Contributions by Rose.
Facts you may not have know about Kenya:
Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in east Africa. Its capital and largest city is Nairobi. Kenya has a population of approximately 49 million, and gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1963, after which it became a republic in 1964.
Kenya is the biggest and most advanced economy in east and central Africa, and is often classified as a frontier market. The economy has seen much expansion, seen by strong performance in tourism, higher education, and telecommunications.
Today, Kenya’s services sector, which contributes 61% of GDP, is dominated by tourism. The tourism sector has exhibited steady growth in most years since independence and by the late 1980s had become the country’s principal source of foreign exchange. Tourists, the largest number being from Germany and the United Kingdom, are attracted mainly to the coastal beaches and the game reserves, notably, the expansive East and Tsavo West National Park 20,808 square kilometres (8,034 sq mi) in the southeast.
1. When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?
When meeting someone, a common greeting is a handshake. Alternatively, those who know one another well may choose to hug.
2. What languages are spoken in your country?
English and Kiswahili are the official languages. Many Kenyans speak three languages – the aforementioned two, plus their mother tongue. There are a total of 69 languages spoken in Kenya.
3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?
We use a 12-hour clock.
4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in Kenya?
We drive on the left side of the road. While drivers tend to oblige by the rules, public transit, such as buses and taxis, will refuse to give way to others on the road. Kenya’s railway system links the nation’s ports and major cities, connecting it with neighboring Uganda.
5. How important is punctuality?
Punctuality is not of utmost importance in Kenya, with many people often running late and blaming traffic.
6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of your most popular musicians?
Kenya has no single prominent culture that identifies it. It instead consists of the various cultures of the country’s different communities.
Kenya is home to a diverse range of music styles, ranging from imported popular music, afro-fusion and benga music to traditional folk songs. The guitar is the most popular instrument in Kenyan music, and songs often feature intricate guitar rhythms. Popular musicians/music groups include Sauti Sol, Willy Paul, Size 8, and Nameless.
For a taste of Kenyan music, listen to Sauti Sol’s Melanin and Nameless’ Inspire.
7. Are there any Traditional Dances?
Yes, there are numerous. The Maasai community in Kenya celebrates several unique traditional ceremonies, one of which is the Eunoto. The ceremony is performed by members of the same age group 10 years after they are initiated in to adulthood. The ceremony is marked by a unique Maasai traditional dance called “Adumu.”
Mwomboko dance is one of the most common traditional dances among the Agikuyu people, the largest ethnic group in Kenya. The dance is usually performed during historic events, such as Madaraka Day, which commemorates the day Kenya gained internal self-rule from the British colonizers.
Isikuti is a popular traditional dance practiced by the Isukha and Idakho clans of the larger Luhya community. It’s a fast-paced and energetic dance, involving both men and women. The dance is characterized by the vigorous shaking of the shoulders and waist and rhythmic stamping of the feet.
For an example of Kenyan dancing, click here.
8. What traditional Festivals are celebrated in your community?
Every year Lamu comes to life during the Lamu Cultural Festival, as Kenyans come together to celebrate both the past, future, the beliefs and traditions that are the heart and soul of this community in the lovely enchanting island of Lamu. An ancient Swahili township, Lamu is a World Heritage site and the cultural festival offers an insight of how life in the old days was in terms of architecture and lifestyle.
The event is usually held annually in November, with exciting activities such as traditional Swahili poetry, henna painting, donkey races and dhow sailing, culminating with a traditional Swahili wedding and a chance to enjoy various Swahili dishes.
The Lake Turkana Festival is usually held around May, and features unique performances and demonstrations of ten different ethnic communities which live in the Lake Turkana region. With traditional dances and a chance to taste various foods from these communities as well as being able to visit their unique huts and get a taste to experience life in Loiyangani in Northern Kenya.
The presentation of the customs and living conditions of the ten tribes, their spectacular traditional costumes arts and crafts, dances and music is a fascinating experience that leaves one with a positive perception of the Lake Turkana region.
9. What are your seasons like?
Kenya’s climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland to arid in the north and northeast parts of the country. The area receives a great deal of sunshine every month, and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. It is usually cool at night and early in the morning inland at higher elevations.
The “long rains” season occurs from March/April to May/June. The “short rains” season occurs from October to November/December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The temperature remains high throughout these months of tropical rain. The hottest period is February and March, leading into the season of the long rains, and the coldest is in July, until mid August.
10. Tell us an interesting fact about your President?
President Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of Kenya’s first President, Jomo Kenyatta, and his fourth wife Mama Ngina Kenyatta. His given name “Uhuru” is from the Swahili term for “freedom”, and was given to him in anticipation of Kenya’s upcoming independence.
11. What are the country’s major industries?
Major industries in Kenya include the service industry, dominated by tourism, as well as agriculture. The principal cash crops are tea, horticultural produce, and coffee.
12. How do people spend their free time?
Many Kenyans enjoy spending time with their family. Kenya is active in several sports, among them cricket, rallying, football, rugby union and boxing. The country is known chiefly for its dominance in middle-distance and long-distance athletics. Many may choose to spectate during events. Kenya is also home to a wide variety of food outlets to spend time in.
13. What do people drink?
Tea and beer are popular among Kenyans.
14. What is a popular local dish?
Nyama Choma (grilled meat) is a favourite way of preparing and eating meat in Kenya, especially when celebrating events. Chicken, beef, and goat are commonly used. Ugali (maize meal) is a basic staple – a type of porridge, often served with salad.
15. What do you pay for? (1 USD = approx. Ksh 101)
- Milk: sold in packets, between Ksh 50 and 60
- Coca cola: between Ksh 35 and 100, depending on location
- Cup of coffee: between Ksh 100 and 250, depending on location
- 2 Course meal: about Ksh 1800 t0 2500
- Glass of wine: between Ksh 250 and 450
- Loaf of bread: between Ksh 50 and 100
16. General Safety?
- Don’t use your phone in traffic with your windows open.
- Don’t leave valuables on display in your car.
- Take care walking around after dark.
17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from Kenya include:
- Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, is identified as one of the leading forces behind the democratization process of Kenya, particularly during the repressive regime of President Daniel arap Moi.
- Former Prime Minister and former President Jomo Kenyatta, who was the country’s first black head of government and played a significant role in the transformation of Kenya from a colony of the British Empire into an independent republic.
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