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East Africa Coffee Report

Todays Coffee: Kenya AA

Geography

  • Kenya is located in East Africa and is bordered by Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania. The country is named after Mt. Kenya, which is the highest point in the country and at 17,057 feet high is the second highest peak on the African continent after Mount Kilimanjaro.

  • Kenya is a beautiful country with terrain rising from a low coastal plain on the Indian Ocean to mountains and plateaus (areas of level high ground) at its centre. It has long stretches of white sandy beaches and a calm ocean filled with coral reefs.

  • Most Kenyans live in the highlands, where Nairobi, the capital, sits at an altitude of 1,700 meters.

  • Kenya’s ecosystems include deserts, swamps, mountain and forests. Each region has its own mix of plants and animals that are suited to the area’s particular conditions. Kenya’s highland forests are home to many animals found nowhere else in the world


Culture, History and Religion

  • In Kenya, more than 60 languages are spoken and there are more than 40 ethnic groups. Almost everyone there speaks more than one African language.

  • Swahili also known as Kiswahili is a Bantu language and is the national language of Kenya. A significant fraction of Swahili vocabulary derives from Arabic.

  • School is free in Kenya, but many children are too busy to go to classes. They help their families by working the land, tending cattle, cooking or fetching water.

  • Kenya’s government is a Republic. They have an elected President and a Parliament. The country gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1963, and declared themselves a Republic in 1964.

  • Dowries are still traditional in Kenya. The groom’s parents must pay a dowry to the bride’s family otherwise their son will not be able to wed his bride. Dowries start at 10 cows. Kenyan men can have more than one wife if they choose to.

  • Vibrant minibuses – known as matatus – fill the streets of Nairobi, Kenya, blaring music as they bounce and weave through traffic. Cheap, convenient and sometimes a tad chaotic, matatus are the choice mode of transport for most Kenyans. Matatus sport diverse designs featuring hip hop artists, international pop stars, athletes, political icons and even religion.

  • For Kenyans, a harambee represents an unwritten law of generosity, and regardless of class, ethnic group, gender or religious background, they will lend a hand to assist anyone in need. Today, one of the most common examples of harambee in action is through groups called chamas, cooperative societies that pool savings and investments. These collectives are often formed by family members, friends or co-workers and are used to do everything from paying for large social gatherings to forming new businesses to investing in land.


Economy

  • Kenya’s economy is a described as a liberal market with limited government control. The only thing the government control’s in the economy is certain commodity prices.

  • Telecommunication is the largest sector in Kenya’s economy. It comprises 62% of Kenya’s total GDP. Agriculture is next, which comprises 22% of the GDP.

  • Agriculture also employs over 75% of Kenya’s citizens.

  • The country’s main imports include machinery, vehicles, plastics and transport equipment.

  • Tourism is a huge generator of income for Kenya. People come to the country to see nature, and go on safaris.

  • The Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi serves a variety of meats including ostrich, crocodile and camel roasted over charcoal and carved at the dining table. The house cocktail is called the “dawa” (which translates as magic potion in swahili or medicine). It is served on a portable tray by the medicine man aptly named Dr. Dawa.

  • The soft drinks giant Coca-Cola has marked 70 years of operation in Kenya. In 1948 the company started operations selling imported Coca-Cola beverages from its plant on Addis Ababa Road in Nairobi’s Industrial Area before starting to manufacture and bottle the beverage.


Natural Resources

  • Kenya’s main exports are primarily agricultural with horticultural and tea being the most important.

  • About 70% of Kenyan coffee is produced by small-scale holders. The coffee industry employs several million Kenyans either directly or indirectly. The major coffee growing regions in Kenya are the high plateaus around Mt. Kenya. The acidic soil in the highlands of central Kenya along with the right amount of sunlight and rainfall provide excellent conditions for growing coffee plants.


Population

  • Over half of the country’s population lives in poverty.

  • In 2012, the population of Kenya was estimated to be around 43 million. Today however it is estimated to be around the 53 million mark.

  • Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, has more than 40 areas defined as slums and approximately 60% of Nairobi’s population, of 4.4 million people, live in low income settlements.

  • Despite the majority of the population living in poverty, The Africa Wealth Report 2022 indicates that Kenya has 8,500 individuals with a net worth of over $1 million.


Sports

  • Kenyan athletes are world famous particularly for long distance running. Men and women have won numerous races. The Kalenjin are a tribe in Kenya who have come to dominate the world’s long distance races. Kipchoge Keino, a Kalenjin, ushered in Kenyan dominance in running when he famously upset the world record holder Jim Ryun in the 1,500 meters at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The Kalenjin are known for their mental and physical toughness. In Kalenjin culture boys are circumsized in their mid-teens and this is an important rite of passage into manhood. Natural athletic talent and strong will power combined with perseverance have combined to produce incredible sporting accomplishments for Kenya.

  • John Ngugi was a legendary cross country runner and Olympics champion who won five world cross country titles in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1992 and the 5000 meters at the Olympics in 1988 in Seoul.

  • Faith Kipyegon is a Kenyan middle distance runner and a former Olympic and World Champion in the 1500 meters following her victory in the Rio Olympics in 2016 and the 2017 World Championships in 2017. She recently set the new world record in the 5000 meters at the Paris Diamond League event.

  • Vivian Cheruiyot is a Kenyan long-distance runner who is a former olympic champion in the 5000 meters.

  • Jemima Sumgong competes in marathon races and won her specialty event at the 2016 Olympic Games in a time of 2:24:04 in warm conditions.

  • David Rudisha is a member of the Maasai ethnic group in Kenya. He is the 2012 and 2018 Olympic champion and 2 time world champion and world record holder in the 800 meters and the only person to ever run under 1:41 for the event.

  • Joseph Keter an officer of the Kenyan army won the 3000 meter steeplechase at the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta.

  • Kenya’s national rugby sevens team competes in the World Rugby tournaments attaining their best result of third in 2009 at the World Cup Sevens.

  • Victor Wanyama, a football player born in Nairobi, played for several well known teams in Europe including Celtic, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur. Now age 31, he plays in the MLS for Canadian team Montreal CF.

  • The Safari Rally was first held in 1953, as the East African Coronation Safari in Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika as a celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Held on roads still open to the public, it became notorious as the toughest round of the WRC. Arduous conditions and constantly changing weather and more than 5000 competitive kilometers made simply finishing an achievement.


Wildlife

  • Kenya is associated with its wildlife which can be viewed in wildlife reserves and national parks. The “Big Five” of lions, elephants, leopards, cape buffalo and rhinos can be found in these parks.

  • The Maasai Mara is situated in south-west Kenya and is one of Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves. There is an annual wildebeest migration where animals can stretch as far as the eye can see. Lion prides feast on the wildebeest as they migrate.


Authors in the Region

  • The legendary American novelist, short story writer and journalist Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899- 1961) travelled to East Africa. He had an enormous appetite for adventure, war and danger. His experiences in the region provided material for Green Hills of Africa, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. Ernest won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

  • Ngugi Wa Thiongo’ is a Kenyan writer who was considered East Africa’s leading novelist. Ngugi presented his ideas on literature, culture, and politics in numerous essays and lectures as well as arguing for African-language literature as the only authentic voice for Africans. Some of his most popular works include Homecoming (1972), Writers in Politics (1981), Barrel of a Pen (1983), Moving the Centre (1993), and Penpoints, Gunpoints, and Dreams (1998) and In Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature (1986). Such works earned him a reputation as one of Africa’s most articulate social critics.

  • Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor was born in Kenya. She is the author of the novel Dust, which was shortlisted for the Folio Prize. Winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, she has also received an Iowa Writers’ Fellowship.

  • Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina (18 January 1971 – 21 May 2019) was a Kenyan author, journalist and 2002 winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. In April 2014, Time magazine included Wainaina in its annual Time 100 as one of the "Most Influential People in the World”. He also publicly announced to the world in 2014 that he was gay as a result of many countries in Africa passing anti-gay laws. Later on in 2016 on World Aids day, he also announced that he was HIV positive. Wainaina died, aged 48, after a stroke on the evening of 21 May 2019, at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi


Items of Interest in the Region

  • Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto has been elected as the country’s next President, the electoral commission announced Monday. Ruto won with 50.49% of the vote, narrowly defeating veteran opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who was contesting his fifth election. He will become Kenya’s fifth President since independence, winning the seat on his first attempt. Ruto’s party, the Kenya First coalition, has won a majority of seats in Kenya’s senate, the second highest in the National Assembly.

  • Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni signed one of the world's toughest anti-LGBTQ laws, including the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality”, drawing Western condemnation and risking sanctions from aid donors. Same-sex relations were already illegal in Uganda, as in more than 30 African countries, but the new law goes further.

  • On June 10th 2023, six civilians and three security force members were killed in a late-night attack by militant fighters on a beachside hotel in the Somalian capital Mogadishu, state media report. Security forces responded to reports of an attack by Al-Shabaab militant fighters on the Pearl Beach Hotel in Lido Beach late Friday, killing the four attackers, according the Somali National News Agency. With brazen terrorist attacks at home and abroad, the Somalia-based Islamist insurgent group has proved resilient despite strategic setbacks in recent years.

  • The United Nations Office at Nairobi, the UN headquarters in Africa, was established by the General Assembly in 1996.

  • Since October 2020, East Africa, one of the world’s most impoverished regions, has been gripped by its worst drought in 40 years as an unprecedented five consecutive rainy seasons have failed. The drought has brought catastrophic impacts to large areas of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia: Tens of thousands have died, crops have shriveled, livestock have starved and chronic hunger and water insecurity are widespread and growing.

  • Sudan is on the brink of collapse as forces loyal to two rival generals are battling for control of the resource-rich North African nation. The ongoing conflict has left hundreds of people dead, thousands more wounded and hundreds of thousands displaced, according to figures from the United Nations. It has also prompted a number of countries, including the United States, to evacuate personnel from Sudan and shutter diplomatic missions there indefinitely.


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