Various peoples within the country have their
linguistic and cultural characteristics. The large folk
groups - like kikuyu and luo - have a prominent place
with their dances, crafts and storytelling traditions.
On the coast, the so-called Swahili culture blends Arab
and Muslim traditions with elements of indigenous
Examples of Swahili culture architecture, with
example carved mangrove door posts, are found in Mombasa
and on the island of Lamu. Along the coast, a rich oral
tradition, called ngoma, developed early. Here, in the
18th century, a Swahili text was also created, which was
written in Arabic writing.
Latest population statistics of Kenya, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
Kenya's foremost writer and playwright Ngugi wa
Thiong'o was arrested in 1977 for political reasons and
jailed for a year without trial. At this time, he
switched to writing in Gauuyu (the language of the
Kikuyas) instead of in the language of the old colonial
power, English. Several of his novels with elements of
social criticism are published in Swedish, including the
Devil on the Cross. His plays have features of oral
storytelling tradition. Thiong'o left Kenya in 1982 to
live first in England, then in the United States. It was
not until summer 2004 that he visited Kenya again in
connection with a lecture tour. In 2006, Thiong'o
published her first novel in almost 20 years, The Wizard
of the Crow.
Among the more well-known English-language writers
are Leonard Kibera, Grace Ogot, Meja Mwangi, Wahome
Mutahi and Binyavanga Wainaina (1971–2019). The
playwright John Rugoiyo Gichuki has won, among other
things, the British BBC's award for best African play
for A time for cleansing, which deals with how violence
affects a family in Rwanda.
In 2014, Kenyan Lupita Nyong'o was awarded an Oscar
for Best Supporting Actress for her contribution in the
film 12 Years a Slave, set in the 19th century USA. In
2018, the short film Watu Wote: All of Us was nominated
for an Oscar. The film is based on a real event, about
an Islamist attack on a bus in northeast Kenya in 2015
that is canceled when everyone refuses to tell the
assailants which of the passengers are Christian. It is
directed by German Katja Benrath with her Kenyan
Songaah: List and lyrics of songs related to the country name of Kenya. Artists and albums are also included.
The Bengali music, which originated in the music of
the Luo people, is the African style of music most
reminiscent of rock and pop. Interest in domestic music
has increased in recent years.
The media scene is relatively lively in Kenya
and the constitution adopted in 2010 strengthens freedom
of press and expression. But the government has
subsequently been criticized for new laws restricting
freedom and journalists reporting on sensitive topics
are exposed to threats, violence and harassment.
The media has traditionally examined the holders of
power and reported on, for example, the widespread
corruption. However, attempts are being made by the
state government to control the reporting, and according
to international press freedom organizations, the
situation has worsened after the 2013 elections. The
tribunal should be able to impose high fines for
violating a code of conduct. Several of the laws have
been challenged in court and it is unclear how far the
control will be. But only the threat of increased risk
of reprisal is considered to have led to restraint among
journalists. Topics that are risky to report include
security issues, police brutality and extrajudicial
executions, the International Criminal Court,
Defamation cases and other pressures are used to
silence criticism. Newspapers that are folded usually
have to pay high sums in fines, which leads to a certain
self-censorship. It also happens that journalists are
arrested and harassed, often by government officials.
The government can ban state advertising on inconvenient
media. Such a ban hit the media company Standard
Election Year 2007, after the newspaper published
information that a minister had been involved in trying
to hire a professional killer.
The Standard Group is one of two dominant media
companies and publishes The Standard (formerly East
African Standard), founded in 1902. Nation Media Group (NMG)
publishes Daily Nation which is the country's largest
newspaper, Kenya's only daily newspaper in Swahili,
Taifo Leo, and the prestigious weekly magazine The East
African. In addition, the company owns TV and radio
stations. In addition, there is another daily newspaper
and a number of magazines.
Most Kenyans receive their news via radio. In
connection with the outbreak of violence after the 2007
elections (see Modern history), a temporary ban on live
broadcasts was introduced. It has been criticized as a
restriction on media freedom. At the same time, it is
clear that several local radio stations were used to
stir up violence. One of the two people charged by the
ICC for the deadly violence is Joshua arap Sang, the
head of a Kalenjin-language radio station (see ICC
trials after the 2007 election).
The state-run Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC)
broadcasts in English, Swahili, Hindi and a variety of
native languages. Several private radio stations
broadcast in different local languages. KBC is alone in
having nationwide television broadcasts, in English and
Swahili. The broadcasts are now financed through
The commercial channels are freer in their reporting
and reach more and more even outside the big cities.
FACTS - MASS MEDIA
Percentage of the population using the
18 percent (2017)
Number of mobile subscriptions per 100
Presidential candidates are appointed
The anniversary alliance appoints Uhuru Kenyatta as its presidential
candidate, with Ruto as the candidate for the vice presidential post. As
expected, Raila Odinga Cord becomes the presidential candidate and Musyoka its
vice presidential candidate.
New electoral districts cause unrest
Prime Minister Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka announce that they
will cooperate in the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (Cord).
About 40 people are killed in new unrest between the snake and pokoma people in
the coastal province (see August and September 2012).
According to the UN, the unrest may be because the boundaries of the electoral
districts have been redrafted.
A great alliance is formed for upcoming elections
Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto announce that they and their parties TNA and
URP are cooperating before the elections, in the Jubilee Alliance. Shortly
thereafter, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi also joins them. Kenyatta and
Mudavadi will try to be nominated as presidential candidate of the alliance,
while Ruto will become vice presidential candidate regardless of which of the
other two is elected.
Attacks against church
Another attack is directed at a church in the town of Garissa near the border
with Somalia (see also July 2012). One person is killed and
Murder of politician
Unrest erupts in Kisumu in the west since ODM politician Shem Onyango Kwega
was assassinated. Two people are killed and several injured after clashes
between police and protesters.
The government intervenes against MRC
President Kibaki approves new anti-terrorism legislation with stricter
penalties. The government announces at the beginning of the month that it will
intervene against MRC (see July 2012) and its financiers. One
of the group's leaders, Omar Mwamnuadzi, and another ten people are arrested by
police. Two of Mwamnuadzi's bodyguards are killed as they try to prevent the
arrest. A leader of the MRC, Omar Mwamnuadzi, and another dozen people are
arrested. Two of Mwamnuadzi's bodyguards are killed as they try to prevent the
New anti-terrorism legislation is adopted
Attacks with lethal outcome should be able to give life imprisonment and
other attacks up to 30 years in prison. Security forces are given new powers
when it comes to arresting terror suspects, seizing their property and
intercepting them. Muslims fear that the laws will be directed primarily at the
Muslim minority. Criticism also comes from elsewhere, as it is feared that the
laws can be used to restrict freedom of expression.
Stricter punishment for terrorist offenses
The High Court in the United Kingdom gives the go-ahead to allow three
Kenyans to sue British authorities for torture during the Mau-Mau uprising in
the 1950s (see Modern History).
Politicians are suspected of being behind violence
Deputy Minister of Livestock Dhado Godhana is being charged for rioting after
statements he made in connection with the violence that continues in the Tana
River district (see August 2012). He also loses his ministerial
post. According to Human Rights Watch , there may be politicians hoping to enter
parliament in the 2013 elections are behind the violence. The aim would be to
strengthen their own position by driving away their political opponents
Violence after Islamist leader's murder
Islamist preacher Aboud Rogo is shot dead in Mombasa. It is unclear who is
behind the murder. The shooting has triggered violent riots in Mombasa, where
young Islamists clash with the police and several churches are set on fire. At
least three people are killed, two policemen and one civilian. Many of the
protesters say the police are involved in the murder.
Fractions between people groups require life
More than 50 people, most of them women and children, are killed in
connection with a dispute between the peoples snake and the pokoma about pasture
lands in the Tana River district of the Coast Province.
Banning Claim Claimed
The Supreme Court cancels the ban on Mombasa's Republican Council (MRC)
seeking to establish an independent state around Mombasa (see Political system).
Attack on churches
Seventeen people are killed and about 40 injured in a concerted attack on two
churches in Garissa. al-Shabaab is suspected of the act.
Presidential candidate dies.
In early June, George Saitoti (see November 2006), Minister
of Internal Security, dies in a helicopter crash. He had announced that he would
stand as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election.
Bomb at nightclub
One person is killed and several injured when explosive charges explode at a
nightclub in Mombasa.
Leaders change party
Musalia Mudavadi leaves ODM and announces that he will stand as a candidate
in the presidential election. He will run for the newly formed United Democratic
Forum (UDF). Uhuru Kenyatta leaves Kanu and announces that he is now leading the
National Alliance (The National Alliance, TNA).
Attacks in coastal cities
The Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab is suspected of two attacks in the
coastal cities of Mombasa and Mtwapa. At least one person is killed and about 30
Elections are announced
The Election Commission announces that the next election will be held on
March 4, 2013.
Nine dead in assaults
At least nine people are killed in a grenade attack on a bus station in
Nairobi. The government accuses al-Shabaab of the act, but the militant group
Prosecution is blamed on the Prime Minister
After the charges have been made public, both Kenyatta and Ruto hold mass
meetings in areas where they have strong support. They accuse Prime Minister
Odinga of being behind the ICC 's prosecution and his opinion figures are
Prosecution is brought against the former suspects of crime
The ICC announces that enough evidence has been found to bring charges
against four leading politicians (see ICC trials after the 2007 election).
William Ruto says he plans to stand in the upcoming presidential election,
despite the ICC prosecution. Although Kenyatta resigns as finance minister a few
days after the ICC's announcement. However, he retains the post of Deputy Prime
Minister. Francis Muthaura also leaves his post in the government.
Attack against police posting
At least six people are killed when a police post is attacked near the border
with Somalia. al-Shabaab takes on the blame for the act.
New party with crime suspect in the lead
William Ruto (see August 2011) registers a new party, the
United Republican Party (URP), and says he plans to run in the next presidential