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REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL… and why Kenyans should take pride in their country

Mt. Kenya

Many books about life in Africa take such a negative view of the continent. They always seem to be about violence, drudgery, poverty and abuse. The Forum editorial team was also a bit taken aback by some of the negative comments by some readers, particularly one in answer to the question “What is it about Kenya that you are proud of?” He or she answered, ‘We are proud of it for nothing…’

Well, OK, Kenyan drivers defy logic and Matatu drivers beggar belief and yes life can be tough but the dismal picture of Kenya and Africa so often painted is a far cry from the country, the continent and the people that we know and love. So here are just a few reasons for Kenyans to be cheerful (which invariably they are) and to take great pride in their country.

Kenya is now embracing democracy and freedom and has overwhelmingly voted in a new constitution, and in Vision 2030 it has at least set out its long term aspirations to raise the standard of living, develop a more just society and a more accountable, political process.

KENYA’S GROWING ECONOMY

Kenya’s economy is growing and its capital Nairobi has become the ‘regional’ hub for doing business in East Africa and beyond. Where once people talked of the leading Sub-Saharan African countries as being South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana, now they always add Kenya to the top four.

It’s not just the country’s capital city that is a magnate for businesses and international agencies. Kenya produces some of the best coffee and tea in the world and supplies many countries with superb vegetables, fruit and flowers.

KENYA, A BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY

Kenyans also live in one of the most beautiful and interesting countries in the world.

Wildebeest - Migration

The annual migration of wildebeest has been described as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” (and for anyone who has ever seen it for real, it is); the Maasai Mara is renowned throughout the world for its wildlife and stunning scenery; and how many capital cities in the world have a National Park that hosts lions, rhino, zebra, giraffes, and baboons, or anything like it, right on their doorstep?

Kenya is a bird-watchers paradise boasting some 1,000 indigenous species and people travel from all over the world to fish for marlin, sailfish and tuna, some of the best deep-sea fishing anywhere to be found. The country’s beautiful coastline, from the white sands of Diani beach to the coastal town of Malindi, up to exotic Lamu, has it all, including superb sea food!

Come inland and the view of Mount Kenya from the Aberdares on a clear day takes the breath away. And try flying up the Great Rift Valley, looking down on Mount Longonot and not be awed by its sheer size, beauty and majesty.

KENYA: THE GARDEN OF EDEN?

That’s not all to be inspired about by the Rift Valley. Think of it; some 4 million years ago, somewhere in the Rift Valley from Kenya to Ethiopia, early Man stood up and began the spread of mankind to the rest of the world. How about being from the country that is the source of human evolution? Not bad?

The highly intelligent Kenyan Diaspora has spread out across the world, enriching it in the process. One of its sons even became the first African-American President of the United States.

KENYA’S DIVERSE PEOPLES AND CULTURES

If you are looking for interesting history try visiting Fort Jesus the 16th century fort standing in Mombasa’s Old Town, or the port’s 15th century Gedi ruins; and the Takwa ruins on Manda Island just off Lamu.

Kenya’s diverse peoples and cultures, something else to be proud of, have helped to produce this fascinating country but there must be some other secret ingredient in the air or the water that can explain the country’s sporting prowess.

KENYAN ATHLETICISM – SOMETHING IN THE AIR?

Kenya’s long-distance athletes are the best in the world, so good that they have taken first, second and third in the London marathon and have been banned from at least one marathon in Holland to give others the chance to win! Think long-distance athletics and the names Paul Tergat, Catherine Nyambura Ndereba, Bernard Lagat, the late Samuel Kamau Wanjiru and of course “Kip” Keino immediately spring to mind, and that innate athleticism may explain why Kenya also produces some of the best rugby sevens players in the world.

KENYANS: SOME OF THE MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE IN THE WORLD

Kenya's beautiful Coastline

Wahome Mutahi, in his hilarious book, How to be a Kenyan, wrote that despite many changes over the years Kenyans “have continued to be their distinctive selves. They still defy warnings, imagine that there is nothing like a natural death and take rumours to be truer than the truth’. It would take a mutation, suggested Muthahi, for this to change and that if it did, ‘the world will lose some of the most interesting inhabitants it has ever had.’

The Forum wholeheartedly agrees with Wahome Mutahi. Despite many difficulties Kenya’s indomitable people battle on, usually with a smile on their face. So keep on smiling Kenya, you have many reasons to be cheerful and proud.

PS, The Forum welcomes readers’ suggestions as to other reasons to feel good about Kenya and why not cheer a Kenyan friend (or two) up today by sending them the link to this article.

President Kenyatta declared winner.

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