Mount Kenya, whose name means “mountain of ostriches” (Kiinyaa) among the Wakamba living at its feet, is the highest point in the country and the second highest peak in Africa (5,199 m at the Batian peak, 5,188 m at Nelion Point and 4985 m at Lenana Point). Mount Kenya, born about 3 million years ago from the opening of the African rift, has been covered for millennia by a huge ice cap that has greatly carved its slopes, hence the many valleys that descend from the summit.
In the heart of the great savannah, Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, haloed in white and connected by the Rift Valley, stand in the middle of national parks where elephants, lions, giraffes, rhinos, buffaloes, moose, antelopes, evolve in all freedom.
To discover Kenya is to enjoy its beautiful landscapes, the equatorial forest with high volcanic peaks, through the vast plains and paradisiacal beaches of the Indian Ocean, it is to discover the great African fauna, including the famous Big Five, without forgetting the encounters with Masais, Kikuyus or
Samburus, the last semi-nomadic tribes.
|Populations||44, 3 million persons.|
|Area||582 650 km2.|
|Town||Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru.|
|High Point||Mont Kenya, 4 985 m.|
|Languages||English and Swahili.|
|Religions||Christians 70% and Muslims 30%|
|Weather||Compared to France, more two hours from November to March same time, April to October. UTC/GMT: +3.|
Bordered by the Indian Ocean, Kenya’s neighbors are Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.
Four zones define the country:
- the mountain: the altitude rises from east to west; the Rift Valley gave rise to mountains and lakes; Mount Kenya, the highest peak in the country, is an extinct volcano with snow-capped peaks all year round; Mount Longonot culminates at about 2,700 meters. The sides of these mountains are home to so-called primitive and equatorial forests.
- the plains are found in the eastern part of the country and are mainly occupied by savannas.
- lakes and shores: many lakes have formed along the Rift Valley, 40 to 80 km wide, such as Lake Turkana in the north of the country, Lakes Hannington, Baringo, Navasha, Nakurau and Natron in the south. The Indian Ocean borders more than 500 km of Kenyan coastline, made up of sandy beaches protected by coral reefs. The Funzi Islands stretch offshore. Mombasa City is actually an island connected to the mainland by a sea wall to the west, a bridge to the north and a ferry to the south. All land slightly set back on the coast is arable land.
- Reserves and natural parks: Meru, Tsavo and Amboseli, where everyone must start their safari at dawn to see the animals against the backdrop of pink Kilimanjaro, and especially the Masai Mara Park.
The equatorial climate is influenced by the Asian monsoon and the mountainous regions of the country.
The two dry seasons are ideal for traveling in Kenya:
- The long dry season, from June to the end of September;
- the short dry season, from December to March.
Most national parks are located at high altitudes on the highlands (more than 1000 m) and are protected from extreme heat. The climate is hot and humid all year round on the Indian Ocean coast. It is very cold when climbing the summit of Mount Kenya. Cool temperatures also in the parks in the heart of the
southern winter (July-August). Severe thunderstorms are possible in all seasons.
Agriculture still accounts for 70% of the active population and nearly 25% of GDP. Large estates and plantations coexist alongside small farms. The main food crops are maize, millet, sorghum, cassava, sweet potato; coffee and tea crops are the main export products; plantations of sugar cane, tropical fruits,
sisal and cotton are important; a cut flower industry (production, processing and sale) has developed, it provides livelihoods for 500,000 Kenyans and accounts for 15% of exports, making Kenya the leading supplier of roses to the European Union. Livestock (cattle, sheep, goats) is important, but often has a
higher social value than economic value.
The country is not rich in natural and mineral resources except geothermal and soda ash from Lake Magadi. The industry has developed in the agro-food, metallurgical, textile and chemical sectors.
Tourism is based on the exceptional heritage of large natural parks (Amboseli, Masai-Mara, Samburu, Tsavo).
The poorly urbanized population (30%) is concentrated in the southwestern highlands, the coast and the Lake Victoria region.
There are three groups belonging to different language families. The majority of Kenyans – Luhyas, Kambas and Kikuyu – are Bantu speakers. The Masai, Turkana, Suk (pastoralist), Kalenjin, Samburu, Nandis and Luo are part of the Nilo-Saharan (Nilotic) group. In the northeast, the Somali nomads, Boranas
and Ormas belong to the Hamito-Semitic (Cushite) group. The country also has Indian, European, Arab and Somali minorities. In addition to the official languages, there are more than 40 dialects. Each individual recognizes at first sight the group of another person, by his features, his dress, his scarifications,
- The Kikuyu are Kenya’s largest tribe. Living in the highlands between Nairobi and Mount Kenya, they are mainly farmers and hold political power.
- The Luos live in the Kisumu region, on the shores of Lake Victoria. They excel in freshwater fishing. They claim power and represent the political opposition.
- The Masai are the most curious tribe in East Africa. These proud and tradition-oriented people live in much of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. Nomadic warriors and herders, they build small temporary circular houses using criss-crossing branches covered in cow dung and mud; this
mixture dries quickly in the sun and becomes as hard as cement. Women build houses and take care
- The Luhyas are a group of different tribes united under the same name by English settlers. Their languages are very close. They live in western Kenya, between Nakuru and the Ugandan border
- Are grouped under the name of Swahilis, the Turkanas, in the north of the country, the Kalenjin group in the west, the Merus east of Mount Kenya (tribe close to the Kikuyu), the Taitas south of Tsavo and the tribes coastal (especially Digo).
The country’s history
Successive waves of immigration gradually replaced the populations of origin close to the Pygmies and the Bushmen, living from hunting and gathering: the Cushitic peoples of North-East Africa and the Ethiopian highlands, the Bantus of the south -western Africa and the Nilotic peoples from Sudan. The Kalenjins, herders and farmers, occupy the highlands of western Kenya. The Luos, a Hamite people, who arrived on the east coast of Lake Victoria at the beginning of the 16th century, settled among the Bantus.
Arab sailors buying gold, ivory and slaves, a very flourishing trade develops in the 15th century on the coast; the interbreeding with the Bantu populations gave birth to a brilliant civilization and to a language, Swahili, a mixture of Bantu and Arabic. The Portuguese, landed in 1497, seized Mombasa in 1593,
then occupied the other ports. In 1698, Mombasa was conquered by the Arabs of Oman, who controlled the coastline throughout the 18th century. The Arab presence leads to a partial Islamization of the coastal population.
In 1886, British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury and German Chancellor Bismarck signed an agreement delineating areas of influence in East Africa. The country, under British protectorate in 1895, became a colony in 1920. As early as 1896, the first British settlers arrived and employed a large workforce on huge
plantations. In 1925, Joseph Kangethe and Jomo Kenyatta established the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA), which called for the return of land to its people. From 1952 to 1956, the Kikuyu revolt, although pressed, undermines the colonial system, the United Kingdom gives a place to Indians and Africans
within the local Legislative Council. Two African political parties form – the Kenya African National Union (KANU), claiming J. Kenyatta, and the more moderate and federalist Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU), led by Ronald Ngala – creating a rift between Kikuyu and Luos on the one hand, the
Kalenjins and Bantu populations on the other.
Independence was proclaimed in December 1963. A year later, the Republic was proclaimed and J. Kenyatta became Kenya’s first president. In July 1969, Luo Tom Mboya, pro-Western, a young minister and considered the heir apparent to J. Kenyatta, was assassinated. Kenyatta was re-elected as president, and in the December legislative elections only KANU was allowed to nominate candidates. In 1974, J. Kenyatta, who had just declared Swahili the national language, was re-elected for five years. On his death in 1978, Vice President Daniel Arap Moi, a Kalenjin, succeeded him. The regime hardened and a single-party system was officially established in 1982. The appearance in 1986 of the revolutionary leftist movement Mwakenya worried the government, which carried out numerous arrests. The intolerance of the regime pushes the United States to link its aid to respect for human rights and the government restores the multiparty system. But in the 1992 elections, the divided opposition was defeated by President Moi, who was re-elected, and KANU won a majority in Parliament. In the Rift Valley, the Kikuyu harassed by the Kalenjins and the Masai, who want to take back their lands, cause serious disturbances. The opposition creates new parties, including the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD); an Islamic party founded by Sheikh Balala settles in Mombasa. But opposition divisions enabled President Moi to win the
1997 presidential and legislative elections. With the bombing of the United States Embassy in Nairobi in August 1998, Kenya moved closer to the United States in the face of terrorism, confirmed Secretary of State C. Powell. visit in 2001 and 2005.
The Constitution prohibiting President Moi from seeking a new mandate, he imposed on KANU the candidacy of the young Uhuru Kenyatta, son of J. Kenyatta. The opposition, united in the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), won the 2002 general elections. Its Kikuyu candidate, Mwai Kibaki, became
president. Kibaki is not implementing the most promised reforms. In November 2005, Kenyans rejecting the proposed referendum on constitutional reform, President Kibaki undertakes a cabinet reshuffle. The PLD joined forces with KANU to form the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM-Kenya), which won the
legislative elections ahead of the presidential camp restructured around the National Unity Party (PNU); Mr. Kibaki is re-elected as President. The opposition denouncing a massive fraud in the counting of votes, opens a cycle of violence, sometimes taking, in particular in the Rift Valley, the appearance of
interethnic conflicts. In 2010, a new constitution was adopted by referendum; it provides for a better balance between the powers and the important limitations of the presidential prerogatives – the institution of a senate representing the counties and of a supreme court, the procedure of
impeachment by the two assemblies of the president who can no longer dissolve the parliament , guaranteeing civil liberties in a bill of rights, decentralization… In addition, a land policy aimed at a more equitable distribution of land is explicitly included.
Present in many peacekeeping operations, Kenya participates in cooperation against terrorism. At the regional level, it conducts an intense mediation policy. In 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta, candidate of the national alliance (from the PNU), was narrowly elected to the presidency of the Republic. The new president
announces a program focused on the redistribution of wealth and equitable access to land, economic development, the fight against insecurity and the preservation of national unity across ethnic divisions.