Kenya is more than five and a half times bigger than Hungary: 582,650 sq km (224,961 sq mi.). Its capital is Nairobi.

The highest point is Mount Kenya (which means ‘shine’): 5199m. The country was named after this mountain. The biggest rivers are Tana and Galana, and the largest lakes are Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana.

The official languages of Kenya are English and Swahili. The country is a republic which regained its independence on December 12, 1963. Before this it was a protectorate of the United Kingdom.

The population is three and a half times bigger than that of Hungary. The inhabitants belong mostly to the Kikuju (22%), Lujha (14%) and the Kalenjin (12%) ethnic groups, but many of the Kamba (11%), Kissi (6%) and Meru (6%) are also present. 15% of the population originate from other ethnic groups and 1% is non-African.

In terms of religion, the biggest proportion of the people are Christian; 45% Protestant, 33% Roman Catholic, whilst 10% follows tribalism and another 10% Islam.

Information on health statistics show that the average life expectancy in Kenya is less that 49 years, compared to Hungary where it is 73.

6.7% of the Kenyan peopls are HIV-positive - affecting 1.2 million people.

The unemployment rate is 40% and half of the people exist at subsistence level.

Out of the countless footprints which can be found on the ground of Kenya, the first ones were left behind by wandering tribes arriving from Ethiopia 2000 years B.C. Another tribe arrived 1000 B.C and seized a big territory in the central part of Kenya. Others came between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. The Bantu speaking people (like Guusi, Kikuyu, Akamba and Meru) came from Western Africa, while the Nilotic speaking tribes (Maasai, Luo,) are from the Nile valley in the southern part of Sudan. While these tribes were wandering towards the center of the country, Muslims and Shirazi people from Persia (today Iran) settled down on the eastern coast of Africa in the 8th century.

Attracted by spices and money, Portuguese seamen arrived around the 15th century. In 1505, they started to conquer the area. By the 16th century, most of the Swahili merchant cities, including Mombassa, were exploited or occupied—indicating the end of trading with Arab people across the Indian Ocean. The Portuguese settled in for a long time, acting as strict colonizers and pitting the local tribal leaders against each other. However, their power on the coast was always weak, as they had to supply those outposts from Goa, India. The control of the coastal areas was taken back by the Arabs in 1720.

In the 18th century, Omani Dynasties from the Persian Gulf ruled the eastern coast of Africa. The lessening of Portuguese control, and the continuous power struggle between the Arab governors slowed down trading and development, which implied that Britain and Germany were not interested in the acquisition of Eastern Africa until the middle of the 19th century.

Further...

When the Europeans suddenly rushed into Africa, looking for fame and fortune, even the interior of Kenya was forced to reveal its secrets before the newcomers. Until the end of the 1880s, the Rift Valley and the Aberdares were the homeland of the proud warrior tribe the Maasai. At the end of the 19th century, the war between the two rival groups of Maasai weakened the tribe. Diseases and starvation also took their toll on people. This opened the door for the British to make a contract with the head of the Maasai in order to build the Mombasa-Uganda railway. Today, Nairobi is roughly the midpoint of this line.

This was the beginning of the fall of Maasai. As the white settlers wanted more and more land, the Maasai people were forced back to smaller and smaller camps. The Kikuyu, a farming tribe from the higher lands of Kenya also had to give up their land.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the British managed to create a viable colony. Other Europeans started to plant coffee, and by 1950 the number of white settlers was 80 000. As they did not have any other choice than to cooperate with the Europeans, Kikuyu people were lucky. Harry Thuku, the first leader of the Kikuyu political union, was imprisoned by the British in 1922. Later, his follower, Johnstone Kamau (Jomo Kenyatta) became the first president of the independent Kenya.

The Kenya Evaluation Association was created to campaign against colonisation. Soon other organisations also raised their voices for freedom, including Mau Mau, whose members (mostly the Kikuyu) fought for the expulsion of white settlers from Kenya. The following Mau Mau uprising ended in 1956 with the defeat of rebels. More than 13000 Africans – Mau Mau guerillas, citizens and troops – and more than 1000 European settlers died in the conflicts.

Jomo Kenyatta, the leader of Mau Mau, spent years in prison and under house arrest. When he was released in 1961, he became the leader of the evolving Kenya African National Union (KANU). He proclaimed the independency of Kenya on December 12th 1963, and under his leadership, Kenya became one of the most stable and wealthy of the African countries. When Kenyatta died in 1978, Daniel Arap Moi, a member of the Tugan tribe, became the president of Kenya.

Moi tried to weaken his opposition; he divided the tribal societies and controlled learning in the universities. As the dissatisfaction was growing, the Air Force of Kenya tried to overthrow Moi’s government, but this attempted coup was repressed by the loyalists of the president. The Air Force was dismissed and new legions were organized. At the end of the 80’s and the beginning of the 90’s Africa was swept over by the wind of democratic pluralism, and the international aid for Moi’s Kenya was suspended.

A Nemzetközi Pénzalap (EMF), a Világbank és a nagyobb pénzügyi hitelezők azt követelték, hogy normalizálják az ország belső viszonyait és Moi kénytelen volt lemondani. Azonban az ellenzék az 1993-as választásokon öngólt lőtt: a Demokrácia Felújításának Fóruma (FORD) képtelen volt vezetőt választani. Moi az ellenzéki habozást kihasználva megszerezte a szavazatok egyharmadát.

In 1995 a new political party was created to reunite the former opposition. The Safina party was founded by Richard Leakey; the famous anthropologist, conservationist and political activist. In 1997, by rigging of votes and the intimidation of the opposition, Moi managed to recreate his government. The political instability remained: in August, 1998, terrorists bombed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam—more than 250 people were killed and 5000 people were injured. This proves the that Kenya is still in need of social and political change.

Commotions and riots in Kenya and after

Dear assistants of Taita, supporters and friends!

I would like to write you a short summary regarding the Kenyan situation for a long time but it used to be delayed. Here is the time to compensate you.

I am sure you followed with attention the Kenyan political/ethnical riots which started after the president election held at 27 December. Since then the situation calmed down and the Hungarian news do not deal with the African country; however, the foreign papers still publish articles regarding the affects of the riots.

Further...

Firstly, I report about our orphans. Everything was all right. The orphanage in Bura is located so that the fights did not get there. As the riots started right after Christmas, the children stayed at home, three children who study in a far public school did not return to school after the holidays. Later they started the way but they were turned back. Tuition started last Monday in most of the schools and our children went back to school as well.

The nursery school we initiated was temporarily abandoned although only orphans and some kids from the village attend it. However, everyone was happy to have his kid at home. The nursery school opened its gates one week prior to the start of tuition in schools. So life is back to its normal path.

Angeline, one of my good friends from out there with whom I exchanged several text messages regarding the situation, reported that although nothing happened in Bura, there were fights in the closest village that took tolls. Only 15 km from Bura. Furthermore she complained that prices (especially food prices) increased significantly.

Only a single ethnical group lives around Kikambala (where the other orphanage is located) therefore there were no fights luckily and everyone is well off.

The riots might have affects on Kenya on the long-term. The country was previously considered to be politically stabile and now lost its reputation although the situation was arranged quickly. Kenya lost categories in the investor’s world. People are still starving and wishing to achieve a better standard of living – as they just reflected this with their riot. We hope that this situation will improve soon.

We should be glad that these riots did not turn to be a long civil war. And lets stand besides the people of Kenya in this situation.

This is shortly what I wanted to share with you.

25 February 2008

Best regards:
Borbély Emese

The legendary Big Five are the five dangerous wild beasts that can be found in Africa: the lion (simba), the leopard (chui), the water buffalo (nyati), the elephant (tembo) and the rhinoceros (kifaru). All of the Big Five can be seen in Kenya. However, you would be lucky to spot at least three of them in a national park. The poaching decimated the rhino population, leopards live a reclusive life, but now the Maasai people are not allowed to hunt lions.

SPORT

Kenyan gold medals at the Olympic Games.
The list below shows the results of Kenyan medal winners until 2004.

1968, Mexico City – Kipchoge KEINO - athletics, Naftali KEMU - athletics, Amos BIWOTT - athletics

1972, Munich - men 4x400m relay - athletics, Kipchoge KEINO - athletics

1984, Los Angeles - Julius KORIR - athletics

1988, Seoul - Paul ERENG - athletics, Peter RONO - athletics, John NGUGI - athletics, Julius KARIUKI - athletics, Robert WANGILA - box

1992, Barcelona - William TANUI - athletics, Matthew BIRIR - athletics

1996, Atlanta - Joseph KETER - athletics

2000, Sydney - Noah NGENY - athletics, Reuben KOSGEI - athletics

2004, Athens - Ezekiel KEMBOI – athletics

2008, Peking -Brimin Kiprop KIPRUTO - férfi 3000 m akadályfutás, Pamela JELIMO - női 800 m, Samuel WANSIRU- férfi maraton, Wilfred BUNGEI- férfi 800 m síkfutás, Nancy Jebet LANGAT - női 1500 m síkfutás

BRIEF SWAHILI COURSE

The official languages of Kenya are English and Swahili, but another 40 languages exist throughout the country. Swahili, which shows Arabic influences, is a real international language; spoken by more than 50 million people over 7 countries which makes it useful for interpretation between countries. English language is mainly used in official businesses, and in national parks. Below you can see some basic Swahili words and phrases:

Asante. – Thank you.
Habari? – How are you?
Hakuna matata!- No problem!
Jambo, jambo! - Hello!
Jina lako nani? – What is your name?
Jina langu... - My name is...
Karibu! - Welcome!
Kwaheri! - Good bye!
Sifahamu. - I don't understand.

ndiyo-yes
hapana-no

kula-to eat
kulala-to sleep
kunywa-to drink

rafiki-friend
moja-one
mbili-two
tatu-three