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Jan 11, 2022
Kenya is known the world over for certain of its exports, like coffee, as a safe place for many endangered species and for its spectacular landscapes. And yet, beyond this limited purview, you’ll find so much to learn, experience and explore in this East African country spanning 224,081 square miles. In today's Daily Dose we're taking you on a virtual trip to Kenya. We’ll start with a lay of the land, a sampling of some native dishes and local festivals, and a look at what Kenyans do for fun. Then, we’ll take a deep dive into some of the country’s most notable innovations and introduce you to people you should know, including Nobel laureates and pop icons, as well as eclectic sports that are becoming super popular. From consequential figures of today to the economic horizons of tomorrow, this is Kenya as you haven’t quite seen it before. Grab your ticket and let’s go!
LAY OF THE LAND
1 - Map it Out
As we begin this virtual trip to Kenya, first up are the large cities: Nairobi (the capital), Mombasa (south), Kisumu (east) and Eldoret (north of Kisumu). Also notice the four countries and three major bodies of water that Kenya borders: Ethiopia, Lake Turkana, Uganda, Tanzania, Lake Victoria, Indian Ocean and Somalia. Visit OZY’s Around the World series to learn even more about Kenya.
2 - Languages
English and Swahili are the country’s official languages, but there are roughly 70 other languages spoken by indigenous groups in Kenya. Even though there are many different varieties of Swahili, most people can understand them all — not unlike the various dialects of Spanish (e.g., Peruvian vs. Cuban). For anyone who’s surprised to learn that English is one of the two official languages, that’s the product of British colonialism starting in the 1800s to 1963 when Kenya gained its independence.
3 - Food
Kenyan fare is very meat- and stew-based. A typical dish might be mutton stew, served with ugali (starchy corn porridge) and vegetables like spinach (often cooked with bones or in meat broth). So, while the diet certainly doesn’t lean vegetarian, it includes lots of fruit, like mangos, pineapple and passion fruit — along with fresh pressed juices. For a morning beverage, grab a mug of Kenya’s world-famous coffee to wake you up for your safari tour and then look for Tusker beer at the end of the day. A popular midday pick-me-up? A cup of warm chai or spiced sweetened milk tea.
4 - Fierce
Ever wonder what it’s like to watch animals like rhinos, hippos, giraffes, elephants, lions, tigers and hyenas gather around a waterhole? You can take a safari and even spend the night in the field. If you can’t visit in person, check out this live camera to catch the animals in action.
5 - Festivals
Safaricom is one of Kenya’s largest music festivals with people flocking to listen to live jazz. If music isn’t your thing, and you’d rather snap amazing photos and go for the ride of your life, you’ll want to attend the international Camel Derby — a three-day festival that also features cycling, donkey rides and delicious cuisine from around the globe.
1 - Smarter Sanitation
Most of us take toilets for granted, but here’s an upgrade that makes real sense. Born out of the necessity to find a sustainable solution for water-scarce areas, this new toilet requires far less water than conventional toilets.
Nairobi-based M-KOPA is an $8 billion solar energy company providing affordable electricity to homes for as little as $1/month. This is the first firm to develop a metered payment system using mobile phone SIM cards.
Inside Kenya’s largest startup incubator, iHub, an educational software company called eLimu has created interactive tablets designed to groom the youngest Kenyans to become tech savvy and boost their earning potential down the road.
Kenya earned its nickname when it was recognized as the second most innovative country in sub-Saharan Africa (after South Africa) — and for its ability to attract more than 60 of the largest global brands, including Microsoft, and more than $2.9 billion in the IT and software sector.
From cupcakes to bitcoin, the winds of financial change are blowing through Kenya. It is a key market for cloud data centers, is way ahead of the curve in terms of mobile money and is big into cryptocurrency — all of which translates to an economy on the move.
Women fighting for their rights is hardly new, but meet a local boxing coach who’s adding a new dimension to the struggle. Find out how girls and young women are learning the ropes so they can defend themselves against violence and abusive treatment in their country.
Iten, Kenya, sits 8,000 feet above sea level, making it a famed training ground for aspiring competitive cyclists. Could this town produce the first all-Black team to enter (and win) the Tour de France?
Africa is a predominantly Catholic continent — with the number of adherents growing more than 200 percent since 1980. So while Kenyans follow suit, with 70 percent of the the population identifying as Christian, 25 percent belong to indigenous religions, 6 percent are Muslim and, within the Asian community, you’ll find Hindus, Sikhs, Parsees and Bahais.
4 - Cuppa Joe
Although coffee is a major export from Kenya, tea is the more popular beverage of choice in most homes. But that may be changing as coffee shops pop up everywhere, winning over caffeinated drinkers and redefining coffee culture.
5 - Afropop
Since forming in 2005, Sauti Sol has played venues from South Africa to London to Austin’s SXSW. The Kenyan band may sing in English, but their sound and powerful vocals have far-ranging influences, including Malian singer Salif Keita, American vocalist Jason Mraz and Brit band Coldplay.
She holds a pair of notable firsts: the first woman in East Africa to earn a doctorate and the first woman in Kenya to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1986 Maathai created the Pan African Green Belt Network, an NGO focused on environmental conservation and women’s rights. Elected to Parliament in 2003, she served as assistant minister for environment and natural resources before her death in 2011.
2 - Boniface Mwangi
It is a transformation noteworthy of Clark Kent to Superman! Once, Boniface was described as an introverted staff cameraman. Today, he’s a fierce activist and founder of creative hub Pawa 254, using his artistic license to subvert political authority and promote a new political culture. He’s the change he wants for his country, and until it arrives, he’ll keep speaking truth to power and holding those in power accountable.
3 - Gina Din-Kariuki
She counts the rich and famous among her friends, has more awards in PR than any other African and with the word “Boss” prominently displayed on her desk, there’s no doubt who’s running the show. Her company, Gina Din Group, has helped transform some of the country’s biggest brands, including Safaricom and the Kenya Red Cross, into household names. Now she is on a mission to change the way the world perceives her continent.
4 - Geoffrey Siwo
As an undergraduate, he taught himself to use computers and the internet to analyze DNA sequences and to propose a new avenue of HIV drug resistance. Today the biologist and computer scientist is at Notre Dame, developing new ways of assessing the effectiveness and safety of gene-editing technologies across individual human populations with an emphasis on Africans.
So, are you ready for your visit to Kenya? Take the quiz below to test your knowledge.
What is the capital of Kenya?
What are the official spoken languages in Kenya?
English and Swahili
What’s a food that’s commonly eaten in Kenya?
Ackee and codfish
Sharon fruit gumbo
How did Kenya innovate the toilet?
Made it smaller
Made it larger
It consumes less water
It uses no water
Which person won a Nobel Peace Prize?
What is the preferred beverage for most Kenyans?
English and Swahili
It consumes less water
What to read:
Unbowed by Wangari Maathai: The memoir of the first African woman, and the first environmentalist, to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Unbowed charts Maathai’s path starting as a young girl in British Kenya to the divorced mother of three fighting to save her country from a corrupt dictator.
West With the Night by Beryl Markham: You may know Markham as the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from Europe to America. In her autobiography, she begins well before that famous flight, as a girl born in Britain who grew up in colonial Kenya during the 1920s and ’30s. From training racehorses to tracking elephants, Markham led a life defined by adventure and natural beauty.
JusKidding Podcast: Hosted by Chaxy and Ayrosh, this podcast focuses on upcoming stars. Past interviews include Kioko from Kioko Art Gallery and Porgie from Mookh, sharing stories that inspire hope and encouragement for fellow creatives.
Just Another Male Podcast: Also known as JAMP, this podcast has a pair of co-hosts who tackle current affairs and the daily hustle of being a man in modern-day Nairobi. It is a fun listen that can really jump-start an ordinary day.
You probably remember Ronnie Stanley as the guy who became the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL one day then got a season-ending ankle injury the next. But did you know he started his own foundation dedicated to dogs? Stanley is a man of many passions, and as he heals from his injuries he's ready to talk about them all. In today's episode, watch Ronnie sit down with Carlos Watson and reflect on his lifetime in the limelight, from kid wonder to NFL superstar. To listen to the full, unedited conversation between Carlos and Ronnie Stanley, subscribe to the podcast version of the show here: http://podcasts.iheartradio.com/s_34Zjdh
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