By Msimbi Shuman
Jambo! Hello! Welcome to Kenya, one of the most well-known travel destinations in all of Africa. Every summer tens of thousands of tourist from around the world arrive to visit Kenya’s safari programs. Historically, Kenya has been known as the cradle of humanity.
The East African country is famous for its extraordinary wildlife and breathtaking Indian Ocean beaches. The port of Mombasa is one of the finest ports on the entire east coast of Africa and serves as a port of call for U.S. naval vessels. It is strategically located for shipping and cargo handling.
And this deep ocean harbor is considered to be the sea gate to Africa. Mombasa receives goods destined for all the surrounding countries of east Africa. It serves other nations as a source of transportation and trade. Kenya became an independent republic in 1964 after being under British rule for many decades. Jomo Kenyatta became the first president of an independent Kenya.
Today Kenya is a democratic nation. The official languages of Kenya are Kiswahili and English. The geographical background of Kenya is rather unique in that the equator divides Kenya exactly in half. The country is blessed with a wide variety of landscapes from savannas to forests to mountain ranges, Kenya has it all.
The country is well known for its African safaris that feature viewing hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, antelope, zebra, giraffe, and other exotic animals. Mount Kenya is the highest mountain peak in the country The city of Mombasa, on the east coast, is rather hot and humid with temperatures averaging around 90 degrees.
Nairobi, the nation’s capital city, is located midway between east and west national boundaries in the southern part of the country. The city’s name means “cool” in Masai language. Because it is located among foothills, the mornings and evenings can be a bit chilly. The average temperature is around 72 degrees.
Kisumu, near the western border with Uganda, is situated on Lake Nyanza, one of the great lakes of east Africa. It has pleasant temperatures year round. The area is well known for a great variety of seafood. Kenya has even been called the “garden of Eden” due to its beauty and anthropological research by Dr. Leakey.
Because of the many ancient fossils unearthed by the famous anthropologist, Kenya is considered the likely birthplace of mankind. Today, Kenya still plays host to a large number of social and physical scientists who are still uncovering new evidence in the Great Rift Valley regarding man’s earliest history. The republic of Kenya is home to one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in the world.
The beauty of Kenya speaks for itself. There are magnificent pink flamingos at Lake Nakuru, and exotic animals such as lions, elephants, gazelles, cheetahs and leopards just to name a few. Some of the things you can enjoy are handmade artifacts and learning the customs of the country. When traveling to Kenya, like any other foreign destination, it’s important to consider the do’s and don’ts and things and actions that are considered proper and traditionally acceptable or unacceptable.
I suggest you do some homework …read, ask questions or get information form the Kenyan Embassy. Proper documents such as visa and passport as well as immunization health records are required. Your travel agent can also be helpful in giving tips. As in any foreign destination, do not overly expose your money or valuables.
The American Embassy is located in Nairobi, if you should need it. Preferably, try to establish some local Kenya contacts before leaving. Kenyans are friendly people, willing to assist visiting foreigners. A local tour guide will be best for a real experience.
Being aware of your surroundings and using common sense is your safest bet. Many Americans prefer to drink bottled water, although in the major cities the water supply is safe and more than adequate for drinking and bathing.
While in Mombasa, you may want to see The Roman Catholic Cathedral and Star of the Sea famous international high school that I attended.
If you are on the east coast please be sure to visit Malindi. Its coast is just breathtaking and it is home to many exotic marine animals. And for those who love it, excellent snorkeling is available. I hope this information will inspire you and ignite your desire to visit Kenya, land of a very proud and hardworking people.
Stay tuned! Kwaheri (goodbye) Msimbi Adira Shuman, a native of Kenya and a Toledo resident since the mid 1970’s, is the executive director of Kenyan American Missionary Connection. The foundation provides various services such as orientation, Swahili language and information regarding the opportunities that exist for volunteers and donors.