In this African lifestyle narrative, KENYA is our focus – a country named after a natural landmark. From its beautiful landscapes to its vast wildlife preserves, as well as some of the finest beaches in Africa, Kenya is a tourist attraction. Welcome to the land of the Harambee!
Kenya is a country in East Africa named after Mount Kenya. Its Indian Ocean coast provided historically important ports by which goods from Arabian and Asian traders have entered the continent for many centuries. Along that coast, which holds some of the finest beaches in Africa, are predominantly Muslim Swahili cities such as Mombasa. This is a historic centre that has contributed much to the musical and culinary heritage of the country.
Inland are populous highlands famed for both their tea plantations and their variety of animal species. Animals like lions, elephants, cheetahs, rhinoceroses, and hippopotamuses are well populated in this country.
To the west, Kenya is marked by lakes and rivers, are forested, while a small portion of the north is desert and semidesert. The country’s diverse wildlife and panoramic geography draw large numbers of European and North American visitors, and tourism is an important contributor to Kenya’s economy.
The Kenyan coast had served host to communities of ironworkers and Bantu subsistence farmers, hunters, and fishers. These communities supported the economy with agriculture, fishing, metal production, and trade with foreign countries. These communities formed the earliest city-states in the region, which were collectively known as Azania.
Kenya is a multilingual country. Although the official languages are Swahili and English, there are actually a total of 62 languages spoken in the country. These mainly consist of tribal African languages as well as a minority of Middle-Eastern and Asian languages spoken by descendants of foreign settlers. The African languages come from three different language families – Bantu languages (spoken in the center and southeast), Nilotic languages (in the west), and Cushitic languages (in the northeast).
Kenya was a colony of the United Kingdom from 1920 until 1963. The earliest recorded version of the modern name was written by German explorer Johann Ludwig Krapf in the 19th century. While traveling with a Kamba caravan, Krapf spotted the mountain peak and asked what it was called. The legendary long-distance trader Chief Kivoi told him “Kĩ-Nyaa” or “Kĩĩma- Kĩĩnyaa“. The Agikuyu tribe, who inhabit the slopes of Mt. Kenya, call it Kĩrĩma Kĩrĩnyaga in Kikuyu, while the Embu people call it “Kirenyaa“. All three names have the same meaning.
The first inhabitants of present-day Kenya were hunter-gatherer groups, comparable to the modern Khoisan speakers. These people were later largely replaced by agropastoralist Cushitic (ancestral to Kenya’s Cushitic speakers) from the Horn of Africa. Around 500 BC, Nilotic-speaking pastoralists started migrating from present-day southern Sudan into Kenya. Nilotic tribes in Kenya today include the Kalenjin, Samburu, Luo, Turkana, and Maasai.
Lifestyle and Culture
The culture of Kenya consists of multiple trends. Kenya has no single prominent culture that identifies it. It instead consists of various cultures practiced by the country’s different communities. With a long history of musical and artistic expression, Kenya enjoys a rich tradition of oral and written literature. These include many fables that speak to the virtues of determination and perseverance, important and widely shared values.
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Kenyans are group-orientated rather than individualistic. “Harambee,” (coming from the Bantu word meaning “to pull together”) defines the people’s approach to others in life. The concept is essentially about mutual assistance, mutual effort, mutual responsibility and community self-reliance. This principle has historically been practiced by every ethnic group with its roots in cooperative farming or herding.
There is no singular dish that represents all of Kenya’s wide cuisine. Different communities have their own native foods. Staples are maize and other cereals depending on the region, including millet and sorghum eaten with various meats and vegetables. The foods that are universally eaten in Kenya are ugali, sukuma wiki, and nyama choma. Kenya’s coastal cuisine is unique and highly regarded throughout the country.
Kenya does not have national dress that transcends its diverse ethnic divisions. With more than 42 ethnic communities having their own traditional practices and symbols unique to them, this is a task that has proved elusive.
According to Wikipedia, Kitenge is a cotton fabric made into colours and design through tie-and-dye and heavy embroidery. It is commonly worn by a number of Kenya’s populations. Kitenge is yet to be accepted in Kenya as an official dress as it is only worn during ceremonies and non-official functions. The Maasai wear dark red garments to symbolise their love for the earth and their dependence on it. It also stands for courage and blood that is given to them by nature. The Kanga is in common use in practically every Kenyan home, and is largely worn by women around the waist and torso.
From this African lifestyle narrative, KENYA is indeed a beautiful land!
Tourist Attractions in Kenya
Mount Kenya – Located in central Kenya, about one hundred and fifty kilometers away from Nairobi City. The site registers over ten thousand tourists annually. The mountain is highly protected to favor biodiversity and the tourism industry.
The scene offers overwhelming beauty with the highest peak, Batian, about 5,199 meters high. Apart from the daring landscape and volcanic experiences, Mount Kenya harbors a rich habitat comprising of animals such as buffalos, rhinos, elephants, and Zebra among other exotic species.
Lake Victoria – this lake lies at the verge of the Kenyan, Ugandan, and Tanzanian borders. The Rift Valley lake holds legacy as the largest tropical lake in the world feeding the Nile, globally recognized for its length, with sufficient waters. The great lake named after Queen Victoria has an impressive view giving its visitors a feel of nature Kenya.
The vast waters offer a meditative feeling accompanied by biodiversity. The lake is a natural habitat for most plants, birds, and animal species. The lake houses hundreds of fish species some of which are economically essential to the local community living across the waters.
Maasai Mara – has plentiful wildlife which moves freely to and from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. While on tour, you will have an excellent chance to explore nature in the savannah habitat. The safari guarantees an elephant view at waterholes, freely roaming giraffes, standing rhinos, crocodile, and hippos in water bodies, feeding hyenas, and restful lions. A herd of other wildlife including zebras, wildebeest, and antelopes arrive in the park from Tanzania’s dry grassland every year.
From this African lifestyle narrative, KENYA is indeed a beautiful land! Don’t you agree?
Some Kenyan Festivals
Rusinga Island Festival – a 2-day festival designed to showcase the Suba culture and takes place every last Thursday and Friday before each Christmas. Not only do you get to go to an island in Lake Victoria but you also get to enjoy excellent music (both traditional and contemporary), cultural sporting exhibitions such as wrestling and sample some of the most sumptuous local cuisines while you are there.
Shela Hat Contest – is a contest to showcase the different forms of creativity from the locals who have to cope with an ever-present sun. While that might only sound like a good thing for those of us who come from colder parts of the country, for the people of Shela and Lamu in general, it is somewhat a threat to their livelihoods. That is why they came up with the “Shela Hat Contest”; to showcase all the crazy artsy lengths the locals have gone to shield themselves from that sun.
Lamu Yoga Festival – is a 4-day festival for those who like inner peace and a little sunshine on the beach. The festival is designed to bring more than 26 Yoga professionals to the island. During the festival, attendees will be able to attend over 150 Yoga classes and enjoy other activities such as Swahili cuisine, Dhow sailing and Interaction with international Yoga professionals.
PAWA Festival – is a festival where an assortment of artists including dancers, musicians, actors and stylists cordon off one street in Nairobi’s CBD and showcase their talents to an awe-struck audience made of anyone who wants to attend. It is a way to bring art and cultural awareness to those who do not go to galleries, theatres and the likes.
From this African lifestyle narrative, KENYA is a land of natural beauty. Wherever to go to in this vast country, you are sure to be treated to delightful times!