cabbage and Egg


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small cabbage, chopped
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt, to taste


  1. In a saucepan, boil the water, then add the cabbage. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain, season with salt, and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onions and tomatoes. Cook over medium heat until soft.
  4. Add the salted cabbage to the frying pan and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. In a small mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Stir the eggs into the frying pan with the vegetable mixture and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the eggs are thoroughly cooked.
  6. Serve with rice, ugali, or potatoes.

Serves 2 to 4.

The only place where a distinct cuisine has developed is on the eastern coast, where Swahili dishes reflect the history of contact with the Arabs and other Indian Ocean traders. They sailed in with dried fruits, rice, and spices, which expanded the Swahili diet. Here, coconut and spices are used heavily.

Although there is not a specific national cuisine, there are two national dishes: ugali and nyama choma. Maize (corn) is a Kenyan staple and the main ingredient of ugali, which is thick and similar to porridge. Many Kenyans eat this on a daily basis. It takes a lot of practice to boil the porridge without burning it. Ugali is usually eaten with meat, stews, or sukuma wiki, which literally translates to "stretch the week." This means that the food is used to stretch meals to last for the week.Sukuma wiki is a combination of chopped spinach or kale (a leafy green vegetable) that is fried with onions, tomatoes, maybe a green pepper, and any leftover meat, if available. It is seasoned with salt and some pepper. The traditional way of eating ugali is to pinch off a piece of the dough with the right hand, and shape it into a scoop by pressing and indentation into the dough with the thumb. The ugali is used to scoop sauces or stew.



  • 1 cup milk
  • 1¼ cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup water


  1. Pour the milk into a mixing bowl. Slowly add ¾ cup of the cornmeal and whisk constantly into a paste.
  2. Heat the water in a medium saucepan to boiling.
  3. Using a wooden spoon, stir cornmeal and milk paste mixture into the boiling water. Reduce heat to low.
  4. Slowly add the remaining ½ cup of cornmeal, stirring constantly. The mixture should be smooth with no lumps.
  5. Cook for about 3 minutes. When the mixture begins to stick together and pull away from the sides of the pan, remove from heat.
  6. Pour mixture into a greased serving bowl and allow to cool.
  7. Serve at room temperature as a side dish to meat and vegetables.

Serves 4.

Sukuma Wiki


  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • One bunch sukuma (kale or collard greens), chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt


  1. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the onions. Sauté about 2 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add tomato and greens and sauté about 1 minute.
  3. Add ½ cup water and then add salt to taste. Let the mixture simmer until the sukuma is tender.

Serves 2.

Nyama choma is roasted or grilled meat, usually goat. The process of grilling meat in Kenya is different from the process of barbequing meat typically used in the United States. Basting (moistening the meat) and the use of herbs and seasonings (except salt and pepper) are not used in most Kenyan dishes. When eating nyama choma at a restaurant, the diner chooses from a selection of meat that is bought by the kilogram (1 kilogram equals about 2 pounds). It is grilled plain and brought to the table sliced into bite-sized pieces. It is often served with mashed vegetables.

The varied climate and geographical areas in Kenya are home to many different types of fruits. Some examples are mangoes, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, oranges, guavas, bananas (many varieties), coconuts, and passion fruit. Passion fruit juice is sold everywhere and is the most popular, known locally in English simply as "passion."


Kenya's religious heritage mirrors its ethnic history. About 65 percent of the population are Christians and 2 to 4 percent are Muslim. The remainder practice traditional native beliefs.

Christmas in Kenya is a time for social gatherings and food. Visitors will stop at the homes of friends and family, and food is served to everyone. Christmas dinner is likely to be fish or nyama choma. Goat or beef is used for nyama choma, although goat is considered a greater delicacy. Vegetables, fruit, and chapattis are often served with chutney.

Yogurt Chutney


  • 1½ cups yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons mint, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Hot pepper flakes, to taste


  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Chill.
  3. Serve as a condiment for meats and vegetables.

Nyama Choma


  • 3 pounds beef short ribs or spare ribs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Season the ribs with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill on a gas or charcoal grill over medium-high heat for 1 hour. Alternatively, roast in the oven at 300°F for 1½ to 2 hours. The meat should be dry and chewy.

Serves 4 to 6.

One of the biggest celebrations in Kenya is Kenyatta Day (October 20). It is in honor of Kenya's first president and patriot, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. During this holiday (and all observed holidays), schools and businesses are closed. Celebrations include festivities such as dancing in homes, bars, and nightclubs. Feasts of nyama choma, candy, and bottled drinks, such as Fanta (orange soda), are common.


A typical Kenyan chakula (meal) is usually a heavy staple food, such as ugali or potatoes, with a side of vegetables. Ugali is typically served on a large dish where everyone can reach (using the right hand). Fruit is usually eaten for dessert in place of sweets.

Mandazi, a semisweet, flat doughnut, is usually eaten at chakula cha asubuhi (breakfast) with kahawa or chai (coffee and tea in Swahili). Chai is served very milky and sweet. The tea, milk, and sugar are put into cold water and brought to a boil. Kenyans also eat chapattis at breakfast and usually dunk it into their coffee.

Lunch is the main chakula of the day. Meat such as beef, goat, or mutton (sheep) is most commonly eaten. Other dishes can include githeri, a mix of beans (usually red kidney beans) and corn, and matoke, or mashed plantains (similar to a banana). Foods served at dinner are much like what is served at lunch.



  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can kidney beans


  1. Pour corn and beans into a saucepan.
  2. Heat on medium to low and simmer until cooked through.
  3. Serve with chapattis, ugali, and meat to complete a Kenyan meal.

Serves 2 to 3.

Matoke (Mashed Plantains)


  • 8 plantains (can be found in most supermarkets)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste


  1. Peel the plantains.
  2. In a bowl, soak in lukewarm water with lemon juice for 2 minutes.
  3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan.
  4. Fry the onions and coriander for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add pepper flakes to taste.
  6. Add the bananas and cover with the beef stock.
  7. Simmer on low heat for about 30 to 35 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6.

A knife and fork are usually used when eating European cuisine in Kenya. When eating the traditional Kenyan way, a piece of ugali, held in the right hand, is used as a sort of utensil to scoop up food. The Kiswahili word for "right" is kulia, which means "to eat with." The right hand is usually used to pass and accept items. Use of the left hand is considered improper. Eating customs vary throughout Kenya. For example, among the Samburu, warriors avoid eating in front of women, men are often served first, and children sometimes eat separately from adults.

Street vendors are found on almost any street corner in Kenya and offer a variety of snacks. Sambusas are deep-fried pastry triangles stuffed with spiced minced meat and are considered the most common snack. Corn on the cob is roasted on a wire grill over a bed of hot coals and sold cheaply for a few Kenyan shillings (one Kenya shilling equals about sixty U.S. cents). Another snack is called mkate mayai ("bread eggs"), a wheat dough spread into a thin pancake, filled with minced meat and raw egg, then folded. Sweets such as ice cream, yogurt, and deep fried yams (eaten with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of chili powder), are offered as well. In rural areas, children can be seen snacking on roasted maize (corn) and sugar cane. Kenyan children like to snack on burgers and fries as well, which are sold in fast food shops.

Kenyans enjoy eating in a variety of international restaurants and fast-food chains. Fries with ketchup are popular, along with sausages, eggs, fish, and chicken. Most fast food restaurants are located in Nairobi, Kenya's capital city.


At the beginning of the twenty-first century, a prolonged drought (especially affecting northern Kenya) was a major cause of malnutrition, destroying food crops and forcing poorer families to live on meals of maize. This lack of protein results in deficiency diseases, especially with younger children. Symptoms of such diseases include fatigue and lethargy. In children, lack of protein results in poor growth with generalized swelling. A protuding round stomach is a common and visible symptom of severe malnutrition. Skin rashes and hair loss are also common.

About 41 percent of the population of Kenya is classified as undernourished by the World Bank. This means they do not receive adequate nutrition in their diet. Of children under the age of five, about 23 percent are underweight, and over 34 percent are stunted (short for their age).



Eldon, Kathy. More Specialities of the House. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenway Publications, 1989.

Gardner, Ann. Karibu: Welcome To the Cooking of Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenway Publications, Ltd., 1993.

Kairi, Wambui. Kenya. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers, 2000.

Karimbux, Adil. A Taste of Kenyan Cooking. Nairobi: Kenway Publications, 1998.

Web Sites

BellaOnline. [Online] Available (accessed April 11, 2001).

Department of African Studies at University of Pennsylvania. [Online] Available (accessed April 11, 2001).

International Expeditions. [Online] Available (accessed April 11, 2001).

Kenyalogy. [Online] Available (accessed April 11, 2001).

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KENYA. A country of East Africa and member of the COMMONWEALTH. Languages: SWAHILI (official), English (second), indigenous languages. British control of Kenya was established by the Berlin Conference in 1885. The British East African Protectorate was established in 1895, opening the way to European settlers, especially in the area known as the White Highlands. In 1920, Kenya became a British colony. In 1944, African participation in politics was permitted. The Mau Mau rebellion lasted from 1952 to 1960 and Kenya gained its independence in 1963. English was the official language immediately after independence, but a constitutional amendment in 1969 instituted the use of Swahili in the National Assembly. In 1974, Swahili replaced English as the official language. At the time, President Jomo Kenyatta stated:
The basis of any independent government is a national language, and we can no longer continue aping our former colonizers…. I do know that some people will start murmuring that the time is not right for this decision; to hell with such people! Those who feel they cannot do without English can as well pack up and go (public address, Nairobi, 1974).English is, however, the language of higher education and of professional and social status, used by most senior administrators and military officers. The 1967 curriculum focuses on mathematics, science, and English, which is valued as the language of modernity and mobility, often used to express authority, even at the family level, if the parents know it. The mixing of English, Swahili, and the indigenous languages is common. The first newspaper in Kenya was the African Standard (established in 1902), now known as the Standard. Other English-language publications are the Daily Nation (established in 1960) and the Weekly Review. Both the Voice of Kenya radio and Kenyan TV broadcast in English as well as Swahili. Contemporary writers include NGUGI WA THIONG'O (b. 1938) and Mugo Gatheru (b. 1925). In terms of its linguistic features, Kenyan English is usually considered part of EAST AFRICAN ENGLISH, but the authenticity and homogeneity of both the regional and the national variety are currently controversial matters in Kenya.

The following points can, however, be made with some confidence: (1) In pronunciation, Kenyan English is non-rhotic. (2) The fricatives /ɵ, ð/ are generally replaced by the stops /t, d/: ‘tree of dem’ for three of them. (3) Affricates tend to become fricatives: ‘inrisht’ for enriched, ‘hwis’ for which, ‘jos’ for judge. (4) The consonants /b, v/ are often devoiced: ‘laf’ for love and ‘rup’ or ‘rop’ for rub. (5) The sounds /f, p/ may be hypercorrected to their voiced counterparts, laughing and loving becoming HOMOPHONES as ‘lavin’. (6) Final -l is often deleted: ‘andastandebu’ for understandable, ‘loko’ for local, ‘pipu’ for people. (7) Usually uncountable nouns are often countable: Thank you for your many advices; We eat a lot of breads; I held the child on my laps; A lady with big bums is attractive. (8) The semantic range of some words has been extended: dry (of coffee) without milk or sugar, medicine chemicals, hear to feel (pain), to understand (language). (9) LOANWORDS and LOAN TRANSLATIONS from indigenous languages are common: panga a machete, sufuria a cooking pot, sima cornmeal paste, clean heart without guile.

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580,370sq km (224,081sq mi)



capital (population):

Nairobi (2,143,254)


Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Kikuyu 21%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kamba 11%, Kalenjin 11%


Swahili and English (both official)


Christianity (Roman Catholic 27%, Protestant 19%, others 27%), traditional beliefs 19%, Islam 6%


Kenya shilling = 100 cents

Republic on the e coast of Africa. The Republic of Kenya straddles the Equator in East Africa. Mombasa lies on the narrow coastal plain. Most of Kenya comprises high plains. In the nw is an area of high scrubland around Lake Turkana. In the sw are the Kenyan highlands, including Mount Kenya, the country's highest peak at 5199m (17,057ft), and the capital, Nairobi. The Great Rift Valley cuts through w Kenya.

Climate and Vegetation

Mombasa is hot and humid. Inland the climate is moderated by elevation: Nairobi has summer temperatures 10°C (18°F) lower than Mombasa. The coast is lined with mangrove swamps. The inland plains are bushlands. Much of the n is semi-desert. Forests and grasslands are found in the densely populated sw highlands.

History and Politics

Some of the earliest hominid fossils have been found in s Kenya. Kenya's coast has been a trading centre for more than 2000 years. In the 8th century, the Arabs founded settlements. In the 16th century, Portuguese traders controlled the area. In 1729, Arab dynasties regained control. Britain gained rights to the coast in 1895. Colonization began in 1903, and land was acquired from the Kikuyu for plantations and farms. The territory divided into the inland Kenya Colony and the coastal Protectorate of Kenya. European settlement intensified. The employment of Africans as plantation and farm labourers led to social unrest. Mau Mau waged an armed struggle (1952–56) for land rights and independence. Britain declared a state of emergency and imprisoned its leader, Jomo Kenyatta.

In 1963, Kenya achieved independence, becoming a republic in 1964. Jomo Kenyatta was the first president. His authoritarian regime tried to establish unity. Drought and territorial disputes with Uganda and Tanzania created civil unrest. In 1978, Kenyatta died and was succeeded by Daniel Arap Moi. In 1982, the Kenya African National Union became the sole legal political party. Following nationwide riots in 1988, the government agreed to reform. Moi was re-elected in multi-party elections in 1992 and 1997, both of which were widely regarded as flawed. In 1998, a bomb at the US Embassy in Nairobi killed more than 230 people and injured thousands. In 2001, Moi created the first coalition government in Kenya's history. In November 2002, a terrorist car-bomb at a hotel in Mombassa killed 16 people. In 2002 elections, Mwai Kibaki won a landslide victory to become a president.


Kenya is a developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$1500). Agriculture employs c.80% of the workforce. It is the world's fourth-largest tea producer. Coffee is another major cash crop. The chief food crop is maize. Kenya's game reserves attract many tourists.

Political map

Physical map


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Kenya. Former British protectorate and colony in eastern Africa. British interest in the region in the 19th cent.—missionary, anti-slave trade, then legitimate trade—saw Kenya only as a route to the more remote interior. A British protectorate was declared in 1895. The development of its agricultural resources by white settlers was made possible by the administration's need to generate income and by the construction of the Uganda railway from 1897. So influential did the settlers become that the country was declared a colony in 1920. Although African resentment of the advantages enjoyed by the whites became more vocal, and despite Britain's having declared a policy of trusteeship for Africans in 1923, the economy remained under settler control. The change in Britain's attitude towards colonial dependencies in the 1950s led to Kenyan independence under African rule in 1963.

Kenneth Ingham

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Culture Name


Alternative Names

Jamhuri ya Kenya


Identification. The country takes its name from Mount Kenya, located in the central highlands.

Location and Geography. Kenya is located in East Africa and borders Somalia to the northeast, Ethiopia to the north, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west, Tanzania to the south, and the Indian Ocean to the east. The country straddles the equator, covering a total of 224,961 square miles (582,600 square kilometers; roughly twice the size of the state of Nevada). Kenya has wide white-sand beaches on the coast. Inland plains cover three-quarters of the country; they are mostly bush, covered in underbrush. In the west are the highlands where the altitude rises from three thousand to ten thousand feet. Nairobi, Kenya's largest city and capital, is located in the central highlands. The highest point, at 17,058 feet (5,200 meters), is Mount Kenya. Kenya shares Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa and the main source of the Nile River, with Tanzania and Uganda. Another significant feature of Kenyan geography is the Great Rift Valley, the wide, steep canyon that cuts through the highlands. Kenya is also home to some of the world's most spectacular wildlife, including elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, antelope, wildebeests, and many rare and beautiful species of birds. Unfortunately, the animal population is threatened by both hunting and an expanding human population; wildlife numbers fell drastically through the twentieth century. The government has introduced strict legislation regulating hunting, and has established a system of national parks to protect the wildlife.

Demography. According to an estimate in July 2000, Kenya's population is 30,339,770. The population has been significantly reduced by the AIDS epidemic, as have the age and sex distributions of the population. Despite this scourge, however, the birth rate is still significantly higher than the death rate and the population continues to grow.

There are more than forty ethnic groups in the country. The largest of these is the Kikuyu, representing 22 percent of the population. Fourteen percent is Luhya, 13 percent is Luo, 12 percent is Kalenjin, 11 percent Kamba, 6 percent Kisii, and 6 percent Meru. Others, including the Somalis and the Turkana in the north and the Kalenjin in the Great Rift Valley, comprise approximately 15 percent of the population. These ethnic categories are further broken down into subgroups. One percent of the population is non-African, mostly of Indian and European descent.

Linguistic Affiliation. The official languages are English and Kiswahili (or Swahili). Swahili, which comes from the Arabic word meaning "coast," is a mix of Arabic and the African language Bantu. It first developed in the tenth century with the arrival of Arab traders; it was a lingua franca that allowed different tribes to communicate with each other and with the Arabs. The major language groups native to the region include Bantu in the west and along the coast, Nilotic near Lake Victoria, and Cushitic in the north.

English is the language generally used in government and business. It is also used in most of the schools, although there has been movement towards using Kiswahili as the teaching language. English is not spoken solely by the elite, but only people with a certain level of education speak it.

Symbolism. The Kenyan flag has three horizontal stripesred, black, and greenseparated by thin white bands. The black symbolizes the people of Kenya, the red stands for the blood shed in the fight for independence, and the green symbolizes agriculture. In the center of the flag is a red shield with black and white markings and two crossed spears, which stands for vigilance in the defense of freedom.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The Great Rift Valley is thought to be one of the places where human beings originated, and archeologists working in the valley have found remains of what they speculate are some of the earliest human ancestors. The first known inhabitants of present-day Kenya were Cushitic-speaking tribes that migrated to the northwest region from Ethiopa around 2000 b.c.e. Eastern Cushites began to arrive about one thousand years later, and occupied much of the country's current area. During the period from 500 b.c.e. to 500 c.e., other tribes arrived from various parts of Africa. Tribal disagreements often led to war during this time.

In the 900s, Arab merchants arrived and established trading centers along the coast of East Africa. Over the ensuing eight centuries, they succeeded in converting many Kenyans to Islam. Some Arabs settled in the area and intermarried with local groups.

Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed at Mombasa in 1498, after discovering a sailing route around the Cape of Good Hope. The Portuguese colonized much of the region, but the Arabs managed to evict them in 1729. In the mid-1800s, European explorers stumbled upon Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, and began to take an interest in the natural resources of East Africa. Christian missionaries came as well, drawn by the large numbers of prospective converts.

Britain gradually increased its domain in the region, and in 18841885, Kenya was named a British protectorate by the Congress of Berlin, which divided the African continent among various European powers. The British constructed the Uganda Railway, which connected the ports on Kenya's coast to landlocked Uganda. The increasing economic opportunities brought thousands of British settlers who displaced many Africans, often forcing them to live on reservations. The Africans resistedthe Kikuyu in particular put up a strong fightbut they were defeated by the superior military power of the British.

During the early twentieth century, the British colonizers forced the Africans to work their farms in virtual slavery, and kept the upper hand by making it illegal for the Kenyans to grow their own food. In the early 1920s, a Kikuyu named Harry Thuku began to encourage rebellion among his tribe and founded the East Africa Association. He was arrested by the British in 1922, provoking a popular protest. The British reacted violently, killing twenty-five people in what came to be called the Nairobi Massacre.

Desire for self-rule continued to build and in 1944 the Kenya African Union, a nationalist party, was founded. In 1946, the Kikuyu leader Jomo Kenyatta returned after sixteen years in England and began agitating for Kenyan independence. Back on his home soil, he was elected president of the Kenya African Union. His rallying cry was uhuru, Swahili for freedom. While Kenyatta advocated peaceful rebellion, other Kikuyu formed secret societies that pledged to win independence for Kenya using whatever means necessary, including violence. In the early 1950s, members of these groups (called Mau Mau) murdered 32 white civilians, as well as 167 police officers and 1,819 Kikuyu who disagreed with their absolutist stance or who supported the colonial government. In retaliation for these murders, the British killed a total of 11,503 Mau Mau and their sympathizers. British policy also included displacing entire tribes and interning them in barbed-wire camps.

Despite Kenyatta's public denouncement of the Mau Mau, the British tried him as a Mau Mau leader and imprisoned him for nine years. While Kenyatta was in jail, two other leaders stepped in to fill his place. Tom Mboya, of the Luo tribe, was the more moderate of the two, and had the support of Western nations. Oginga Oginga, also a Luo, was more radical, and received support from the Soviet bloc. One common goal of the two was to give blacks the right to vote. In a 1957 election, blacks won their first representation in the colonial government and eight blacks were elected to seats in the legislature. By 1961, they constituted a majority of the body.

In 1960 at the Lancaster House Conference in London the English approved Kenyan independence, setting the date for December 1963. Kenyatta, released from prison in 1961, became prime minister of a newly independent Kenya on 12 December 1963 and was elected to the office of president the following year. Although he was a Kikuyu, one of Kenyatta's primary goals was to overcome tribalism. He appointed members of different ethnic groups to his government, including Mboya and Oginga. His slogan became harambee, meaning "Let's all pull together." In 1966, however, Oginga abrogated his position as vice-president to start his own political party. Kenyatta, fearing cultural divisiveness, arrested Oginga and outlawed all political parties except his own. On 5 July 1969, Tom Mboya was assassinated, and tensions between the Luo and the Kikuyu increased. In elections later that year, Kenyatta won reelection and political stability returned. Overall, the fifteen years of Kenyatta's presidency were a time of economic and political stability. When Kenyatta died on 22 August 1978, the entire nation mourned his death. The vice-president, Daniel Toroitich arap Moi (a Kalenjin of the Tugen subgroup) took over. His presidency was confirmed in a general election ninety days later.

Moi initially promised to improve on Kenyatta's government by ending corruption and releasing political prisoners. While he made some progress on these goals, Moi gradually restricted people's liberty, outlawing all political parties except his own. In 1982, a military coup attempted to overthrow Moi. The coup was unsuccessful, and the president responded by temporarily closing the University of Nairobi, shutting down churches that dissented from his view, and giving himself the power to appoint and fire judges. Moi did away with secret ballots, and several times changed election dates spontaneously to keep people from voting. Moi's opposition has faced even more blatant obstacles: Legislator Charles Rubia, who protested the policy of waiting in line to vote, was arrested and later lost his seat in a rigged election; Robert Ouko, Moi's Minister of Foreign Affairs, threatened to expose government corruption, and was later found with a bullet in his head, his body severely burned. Pro-democracy demonstrations in the early 1990s were put down by paramilitary troops, and leaders of the opposition were thrown in jail. Western nations responded by demanding that Kenya hold multi-party elections if they wanted to continue to receive foreign aid, and in December 1992 Moi won reelection, despite widespread complaints of bribery and ballot tampering. During this time, the economy floundered: inflation skyrocketed, the Kenyan currency was devalued by 50 percent, and unemployment rose.

In 1995, the various opposition groups united in an attempt to wrest the presidency from Moi and formed a political party called Safina. Opposition efforts have been unsuccessful so far, however. In July 1997, demonstrators demanding constitutional reforms were teargassed, shot, and beaten, resulting in eleven deaths.

Despite Moi's unpopularity and his advanced age (he was born in 1924), he maintains his grip on the presidency. Kenya continues to suffer from tribalism and corruption, as well as high population growth, unemployment, political instability, and the AIDS epidemic.

National Identity. Kenyans tend to identify primarily with their tribe or ethnic group, and only secondarily with the nation as a whole. The Kikuyu, who were better represented in the independence movement than other groups, and who continue to dominate the government, are more likely to identify themselves as Kenyans.

Ethnic Relations. The Kikuyu are the largest tribe in the highlands, and tend to dominate the nation's politics. Over the centuries, they consolidated their power by trading portions of their harvests to the hunter-gatherers for land, as well as through inter-marriage. This gradual rise to domination was peaceful and involved a mingling of different ethnic groups. While the Kikuyu have enjoyed the most power in the postindependence government, they were also the hardesthit by brutal British policies during the colonial period. The Kikuyu traditionally had an antagonistic relationship with the Maasai, and the two groups often raided each other's villages and cattle herds. At the same time, there was a good deal of intermarriage and cultural borrowing between the two groups. Relations among various other ethnic groups are also fraught with tension, and this has been a major obstacle in creating a united Kenya. These conflicts are partly a legacy of colonial rule: the British exaggerated ethnic tensions and played one group against another to reinforce their own power. Under British rule, different ethnic groups were confined to specific geographic areas. Ethnic tensions continue to this day, and have been the cause of violence. In the early 1990s tribal clashes killed thousands of people and left tens of thousands homeless. Conflicts flared again in the late 1990s between the Pokots and the Marakwets, the Turkanas and the Samburus, and the Maasai and the Kisii.

Kenya has a fairly large Indian population, mostly those who came to East Africa in the early twentieth century to work on the railroad. Many Indians later became merchants and storeowners. During colonial times, they occupied a racial netherland: they were treated poorly by the British (although not as poorly as blacks), and resented by the Africans. Even after independence, this resentment continued and half of the Indian population left the country.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

About 70 percent of the population is rural, although this percentage has been decreasing as more Kenyans migrate to the cities in search of work. Most of those who live in urban areas live in either Nairobi or Mombasa. Nairobi was founded at the beginning of the twentieth century as a stop on the East African Railway and its population is growing rapidly. Nairobi is a modern city with a diverse, international population and a busy, fast-paced lifestyle. The city is in close proximity to Nairobi National Park, a forty-four square mile preserve inhabited by wild animals such as giraffes and leopards. Around the perimeter of the city, shantytowns of makeshift houses have sprung up as the population has increased, and the shortage of adequate housing is a major problem in urban areas.

Mombasa is the second-largest city; located on the southern coast, it is the country's main port. Its history dates back to the first Arab settlers, and Mombasa is still home to a large Muslim population. Fort Jesus, located in the old part of the city, dates to the Portuguese settlement of the area in 1593, and today houses a museum. Kisumu, on Lake Victoria, is the third-largest city and is also an important port. Two smaller cities of importance are Nakuru in the Eastern Rift Valley and Eldoret in western Kenya.

In the cities, most people live in modern apartment buildings. In the countryside, typical housing styles vary from tribe to tribe. Zaramo houses are made of grass and rectangular in shape; rundi houses are beehive-like constructions of reed and bark; chagga houses are made from sticks; and nyamwezi are round huts with thatched roofs. Some rural people have adapted their houses to modern building materials, using bricks or cement blocks and corrugated iron or tin for roofs.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Corn (or maize) is the staple food of Kenyans. It is ground into flour and prepared as a porridge called posho, which is sometimes mixed with mashed beans, potatoes, and vegetables, to make a dish called irio. Another popular meal is a beef stew called ugali. This is eaten from a big pot, and each diner takes a piece of ugali, which he or she uses as a spoon to pick up beans and other vegetables. Boiled greens, called mboga, are a common side dish. Banana porridge, called matoke, is another common dish. Meat is expensive, and is rarely eaten. Herders depend on milk as their primary food, and fish is popular on the coast and around Lake Victoria. Mombasa is known for its Indian foods brought by the numerous immigrants from the subcontinent, including curries, samosas, and chapatti, a fried bread. Snacks include corn on the cob, mandazi (fried dough), potato chips, and peanuts.

Tea mixed with milk and sugar is a common drink. Palm wine is another popular libation, especially in Mombasa. Beer is ubiquitous, most of it produced locally by the Kenyan Breweries. One special type of brew, made with honey, is called uki.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. For special occasions, it is customary to kill and roast a goat. Other meats, including sheep and cow, are also served at celebrations. The special dish is called nyama choma, which translates as "burnt meat."

Basic Economy. Kenya's economy has suffered from inefficiency and government corruption. The tourist industry has also been harmed by political violence in the late 1990s. Seventy-five to 80 percent of the workforce is in agriculture. Most of these workers are subsistence farmers, whose main crops are corn, millet, sweet potatoes, and such fruits as bananas, oranges, and mangoes. The main cash crops are tea and coffee, which are grown on large plantations. The international market for these products tends to fluctuate widely from year to year, contributing to Kenya's economic instability.

Many Kenyans work in what is called the jua kali sector, doing day labor in such fields as mechanics, small crafts, and construction. Others are employed in industry, services, and government, but the country has an extremely high unemployment rate, estimated at 50 percent.

Land Tenure and Property. During colonial rule, Kenyan farmers who worked the British plantations were forced to cultivate the least productive lands for their own subsistence. After independence, many of the large colonial land holdings were divided among Kenyans into small farms known as shambas. The government continues to control a large part of the economy, although in the late 1990s it began selling off many state farms to private owners and corporations.

Commercial Activities. The main goods produced for sale are agricultural products such as corn, sweet potatoes, bananas, and citrus fruit. These are sold in small local markets, as well as in larger markets in the cities, alongside other commercial goods and handicrafts. Bargaining is an expected, and at times lengthy, process in financial interactions.

Major Industries. The main industries are the small-scale production of consumer goods, such as plastic, furniture, and textiles; food processing; oil refining; and cement. Tourism is also important to Kenya's economy, due mainly to game reserves and resorts along the coast, but the industry has been hurt by recent political instability.

Trade. The primary imports are machinery and transportation equipment, petroleum products, iron, and steel. These come from the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Japan, and Germany. Kenya exports tea, coffee, horticultural products, and petroleum products to Uganda, the United Kingdom, Tanzania, Egypt, and Germany.

Division of Labor. Kikuyu are the best represented ethnic group in jobs of the highest status, followed by the Luo. Members of these two groups hold most of the highest positions in government, business, and education. Many Luo are fishermen and boat-builders; those who have moved to the cities often take up work as mechanics and craftsmen, and dominate Kenyan trade unions. A number of Maasai and Samburu have taken jobs as park rangers and safari guides. Along the coast, most merchants and storekeepers are of Indian or Arab descent. In farming communities, work is divided among people of all different ages; children begin helping at a very young age, and the elderly continue to work as long as they are physically able.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. There is a great deal of poverty in Kenya. Most of the wealthiest people are Kikuyu, followed by the Luo. Kenyans of higher economic and social class tend to have assimilated more Western culture than those of the lower classes.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Among herders such as the Masai, wealth is measured in the number of cattle one owns. Having many children is also a sign of wealth. In urban areas, most people dress in Western-style clothing. While western clothing does not necessarily indicate high status, expensive brand-name clothing does. Many women wear a colorful kanga, a large piece of cloth that can be wrapped around the body as a skirt or shawl and head scarves are also common. Some ethnic groups, such as the Kikuyu and the Luo, have adopted Western culture more readily than others, who prefer to retain their distinctive styles of dress and ornamentation. Women of the northern nomadic tribes, for example, wear gorfa, a sheepskin or goatskin dyed red or black and wrapped around the body, held in place with a leather cord and a rope belt.

Among some ethnic groups, such as the Rendille, a woman's hairstyle indicates her marital status and whether or not she has children. A man's stage of life is revealed by specific headdresses or jewelry. The Pokot and Maasai wear rows of beaded necklaces, as do the Turkana women, who wear so many strands that it elongates their necks. The above practices are indicators of marital and social standings within Kenyan society.

Political Life

Government. Kenya is divided into seven provinces and one area. The president is both chief of state and head of the government. He is chosen from among the members of the National Assembly, and is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. The president appoints both a vice-president and a cabinet. The legislature is the unicameral National Assembly, or Bunge. It consists of 222 members, twelve appointed by the president and the rest elected by popular vote.

Leadership and Political Officials. According to Kenya's constitution, multiple parties are allowed, but in fact it is President Moi's Kenya African National Union (KANU) that controls the government. The main opposition groups (which have little clout) are the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy-Kenya (FORDKenya), the National Development Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party.

Social Problems and Control. Crime (mostly petty crime) and drug use are rampant in the cities. Kenya has a common law system similar to that of Britain. There are also systems of tribal law and Islamic law, used to settle personal disputes within an ethnic group or between two Muslims. Citizens are not granted free legal aid except in capital cases, and as a result many poor Kenyans are jailed simply for lack of a legal defense. Kenya has a spotty record in the area of human rights, and does not allow independent monitoring of its prison system.

Military Activity. Kenya's military includes an army, navy, air force, and the paramilitary General Service Unit of the Police, which has been used to put down civilian rebellions and protests. The country's military expenditures total 2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Serving in the military is voluntary.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Most social welfare is provided by the family rather than the government. There are government-run hospitals and health clinics, as well as adult literacy programs.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

There are a number of international organizations that work in Kenya to provide humanitarian aid and to help with the state of the economy and health care. These include the World Health Organization, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and others. There are also a number of human rights organizations, including the Kenya Antirape Organization, the Legal Advice Center, and the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission. Kenya is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Organization of African Unity.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Among herders, men are responsible for the care of the animals. In agricultural communities, both men and women work in the fields but it is estimated that women do up to 80 percent of the work in rural areas: in addition to work in the fields, they take care of the children, cook, keep a vegetable garden, and fetch water and are also responsible for taking food to market to sell. It is common for men to leave their rural communities and move to the city in search of paying jobs. While this sometimes brings more income to the family, it also increases the women's workload. In urban areas women are more likely to take jobs outside the home; in fact, 40 percent of the urban work force is female. For the most part, women are still confined to lower-paying and lower status jobs such as food service or secretarial work, but the city of Kisumu has elected a woman mayor, and there are several women in Parliament.

The Relative Status of Men and Women. For the most part, women are treated as second-class citizens in Kenya. Despite the disproportionate amount of work that women do, men usually control the money and property in a family. Wife beating is common, and women have little legal recourse. Another women's issue is clitoridectomy, or female genital mutilation, which leaves many women in continual pain and vulnerable to infection. As women gain access to education, their status in society is increasing. Women's groups such as the National Women's Council of Kenya have been instrumental in pushing for just laws and in teaching women skills that allow them to earn a living.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Polygamy is traditional, and in the past it was not uncommon for men to have five or six wives. The practice is becoming less typical today as it has been opposed by Christian missionaries, and is increasingly impractical as few men can afford to support multiple partners. When a man chooses a potential wife, he negotiates a bride price of money or cattle with the woman's father. The price is generally higher for a first wife than for subsequent ones. The wedding ceremony and feast are celebrated in the husband's home.

Domestic Unit. In the traditional living arrangement, a man builds a separate hut for each of his wives, where she will live with her children, and a hut for himself. In a family with one wife, the parents often live together with girls and younger boys, while the older boys have smaller houses close by. It is common for several generations to live together under the same roof. According to tradition, it is the responsibility of the youngest son to care for his aging parents. Among the Maasai, houses are divided into four sections: one section for the women, one section for the children, one section for the husband, and one section for cooking and eating.

Inheritance. According to the tradition, inheritance passes from father to son. This is still the case today, and there are legal as well as cultural obstacles to women inheriting property.

Kin Groups. Extended families are considered a single unit; children are often equally close to cousins and siblings, and aunts and uncles are thought of as fathers and mothers. These large family groups often live together in small settlements. Among the Maasai, for example, ten or twelve huts are built in a circle surrounded by a thornbush fence. This is known as a kraal.


Infant Care. Mothers usually tie their babies to their backs with a cloth sling. Girls begin caring for younger siblings at a very early age, and it is not uncommon to see a five- or six-year-old girl caring for a baby.

Child Rearing and Education. Child rearing is communal: responsibility for the children is shared among aunts, uncles, grandparents, and other members of the community. Boys and girls have fairly separate upbringings. Each is taught the duties and obligations specific to their sex: girls learn early how to carry water, cook, and care for children, while boys are schooled in the ways of herding or working in the fields. Children are also grouped into "age sets" with peers born in the same year. Members of a given age set form a special bond, and undergo initiation rituals as a group.

Primary school, which children attend from the age of seven to the age of fourteen, is free. Secondary school for students ages fourteen to eighteen is prohibitively expensive for most of the population. Only half of all children complete the first seven years of schooling, and only one-seventh of these continue on to high school. After each of the two levels, there is a series of national exams which students must pass in order to continue in their studies.

Kenya's education system has been plagued with widespread accusations of cheating, and there is a shortage of qualified teachers to educate the burgeoning population of school-age children. In addition to government-run schools, churches and civic groups have established self-help or harambee schools, with the help of volunteers from the United States and Europe. These schools now outnumber government-run secondary schools.

Higher Education. There are eight universities in Kenya. The largest of these is the University of Nairobi, the Kenyatta University College is also located in the capital. In addition to universities, Kenya has several technical institutes which train students in agriculture, teaching, and other professions. Those who can afford it often send their children abroad for post-secondary education.


Kenyans are generally friendly and hospitable. Greetings are an important social interaction, and often include inquiries about health and family members. Visitors to a home are usually offered food or tea, and it is considered impolite to decline. Elderly people are treated with a great deal of respect and deference.


Religious Beliefs. The population is 38 percent Protestant and 28 percent Roman Catholic. Twenty-six percent are animist, 7 percent are Muslim, and 1 percent follow other religions. Many people incorporate traditional beliefs into their practice of Christianity, causing some tension between Kenyans and Christian churches, particularly on the issue of polygamy. Religious practices of different ethnic groups vary, but one common element is the belief in a spirit world inhabited by the souls of ancestors. The Kikuyu and several other groups worship the god Ngai, who is said to live on top of Mount Kenya.

Religious Practitioners. In traditional religions, diviners are believed to have the power to communicate with the spirit world, and they use their powers to cure people of diseases or evil spirits. Diviners are also called upon to help bring rain during times of drought. Sorcerers and witches are also believed to have supernatural powers, but unlike the diviners they use these powers to cause harm. It is the job of the diviners to counter their evil workings.

Rituals and Holy Places. Among the Masai, the beginning of the rainy season is observed with a celebration which lasts for several days and includes singing, dancing, eating, and praying for the health of their animals. For the ritual dances, the performers die their hair red, paint black stripes on their bodies, and don ostrich-feather headdresses. The Kikuyu mark the start of the planting season with their own festivities. Their ceremonial dances are often performed by warriors wearing leopard or zebra skin robes and carrying spears and shields. The dancers dye their bodies blue, and paint them in white patterns.

Initiation ceremonies are important rites of passage, and they vary from tribe to tribe. Boys and girls undergo separate rituals, after which they are considered of marriageable age. Kikuyu boys, for example, are initiated at the age of eighteen. Their ears are pierced, their heads shaved, and their faces marked with white earth. Pokot girls are initiated at twelve years old, in a ceremony that involves singing, dancing, and decorating their bodies with ocher, red clay, and animal fat.

Weddings are important occasions throughout the country, and are celebrated with up to eight days of music, dance, and special foods.

Death and the Afterlife. At death, Kenyans believe that one enters the spirit world, which has great influence in the world of the living. Many Kenyans believe in reincarnation, and children are thought to be the embodiment of the souls of a family's ancestors.

Medicine and Health Care

The health care system in Kenya is understaffed and poorly supplied. The government runs clinics throughout the country that focus primarily on preventive medicine. These clinics have had some success in reducing the rate of sleeping sickness and malaria through the use of vaccines, but the country is still plagued with high rates of gastroenteritis, dysentery, diarrhea, sexually transmitted diseases, and trachoma. Access to modern health care is rare, particularly in rural areas, and many people still depend on traditional cures including herbal medicines and healing rituals.

Kenya has one of the world's highest birth rates, and birth control programs have been largely ineffective. The life expectancy, while higher than in some other African nations, is still only fifty-four years. AIDS has been devastating to the country, and at least five hundred Kenyans die of the disease each day. President Moi has declared the AIDS epidemic a national disaster, but has nonetheless refused to encourage condom use.

Secular Celebrations

New Year's Day is celebrated on 1 January, and Labor Day, 1 May. Other holidays include Madaraka Day anniversary of self-rule, 1 June; Moi Day commemorating the president's installation in office, on 10 October; Independence Day also called Jamhuri Day, on 12 December; Kenyatta Day, celebrating Jomo Kenyatta as the national hero, on 20 October. Also called Harambee Day, this festival includes a large parade in the capital and celebrations throughout the country.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. The National Gallery in Nairobi has a special gallery and studio space set aside for emerging artists. The University of Nairobi also supports a national traveling theater company.

Literature. Kenya has a strong oral tradition. Many folktales concern animals or the intervention of the spirits in everyday life; others are war stories detailing soldiers' bravery. The stories are passed from generation to generation, often in the form of songs. Contemporary Kenyan literature draws extensively from this oral heritage, as well as from Western literary tradition. Ngugi wa Thiong'o, a Kikuyu, is Kenya's most prominent writer. His first novels, including Weep Not, Child (1964) and Petals of Blood (1977) were written in English. Though they were strong messages of social protest, it was not until he began to write exclusively in Swahili and Kikuyu that Ngugi became the victim of censorship. He was jailed for one year, and later exiled to England. Other contemporary Kenyan writers, such as Sam Kahiga, Meja Mwangi and Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye, are less explicitly political in their work.

Graphic Arts. Kenya is known for its sculpture and wood-carving, which often has religious significance. Figures of ancestors are believed to appease the inhabitants of the spirit world, as are the elaborately carved amulets that Kenyans wear around their necks. In addition to wood, sculptors also work in ivory and gold. Contemporary sculptors often blend traditional styles with more modern ones.

Artists also create the colorful masks and headdresses that are worn during traditional dances, often fashioned to represent birds or other animals. Jewelry is another Kenyan art form, and includes elaborate silver and gold bracelets and various forms of colorful beadwork.

In some tribes, including the Kikuyu and the Luhya, women make pottery and elaborately decorated baskets.

Performance Arts. Dancing is an important part of Kenyan culture. Men and women usually dance separately. Men perform line dances, some of which involve competing to see who can jump the highest. Dance is often an element of religious ceremonies, such as marriage, child naming, and initiation. Costume is an important element of many traditional dances, as are props: dancers often don masks and carry shields, swords, and other objects.

The music of Kenya is polyrhythmic, incorporating several different beats simultaneously. The primary instruments are drums but lutes, woodwinds, and thumb pianos are also used. Singing often follows a call-and-response pattern, and singers chant rhythms that diverge from those played on the instruments. Kikuyu music is relatively simple; the main instrument is the gicandi, a rattle made from a gourd. Other groups, such as the Luhya, have more complex music and dance traditions, incorporating a variety of instruments.

In the cities, benga, a fusion of Western and Kenyan music, is popular. Benga was originated by the Luo in the 1950s, and incorporates two traditional instruments, the nyatiti, a small stringed instrument, and the orutu, a one-string fiddle, as well as the electric guitar. Taarab music, which is popular along the coast, shows both Arabic and Indian influence. It is sung by women, with drums, acoustic guitar, a small organ, and sometimes a string section accompanying the singers.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Kenya has few facilities for the study of physical sciences. The National Museum in Nairobi has collections of historical and cultural artifacts and the museum at Fort Jesus in Mombasa is dedicated to archeology and history.

Much of what scientific activity there is in Kenya revolves around conservation. There are a number of National Parks where the animals are protected, and scientists come from around the world to study the nation's rich and diverse wildlife.


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Eleanor Stanford

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LUO 81

The people of Kenya are called Kenyans. The estimated proportions of the main tribal groups are Gikuyu (Kikuyu), 21 percent; Luhya, 14 percent; Luo, 13 percent; Kalenjin, 11 percent; and Gusii (Kisii), 6 percent. Another important group living in Kenya are the Maasai. To learn more about the Maasai see the chapter on Tanzania in Volume 9.

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Kenya •Antakya •Britannia, lasagne •Katya • Vanya •Kenya, Mantegna, Sardegna, tenure •failure • Montagna •behaviour (US behavior), misbehaviour (US misbehavior), saviour (US savior) •seguidilla, tortilla •Monsignor •Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia •Tigrinya • De Falla • Vaisya •Lockyer • Bologna • sawyer • bowyer •alleluia, hallelujah •La Coruña •bunya, gunyah

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