Thursday, June 01, 2006

Madaraka Day!!!

In my travels, I have had people gush at me about Kenya, the animals and our fast runners to nauseating details. Their knowledge of Kenya is limited to only those two things.

To save myself from drastic and probable litigation (for instance giving them a vicious left hook), I gathered the following facts about Kenya, first to celebrate Madaraka Day with my KBW family, and secondly to serve as my personal ammo next time someone says to me, “Ah Kenya, I want to go on a “safari” to see the “animals”, or "you Kenyans are such fast “runners”". I will dazzle them back with these facts:

Did you know that?

• Kenya is sometimes called the 'cradle of humanity' because archaeological finds in the Rift Valley include some of the oldest known records of mankind’s history on earth? These include the Austropithicus amamenis, Orroin tugenisis, and Kenythropus.

• In AD 930, Claudius Ptolemy drew a map of the East Coast of Africa which showed the Kenya coast pinpointing Lamu, Malindi and Mombasa (Latin names were ignored)

• The movie the Ghost and the Darkness is based on a true story of two man eating lions at Tsavo that terrorised workers building a bridge for the Kenya-Uganda railway in 1898-99?

• That several movies have been shot in Kenya, including “King Solomon’s Mines”, “Mogambo”, “Out of Africa”, “The African Queen” and the Joy Adamson stories?

• The word “safari” is a Swahili word that means journey or to travel?

• That the names “Simba”, “Shenzi” and “Rafiki” are Swahili words used in Disney’s “Lion King”?

• The African American holiday of Kwanza derives its name from the Swahili word –which means first or beginning?

• That the British learnt to counteract guerrilla warfare when they fought the Mau Mau?

• That before the Lion King “borrowed” the song “Hakuna Matata” it was famous on its own merit in Kenya?

• The word Harambee, means “pulling together”, and is the Kenyan motto?

• That the song “Malaika” was composed by Fadhili Williams, and was made famous by Miriam Makeba?

• Lamu, a World Heritage site, is Kenya's oldest town? (see Ptolemy)

• The largest viper, the Gabon Viper, can be found in the Kakamega Forest? (Not my favourite fact)

• That in February 1952, Princess Elizabeth and her husband visited Kenya, and while at the Treetops Hotel, her father died making her Queen Elizabeth 11 giving rise to the quote “the princess who went up a tree and came down a queen”?

• The most famous runner, Kip Keino introduced the world to Kenyan runners during the 1968 Olympics when he defeated the legendary American runner Jim Ryun in the 1,500 meters race?

• Although most of us are irritated when people expect us to do well at sports, experts in every sporting and genetic field have carried out studies to see why Kenyans, in particular Kalenjins are so fast. In fact, some genetic experts say that the average Kalenjin could outran 90% of the rest of the human race. This is a fact that we can be proud of, after all they bring us all the gold, silver and bronze medals.

There you are - enough to dumbfound the next gusher. By all means let them come to Kenya, but please, please take note all visitors there is more to Kenya than animals and runners!!!!

HAPPY MADARAKA DAY TO EVERYONE (I wish I were home enjoying a cold Tusker and nyama choma!!!)

Some Resources