This week we are starting a series of posts highlighting the country of Kenya, brought to you by Gloria Teimuge. Gloria is a long-time friend of Spirit in Action and I reconnected with her last summer. She lives in Nairobi and is working on a Masters Degree in Creative Writing.
For the next few weeks, I will take you across Kenya through my lens. In these blog posts, you will hopefully learn more about this beautiful country- as revealed by my words and photographs. Now make a cup of tea, sit comfortably, wear your reading glasses and let’s take a safari.
When you think about Kenya, what comes to your mind? Just close your eyes for a minute and imagine Kenya. Can you hear the beat of the drums? Can you see the Maasai warriors with all their glory, adorned in gorgeous print shukas and colorful beadwork, jumping as high as they can, around a crackling bonfire…the audience singing and chanting catchy choruses? That’s just a taste. I’m going to take you along through a safari. Huddle closer around this literary campfire and I will tell you a little about the country I call home.
The mother continent, Africa, is made up of fifty-six countries and twelve territories. With an estimated population of 1.4 billion people and over 2,000 languages spoken (astonishing, right?), Africa is considered a hub of rich culture and diversity. In Kenya alone, we have at least 83 tribal & sub-tribal languages…I only speak 2! Of course, that’s excluding Swahili and English, which are the national languages.
Before all the countries and regions, Africa was made up of empires and kingdoms that spread out from the North to the South, West to East. These kingdoms were ruled by Kings and Queens, Chiefs and Elders. Very Wakanda-like… well, not presently, but let’s allow our imagination to run wild for the days of our past.
Kenya is a country in East Africa. It is bordered by Sudan to the North-West, Uganda to the West, Tanzania to the South, the Indian Ocean on the South-East, Somalia to the East and Ethiopia to the North. Kenya lies on the equator, which divides it into two halves. Its position on the equator means that it has a pleasant tropical climate. In different parts of the country, weather varies with altitude though.
Our country is named after Mt. Kenya, the 2nd tallest mountain in Africa standing giant along the equator snow-capped! The name Kenya is derived from Kirinyaga, a Bantu word meaning ‘God’s resting place.’ Three groups comprise the early migration into Kenya: Nilotes, Bantus and Cushites. In Kenya, Nilotes migrated in through the west, Bantus through the south and Cushites through the north. These groups can further be broken down into tribes, hence the 43 official tribes of Kenya!
A unitary state divided into 47 counties, Kenya’s system of governance is in two parts; the national government and the county government. The official name is Jamhuri ya Kenya- which means The Republic of Kenya.
The capital city of Kenya is Nairobi, which is a Maasai term meaning ‘a place of cool waters’. With a tropical climate, cool weather and lush green vegetation- the name is a perfect fit. The Maasai people can be seen in parts of Nairobi bringing their herds of cattle out to graze.
It is also the only city in the world to have a national park within its boundary! Make sure to see it. As you walk or drive along the streets, you are surrounded by lush greenery that gels well with the concrete, brick, or timber of buildings. Nature’s own balance! Just taking a drive to the city’s outskirts, you are able to have a glimpse of the occasional antelope, zebra, warthog or a mischievous baboon.
It’s these small wonders that make Kenya such a site to behold, and most importantly a cloud nine for me.
That’s all for this chapter. Stay tuned for the next. We’ll be looking at geography and landscape…with giraffes no less!
Photos by Heavenly Treasures Kenya and Tanya Cothran