East African state (610,000 km²). Capital: Nairobi. Administrative division: provinces (8). Population: 42,749,418 (2012 estimate). Language: Swahili (official), English. Religion: Protestants 47.7%, Catholics 23.5%, other Christians 11.9%, Muslims 11.2%, animists / traditional beliefs 1.7%, others 4%. Currency unit: Kenyan shilling (100 cents). Human Development Index: 0.535 (147th place). Borders: Ethiopia and Sudan (N), Somalia (NE), Indian Ocean (SE), Niger, Tanzania (S), Uganda (W). Member of: Commonwealth, EAC, UN, AU and WTO, EU associate.
The vast field of traditional oral literature still remains largely unexplored: the capital works in this sense are Facing Mount Kenya (1938; Facing Mount Kenya) by Jomo Kenyatta, for the Kikuyu, and JS Mbiti’s studies on kamba tribe. Many writers use the Bantu languages for modern works, which however are linked to tradition: MN Kabetu and Y. Ulenge write in Kikuyu, S. Mabo in Luo, JS Mbiti and Th. M. Ngotho in Kamba. A literary flowering in English, already outlined in the fifties and sixties of the twentieth century, reached full maturity in the seventies. The narrative, starting with Land of Sunshine (1958) by Muga Gicaru (b.1920), predominates and asserts itself also in the international field with Ngugi wa Thiongo (b.1938), the best known and admired writer of West Africa, but presents other writers of good level, such as Mugo Gatheru (b. 1925), Grace Ogot (b. 1930), K. Asalache (1935-2006), Miriam Were (b. 1940), who idealize precolonial Africa; JM Kariuki (1929-1975), G. Wachira (b.1936), L. Kibera (b.1942), S. Kahiha (b.1946), M. Mwangi (b.1948), who deal with the most current topic of the Mau-mau uprising. In the seventies some authors opposed the ancient traditional societies to the current corruption and collapse (K. Watene, n. 1944; JN Mwaura, n. 1941), but we are also witnessing the birth of an “urban novel”, which deals with new themes. The main representatives of this trend are Mwangi, with a journalistic style, direct and hard, Kibera and C. Mangua (b. 1939), author of picaresque novels. In the seventies also two valuable authors such as Grace Ogot and Rebeka Njau (b. 1932) assert themselves. Poetry has many authors. The most important is J. Angira (b. 1947), now an intimist, now a violent and bitter critic of society. JS Mbiti (b. 1931) stands out for his religious inspiration. Western-style theater asserted itself in the 1960s, with Ngugi and MG Mugo creating popular itinerant shows; more mature, in the 1970s it reveals political, social and cultural conflicts. In the Eighties we first witness a qualitative decline; but starting from 1987 there is a clear recovery. The narrative reveals a state of tension and frustration in the face of social and political reality. Coming to Birth. The same malaise is found in poetry, which presents a tendency to philosophical meditation or to escape into the contemplation of nature. The theater deals with the problems of political power and the situation of women. Nonfiction sees Ngugi in the foreground who, with Decolonizing the Mind (1986), supports the cause of cultural afrocentrism. Important studies by the sociologist and political scientist Ali Mazrui, who goes beyond the borders of his homeland in an African and world perspective. Among the contemporary writers, Meja Mwangi (b. 1948), who also deals with cinema (screenwriter and stage assistant), with a lively and amusing vein, is worth mentioning. His Carcase for Hounds (1974) won the Kenyatta Award; among his most recent books, The Boy Gift (2006) and Mama Dudu: the Insect Woman (2007). Other interesting authors are Marjorie Oludhe Magoye (The Present Moment; 1987) and Binyavanga Wainaina (b. 1971), writer and journalist.
As one of countries starting with K according to COUNTRYAAH.COM, Kenya is inscribed in an area, the central area of East Africa, where you can find a pleasant handicraft production. Among the most creative groups are the Kikuyu farmers, where there is a production of carved poles that generally represent images of ancestors and the Masai shepherds, who have leather shields painted with tribal symbols and emblems of value, milk jars adorned with pearls, leather cloaks and iron spears. The coastal area of Kenya falls, as far as the artistic field is concerned, in a particular discourse, as it was exposed for centuries to Arab, Persian, Indian and Indonesian influences.