Kenya Economy and Culture
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, LIVESTOCK AND FISHING
Primary activities occupied approx. 18% of the active population (2006), 26% participating in the formation of the national product. The sector has fallen deeply since the 1970s, often affected by prolonged drought, floods and phenomena such as erosion and desertification which have reduced the percentage of arable land to 8%. Not having adequate technologies – outside large plantations – the agricultural sector tends to consume increasing quantities of space. In this way, especially in areas subjected to greater demographic pressure, a conflict is created with important tourist activities, polarized by some coastal areas (for example Malindi) and by the numerous national parks and nature reserves. Agriculture presents the typical dualism of colonial derivation; on the one hand there is subsistence agriculture, which occupies the great mass of the peasant population but remains unprofitable, on the other, plantation agriculture, of a commercial setting,English and South African farmers thanks to the favorable environmental conditions of the Kenyan highlands. Subsistence agriculture mainly supplies cereals, among which corn prevails in the better-watered highlands, millet and sorghum in the poorest areas; wheat, rice, etc. are also grown. Cassava, sweet potato and potato, bananas and certain horticultural products are also important for local food. Commercial agriculture is mainly aimed at the cultivation of coffee, whose ideal environment is in the highlands around Mount Kenya, and tea, which is also widespread on the highlands. In the coastal region, cotton, sugar cane and agave are grownsisalana and coconut palms. Among the fruit-bearing crops (citrus fruits, etc.), pineapple is important, which feeds a thriving canning industry. Finally, pyrethrum is peculiar to Kenya, the essence of which is used as an insecticide and of which the country is one of the major world producers. § Forest exploitation is linked not only to the production of timber, but also to the conservation of the natural habitat and to tourism; woods and forests cover more than 30% of the land area. The precious essences (cedars, podocarps, etc.) are found mainly in the mountainous belt between 2000 and 2700 m of altitude. § The other great economic resource of the country is the breeding of livestock; it is practiced on the highlands by the peasants, who thus integrate their agricultural economy, but it represents the only source of income for some populations, such as the Turkana and the Masai. The number of cattle is particularly conspicuous, but goats and sheep are also well represented, as well as poultry; the area of greatest livestock development is the Great Rift Valley. In the North, dromedaries are also widespread among the Turkana and Somali. Cattle breeding, managed in part by Europeans, feeds a lively dairy business of a commercial nature (which supplies milk, butter, cheese, etc.) and also a substantial trade in meat: on the whole, Kenya is one of the few African countries to be able to count on a modernly organized animal husbandry. § The fishing, rather modest, is practiced by the riparian populations both in inland waters, including the Lake Victoria, both along the coast.
MINERAL RESOURCES AND INDUSTRY
The industry participates for approx. 18% to the formation of the national income and is concentrated around Nairobi and Mombasa; has a fairly varied range of activities, both in basic production and in that of consumer goods. There was a moderate increase in the steel, chemical (especially fertilizers) and petrochemical, cement and construction materials sectors; however, most industrial activities concern the processing of local agricultural and livestock products, thus including canneries, sugar refineries, breweries, tobacco factories, oil mills, milling complexes, leather processing plants, cotton mills, etc. § Kenya is quite poor from a mining point of view, although it has a certain variety of minerals: gold, silver and lead (north of Mombasa), copper, gypsum, soda (near Lake Magadi), fluorite and supplied salt from the salt pans near Malindi. There is a lack of energy minerals; the necessary energy is produced both from imported oil, which powers some thermoelectric plants in the major centers, and above all from large hydroelectric plants (almost two thirds of the energy produced is of thermal origin). Also important is the production of geothermal energy, in the Rift Valley where there are hot springs, shower heads and geysers.
Inhabited by numerous tribes of different origins, the country has a great disparity of uses and customs. Among the Masai, wealth is measured by the number of cattle, just as it is a sign of prosperity to have several children. In urban areas, many wear Western clothes, but this is not always a sign of high social status. Women typically wear the colorful kanga, a large piece of cloth that is draped as if it were a shawl or skirt, with a scarf on their heads. Some ethnic groups, such as the Kikuyu and Luo, have adopted Western customs and habits much more quickly than other ethnic groups, who prefer to keep traditional ornaments and clothing. Women of the nomadic tribes of the north, for example, wear the gorfa, a goat or sheepskin dyed red or black draped around the body, held in place by a leather cord and a rope belt.
Corn is the main food for Kenyans; it is ground into flour and prepared as a porridge (posho), and is sometimes mixed with beans, potatoes or vegetables, to make up a dish called irio. Another popular dish is ugali, a beef stew; it is eaten directly from a large pot, where everyone serves themselves using a piece of meat as a spoon to collect beans and other vegetables. Other popular dishes are matoke (mashed banana) and boiled vegetables (mboga). Shepherds base their diet on milk, while fish is consumed near the sea and along the shores of Lake Victoria. The most popular drinks are tea with milk and sugar and palm wine. There are many events celebrated in the country: the Maulid Festival takes place in Lamu, which celebrates the birth of Mohammed; the carnival of Mombasa, in the month of November, is enlivened by music and dances; the Tusker Safari is an international rugby tournament held in Nairobi in June. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites are the old city of Lamu (2001) and the ancient fortified villages, called kayas ( 2008) of the ancient mijikenda people, located in the forests along the coast and Fort Jesus in Mombasa (2011), an example of a Portuguese military fortification from the 16th century. Visit healthvv.com for Kenya with fascinating culture.