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


Blogger egm said...

Thanks for the facts. I will add these to my ammunition as well!

One thing tho... it is actually Kwanzaa, not Kwanza. They added the a to Kwanza to let it have seven letters corresponding to the seven principles of the holiday. This wiki has more on it...

Happy Madaraka Day to you as well!

6/01/2006 02:57:00 am  
Anonymous mshairi said...

Where are people mentioning nyama choma left right and centre?:)

Great post!

Happy Madaraka Day to you too!

6/01/2006 03:18:00 am  
Anonymous mama mia said...

Wow - the Ghost and the Darkness was a true story?! It was scary enough watchin' it as fiction, now .....

Happy Madaraka Day to you too.

6/01/2006 08:52:00 am  
Anonymous Mentalacrobatics said...

I enjoy telling my British friends that they would not have their queen if it was not for us :-)

Thank you for the facts!

Happy Madaraka Day!

6/01/2006 09:56:00 am  
Blogger Kabinti said...

Didn't know about that Gabon viper deal. And the way i was passing through that forest one day and marvelling at its beauty! Snakes creep me out. Happy Madaraka Day to you!

6/01/2006 02:46:00 pm  
Blogger Prousette said...

@mshairi any kenyan celebration and nyama choma are kissing cousins.

Thank you aunty uaridi for enlightening me and have a lovely madaraka day.

6/01/2006 02:47:00 pm  
Blogger akiey said...

Happy Madaraka Day Dada Uaridi! These facts make me want to refer all those asking weird Qs about Kenya to come take notes right here.

I've been asked about and told stories about Kip Keino by Americans from nearly every state I visited. He did us proud & helped market the nation.

6/01/2006 02:56:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an Ethiopian, we share not only borders but runners and "cradle of mankind" history:) Been to Nairobi a few times, love it! A stop at "Carnivor" is a must. You forgot "Survivor Africa!" may be that is just an American show. You have a lot more going for your country! Hakuna Matata!

6/01/2006 05:20:00 pm  
Blogger Stephen Bess said...

I'll admit that I usually thought of Kenyans as the people who win all the marathons. :)Thank you so much for these additional facts about Kenya. Although, I remember feeling some pride the first time I witnessed an African winning a marathon. I felt kinship.

Happy Madaraka Day!!

6/01/2006 05:30:00 pm  
Blogger Darius said...

Yeah, but the running is still pretty cool...

Good post, didn't know most of that.

Did you know that:

Many American citizens can't stand George Bush and consider him the best evidence that we really did evolve from monkeys? Of course that's not what the theory of evolution actually says, but Bush makes a strong personal statement, in word and deed, for a new theory of Unintelligent Design.

6/01/2006 06:19:00 pm  
Blogger Girl next door said...

I didn't know most of those facts, now I'll be happy to share them. Happy Madaraka Day!

6/02/2006 01:49:00 am  
Anonymous Niece said...

Auntie, wow, not only are you a gem, but a gem of resourceful information too.
Have to admit tht I didnt know some of the info above, will print it out and hang it on my wall, just so I have quick fire answers to those 'stupid questions' that I have to contend with on the regular.

@Darius above - LOLOL hmm .. er.. concur

6/02/2006 09:45:00 am  
Anonymous Mama JunkYard said...

Sorry to get here so late...I was following the blogs in alphabetical order (though I had to break that and stop by Mshairi's to congratulate you both on your podcast!)

Love the facts on Kenya! There is so much more to our country than running and safari.

6/02/2006 12:22:00 pm  
Blogger gishungwa said...

looove the shoma had some jana woiye will have a cold tusker for you now as i head home.
love the singing! belated happy madaraka day

6/02/2006 04:42:00 pm  
Blogger iamnasra said...

Thank you for the info about Kenya ..Though Im african I too very ignorant when it comes to africa

6/02/2006 09:25:00 pm  
Blogger Valedon said...

This is nice. Now I can 'flaunt' my kenyanness backep p with fact.
Thank you.
I do think God would bless you and I would still love you if you were not a blogger...probably.
Have a lovely day!!

6/03/2006 03:36:00 pm  
Blogger Archer said...

I thought I knew a lot about my beloved country but I have to admit that I didnt know some of these facts, like the Gabon viper being in my shagz! Great post.

6/03/2006 05:11:00 pm  
Blogger Ruben said...

I would love to visit Kenya to see it's beautiful people and landscapes.

6/05/2006 01:18:00 pm  
Blogger Valedon said...

Good wouldnt exist without bad, love wouldnt exist without hate.
Therefore, for a blogger like you to be loved and blessed,some other blogger must be unloved and unblessed.
But, relative to the XXX-ers and hate spewers, aren't people like you and me (aka 'good' bloggers) also 'unloved' and 'unblessed'?
Have a lovely day.

6/06/2006 01:46:00 pm  
Blogger Darius said...

Niece: Yeah... George. He's a very religious man, you know, as well as so scientific what with proving UD (Unintelligent Design.) He also incarnates the mystery of how one person can be both fully human and fully ignorant. You know, like most of us, after more than 6 years, would get at least half a clue about how the wider world works?

Valedon: But you must be very careful with your pronounciation of, 'flaunt' my kenyanness," don't you think?

6/06/2006 05:34:00 pm  
Blogger gautami tripathy said...

Wow! Thanks! We all needed to know these facts! You have whetted my appetite for more!

6/17/2006 05:39:00 pm  
Anonymous mentalacrobatics said...

Consider yourself tagged:

6/18/2006 03:24:00 pm  
Blogger spicebear said...

hey uaridi, you have officially been tagged!

6/18/2006 10:41:00 pm  
Blogger Brother Jero (BJ) said...

Hi Auntie, why the silence.

Talk to me...

6/27/2006 07:39:00 pm  
Blogger Brother Jero (BJ) said...

Auntie - niike. Don't be too quiet. Things will be just fine.

Trust me. Wishing you a good weekend.

7/07/2006 01:35:00 pm  
Blogger Adrian said...

thanks for these facts.

that one about the average kalenjing outrunning the rest of the world is - wow!

7/27/2006 01:47:00 am  
Blogger mdkims said...

kenya nchi yangu ... kenya nchi yangu i have stopped celebrating madaraka day like a true patriot ... when i was a kid i was always so much eager ... need to fire up that patriotic flame

8/04/2006 10:01:00 am  
Blogger Klara said...

WoW! Interesting facts on Kenya.Had no idea, My knowledge on my counry must be poor!
Thanx for sharing

4/30/2007 10:38:00 am  
Blogger Natalie B said...

Thanks for the info! I'm currently taking a Swahili course and hope to travel to Kenya in the near future, so I really enjoyed reading your post.

5/08/2007 06:41:00 am  
Anonymous grace said...

great post, will link to it on my blog. Happy Madaraka Day

5/31/2007 11:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info.

We share your frustration about the ignorance that people have about Kenya and Africa for that matter.

That's why Ladha Ya Kenya, a non-profit organization, came up with a television show to promote Kenyan communities at home and in the diaspora.

Visit us at

to see our television show about the Kenyan community in Kenya and in the U.S.A.

6/02/2007 05:59:00 pm  

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