10 Interesting Facts About Kenya
Kenya (officially the Republic of Kenya) is named after Mt. Kenya. It has been said that the name Mt. Kenya, which translates in Kikuyu (one of the Kenyan tribes) to “Kirinyaga” is the source of the country’s name. Mt. Kenya is the tallest mountain in the country, and the second tallest in Africa after Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Kenya is one of the countries in Eastern Africa, bordering Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. It has 47 counties all governed by elected governors, and Nairobi is its capital city.
Let’s look at some of the facts that make this country really interesting.
We have a full article about some key things to know about the history of Kenya. In brief though, it would be interesting to note that Kenya was for a very long time, a British colony. From the late 1890’s to 1963 when she got her independence, Kenyans were a part of the British Empire in Africa. And this has influenced a lot of the way Kenyans conduct their everyday activities.
Kenyan wildlife is an unmissable tourist attraction for anyone visiting the Country. To start with, a safari in any of the National Parks will give you the opportunity to see the “big five” – the Lion, the Leopard, the Rhino, the Elephant, and the Buffalo, among other animals.
Tourists come from far and wide just to see and observe these animals, and some of these animals, like the ones at the David Sheldrick Trust in Nairobi can be adopted!
When it comes to sports, Kenya is mostly known worldwide because of its athletes. But did you know that the most popular sport in the country is actually football? Kenyans love their football! In fact, you will almost always find football on the TV screens of many nightclubs in Nairobi. Some Kenyan football players also play for international teams.
In athletics, it would be important to note that most of the most famous long distance runners in the world have come from Kenya. Many have broken world records and made a name for themselves.
Rugby players from Kenya are also very popular in the world. “Rudge” as popularly referred to by Kenyans has seen its countrymen beat international teams at Safari Sevens and other tournaments.
Other popular sports in the country includes boxing and swimming.
Traditional Kenyan foods are to die for! The most popular is “Ugali” and “Nyama Choma”. Ugali is a meal made from mixing maize flour or sorghum flour with hot water to make a hard paste. Roast some nice “Mbuzi” (goat meat) or “Ng’ombe” (cow meat), then serve with some nice “Kachumbari” (mixture of chopped onions, tomatoes, and pepper), and you instantly feel like a Kenyan. Even the former US President Barack Obama had to sample this very popular dish when he visited the Country!
Other famous foods include “mukimo”, “githeri” and “samaki”.
Kenya has 42 ethnic tribes. This means that the country has 42 groups of people speaking different languages, and that is without adding Swahili and English, the country’s national languages. Imagine that!
According to the country’s government statistics, the main groups are the “Kikuyus” – 22%, the “Luhyas” – 14%, the “Luo” – 13%, the “Kalenjin” – 12%, the “Kamba” – 11%, and then the others.
For most tourists though, the “Maasai” are probably the most popular. The “Maasai” are famous for their rich culture and general native style of living, maybe the reason why they attract so much attention.
Kenyan beaches are one of the unmissable tourist attractions when visiting the Country. With a 536 kilometres of coastline that meets the Indian Ocean, it’s no wonder that tourists flock the Kenyan coast every year and some even choose to stay!
The Kenyan coast has some fine, white and extraordinary beaches with big hotels at affordable rates for accommodation. It’s also important to note that the beaches are free of Sharks, and are protected by coral reef. Some of these beaches include Diani, Watamu, and Malindi.
The official currency in Kenya is the Kenya Shilling. The currency code for the Kenya shilling is KES, and the symbol is Kshs, made up of cents. The notes in circulation include the 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, and 20 shillings notes, and 40, 20,10,5, and 1 shillings coins.
As of 30th September 2019, the Central Bank of Kenya issued new generation bank notes for the 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, and 20 shillings notes, with the old 1000 shilling notes being phased out completely. The rest of the notes will be phased out in time.
Religion in Kenya
One of the constitutional rights of Kenyans is religion. As such, there are many Kenyans who follow different religions. The country is predominantly Christian (about 70%). Other groups include the Muslims, Hindus, Baha’is, Parsees, and Sikhs.
The Kenyan National Anthem is itself a prayer for the Nation that was adapted from one of her tribes, the Pokomo.
Languages in Kenya
English and Swahili are the official languages in Kenya. They are the languages used in schools, offices, hospitals, etc. However, Kenyans on the streets have additional languages which are not languages from the many tribes mentioned above. These are “Sheng” and “Slang”. They are mainly spoken by the youth who form a big part of the Country’s population. Other “official” languages like French, German, Spanish, Chinese, etc. are taught in Schools all over the country.
Kenya has many “firsts”, which may explain why it is one of the most popular country in Africa.
The former US President (Barack Obama)’s father was born in Kenya.
The first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Wangari Mathai, was born in Kenya.
The first, and so far only person in the world to ever run under 1:41 in the 800 meters run, David Lekuta Rudisha, is a Kenyan.
Following him closely is Eliud Kipchoge, another famous Kenyan long distance runner who is the first and only man to break the 2 hour barrier in the marathon with a record time of 1:59:40.
There are also many other athletes but we cannot list all of them here.
We also have to mention Lupita Nyong’o, a Kenyan-Mexican actress and the daughter of a Kenyan politician, who among her many achievements, was named the “most beautiful woman” by “People” magazine in 2014.
We have other Kenyans who are shining on the world map and in very different sectors from education to representation in different World cup games, to acting….many “firsts”!
There you have it! Small details about Kenya that you might never have paid attention to, but now you know!