Kenya: a Developing Country

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  • Topic: Kenya, Mwai Kibaki, Raila Odinga
  • Pages : 6 (2297 words )
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  • Published : October 9, 2008
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Kenya: A Developing Country

With the discovery of certain human fossils, some being over 3 million years old, many paleontologists believe that Kenya was the “cradle of humanity.” Currently, Kenya’s population is comprised of over 97 percent of people of African descent with nearly 40 ethnic groups. Lying on the equator between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda, Kenya is located on the eastern coast of Africa. Kenya is one of the most famous safari destinations in Africa, attracting people from all over. Its rich culture and beautiful environments make it one of the most favored places to visit in the world.

In the first section of this paper I will discuss the historical background of Kenya, including its early economical success in trade to its colonization in the 1500s. I will then lead into the young country’s independence from Great Britain and discuss what this meant for Kenya’s political foundations. Currently, there are two main political parties in Kenya. I will discuss how they have transformed over time along with the current post-election crisis and its effect on the economy. Finally, I will explain the institutions of Kenyan politics and how certain party members are elected.

Although, Kenya has been home to many African tribes for thousands of years, Arab traders didn’t begin settling in Kenya until the 1st century A.D. Items traded between the Arab world and India included ivory and slaves. Bantu peoples moved into the region and by the 10th century Kenya had its own language, Swahili. Trading proved to be profitable, and Arab traders prospered. These traditions continued throughout the 1st millennium and into the 2nd. Colonization began in the 1500s when Vasco de Gama of Portugal arrived in 1498. They demanded high tariffs from enemy trade ships that traveled the through the Indian Ocean and controlled a large percent of the trade up until the arrival of the Omani Arabs in the 1600s. Although the Omani dynasties of Arabia could not control the interior region of Kenya, they colonized the coastal area with more domination than the Portuguese originally had by implementing closer watch over foreign trade. By this time, the region had already become more of an interest point to many foreigners due to its economic potential. In the result of a power struggle in the early 1800s, the Omani Arabs fought to keep control over Kenya but the British saw this as an opportunity, which lead to the first European settlement in the 1830s.

The British took control of much of the trade during this time, but it wasn’t until the late 19th century when they, along with the Germans, seized power over many key-trading ports that many of the Omani Arabs began to vacate the region. Although many Omani Arabs left the area, there are still a number of descendants that live near the coastline of Kenya, some holding much wealth and political power. The British began to focus on more of a wage-labor system and eventually outlawed slave trade on the open seas by the late 1800s. Along with the German presence, the British continued to control most of the power on the coastal region of Kenya. In 1885, a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar’s coastal possessions was established but soon after, in 1890, the British obtained the possessions, ultimately leaving themselves with the most control over the region. Although disputes between tribes and non-native peoples had been going on for centuries, they began to escalate due to the inland presence of the British in the 1890s. With much advantage, the British weren’t affected by the presence of the tribes. Not long after, the Kenya-Uganda railroad was built, making for an easy pass through the area. By the 1930s, an estimated 30,000 whites, mainly farmers, had settled in the region. Among the goods traded were coffee and tea. This was very important to the establishment of Kenya because it contributed early economical growth to the foundations of the region. (7, Gatheru)(8,...
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