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Lesson Transcript

Medina: Hi everyone! Welcome back to SwahiliPod101.com! I’m Medina.
Joshua: And I’m Joshua. This is All About, Lesson 8 - Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Kenyan Society. In this lesson, we are going to tell you more about life in Kenya.

Lesson focus

Medina: There are so many aspects to Kenyan society, it's hard to know where to begin! But since the title of this lesson is "Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Kenyan Society," I picked five topics.
Joshua: Which are?
Medina: Major cities and city life, family life in Kenya, Kenyan work culture, and generational trends.
Joshua: OK, why don't we start with city life? Most Kenyans live in cities after all.
Joshua: Good idea! We'll start with three major Kenyan cities - Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu.
Medina: Sounds great! The first one, Nairobi, is located in the South central area of Kenya.
Joshua: With a population of just over three million, Nairobi is the political capital of the country, and also the tourist capital.
Medina: Nairobi is famous for the Nairobi National park - one of Kenya's most successful black rhino sanctuaries, which has its own wildebeest migration, and more than 400 species of bird.
Joshua: Good museums include the Nairobi National Museum, and the Karen Blixen Museum.
Medina: And don’t miss a visit to the Carnivore restaurant for a variety of wildly interesting dishes.
Joshua: And if you’re interested in seeing how some of the city's inhabitants live, visit Nairobi’s Kibera Slum.
Medina: Alright, and moving on, what can you tell us about Mombasa?
Joshua: Well, it’s located in the Southeastern part of the country. It’s the second largest city in Kenya, and East Africa’s largest port and Kenya’s main tourist hub.
Medina: It’s incredible, isn’t it!?
Joshua: Yes, it’s one of the most significant towns, not only for the imports and exports, but also as a major destination for tourists visiting Kenya.
Medina: If Nairobi weren’t the the capital of Kenya, Mombasa would definitely be the top tourism spot.
Joshua: That said, Mombasa’s location is not all that favorable, even if it is beautiful. It’s an island that’s far away from most places in Kenya, unlike Nairobi, which is at the centre.
Medina: Moving on, tell us what Kisumu has to offer.
Joshua: Kisumu is one of the fastest growing cities in Kenya. It is thriving from its sugar and rice industries.
Medina: It contributes a lot to the National economy because of its natural resources, and because it’s the centre of business in East Africa.
Joshua: Kisumu has a lot of interesting places to visit. One of these is the Kisumu Museum, which has many outdoor pavilions to see.
Medina: Many of these are home to aquariums and terrariums, where you can see fish, or snakes such as mambas, spitting cobra, puff adders, and other venomous Kenyan snakes.
Joshua: But the museum's most important and largest exhibition is the UNESCO-sponsored Ber-gi-dala. This is a full-scale recreation of a traditional Luo homestead.
Medina: One other interesting feature of Kisumu is the Kit Mikayi, a large rock with three rocks on top, meaning “Stones of the first wife.” It’s known as a weeping rock.
Joshua: It’s believed that Mikayi - literally, "the first wife" - went up the hill to the stones when her husband took a second wife, and has been weeping ever since.
Medina: Listeners, make sure you go and see it!
Joshua: Probably the number 1 thing you need to know about Kenyan cities, is that they are full of contradiction.
Medina: Nairobi is now one of the most prominent cities in Africa.
Joshua: But many terrible things have happened in the heart of this city. A 1998 terrorist attack left more than two hundred Kenyans dead and many others injured. It left a mark on Kenya. Al-Shabab, Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked militant group, is suspected of increasing the intensity of terrorism. But, Kenya's capital has increased security measures to try to curb it.
Medina: Bombings have also happened in Mombasa. The local government has also taken steps there to ensure that the general public feels safe. Kisumu is different to the other two cities, though.
Joshua: Because it’s on a plain, it’s prone to flooding during heavy rainfall.
Medina: The rainy seasons that run from March to August can ruin vacations, and even cause injuries.
Joshua: But in recent years, the local government has improved the drainage system.
Medina: If you have any problems while you’re in Kenya, you should report to the nearest authorities.
Joshua: Moving on, let’s talk about family life.
Medina: Well, it depends a lot on which nationality and traditions the family has. Usually though, Kenyan families tend to be very open-minded and forgiving.
Joshua: Kenyan families aren’t that tightly knit, they’re more individualistic, but they are very loving.
Medina: If you live in a small place in Kenya, the neighbors are almost an extended part of the family.
Joshua: Yes, although Kenyans like to keep to themselves, they usually socialize with their neighbors a lot, often so much that they borrow stuff from each other, or invite neighbors over for dinners.
Medina: Now on to the work culture and the economy. What are they like?
Joshua: Kenya's economy is market-based, with a few state-owned infrastructure enterprises. It has a well-maintained liberal external trade system.
Medina: Where does it lie among the African countries?
Joshua: With the highest GDP, it’s generally perceived as East- and central Africa's hub for most services, including Financial, Communication and Transportation services.
Medina: Kenya’s economic growth is thanks to expansions in tourism, telecommunications, transport, construction, and a recovery in agriculture.
Joshua: There is also a large pool of English-speaking professionals that contribute to Kenya’s economic improvement.
Medina: That’s right.
Joshua: Has the improved economy also increased salaries?
Medina: That’s a good question, and one of the most sensitive in Kenya. It may surprise you to hear that Kenyan members of parliament are among the world's best-paid politicians.
Joshua: After tax, they each earn over $100 thousand. The MPs' basic pay is $44 thousand a year. But they also have numerous perks and allowances, including $370 a day for turning up in parliament.
Joshua: That means the average Kenyan is earning well too, right?
Medina: That’s where the irony comes in. The average annual income in Kenya is about $1130, while most of the population earns less than $5 a day!
Joshua: Really? That’s ridiculous!
Medina: Actually, 23 percent live on less than US$1 per day. 38 million people heavily depend on agriculture, which is vulnerable to world price fluctuations.
Joshua: So sad to hear. What about politics in Kenya?
Medina: Kenya is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, where the President is both the head of state and head of government.
Joshua: I remember seeing a lot of news about the political instability during the 2007 general election.
Medina: It’s a long story, but I will try to summarize it. The 2007 presidential elections were largely believed to have been flawed, and international observers said that they didn’t meet regional or international standards.
Joshua: Did they say the tallying process was unfair?
Medina: Most observers suggest that it unfairly advantaged the incumbent president Mwai Kibaki, despite overwhelming indications that his rival and the then Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, won the election.
Joshua: Around the election, there was violence that led to the deaths of almost 1,000 people and the displacement of almost 600,000. But a diplomatic solution was achieved later, when the two rivals were united in a grand coalition government after international mediation, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Joshua: It seems like Kofi Annan came just at the right time.
Medina: Most Kenyans agree and are very grateful for the courageous step he took. After the agreement, power was shared between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister, Raila Odinga. Several steps were recommended to ensure stability and peace for the Nation during the negotiations that led to the formation of the Coalition government.
Joshua: I can imagine it took a lot of effort.
Medina: One memorable step was the adoption of a new constitution, which came into force after Kenyans voted for it on August 4, 2010.
Joshua: A great relief and a great achievement.
Medina: As a I speak, Kenya is one of the most peaceful places in Africa. It harbors refugees from, neighbouring countries such as Somalia and Sudan.


Joshua: Ok, well, that brings us to the end of our glimpse into Kenyan society. We hope you learned a lot! We certainly covered a lot of information.
Medina: Please join us for the next lesson.
Joshua: See you next time!
Medina: Kwa heri

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