Kenyan Americans

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Editor: Thomas Riggs
Date: 2014
Publisher: Gale, a Cengage Company
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Kenyan Americans

Laura C. Rudolph


Kenyan Americans are immigrants or descendants of people from Kenya, a country in eastern Africa. It is bordered to the north by Ethiopia and South Sudan, to the east by the Indian Ocean, to the northeast by Somalia, to the south by Tanzania, and to the west by Uganda. Kenya's total land area is 224,960 square miles (582,650 square kilometers), about a third larger than the state of California.

According to the 2009 Kenyan census, the country had a population of more than 43 million people. The country's official languages are Kiswahili and English. About 28 percent of Kenyans are Roman Catholic, 38 percent Protestant, and 7 percent Muslim; much of the remaining population holds indigenous religious beliefs, and there are a small number of Hindus, Sikhs, and Baha'is. Kenya has three major cultural and linguistic groups: the Bantu, Nilotic, and Cushitic. A poor country with a predominantly agricultural economy, Kenya nevertheless has a small but important industrial sector, and the country serves as an economic hub in eastern Africa. The tourism industry is also economically important in Kenya; in 2006, for example, tourism brought in $803 million to the national economy. Tourism ranks second to agriculture in revenue, attracting people from all over the world to see the game parks and reserves, the Indian Ocean beaches, and other natural wonders of Kenya.

The earliest Kenyans in the United States were most likely slaves and would have arrived between 1620 and 1808, when the U.S. Constitution called for an end to the importation of slaves. Voluntary settlement remained negligible until the last decades of the twentieth century. Recently Kenyans have been motivated to immigrate to the United States by educational opportunities, as well as by poor economic conditions and political unrest in their native country. Kenyans possess a distinct advantage over many other U.S. immigrants in that they are already fluent in English. This is one of the factors that has allowed them join the American workforce quickly and also achieve high levels of education.

According to the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., about 87,000 Kenyan immigrants were living in the United States in 2011 (approximately 6 percent of all African immigrants), not including Kenyans with student visas. Kenyan Americans have migrated most notably to Texas, California, parts of the Midwest, and Washington, D.C. Two states with important technological centers, Georgia and North Carolina, have also been attractive destinations for Kenyan immigrants.


Early History Throughout the first few centuries CE, Kenya was the destination of numerous migrating tribes that established themselves in various areas. The Kalenjin settled around the western part of what became Kenya, while the Kikuyu covered the fertile ground of the Highlands and the Rift Valley. Each group was a self-contained community with its own language, customs, and beliefs.

Arabs settled on the Kenyan coast as early as the tenth century, and the Portuguese contested for the coast during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Arabs regained control during the eighteenth century, and by the early to mid-nineteenth centuries, Sayyid Said of Oman loosely controlled the coast. By this time Africa's largely untapped wealth attracted scores of Europeans, and in 1885 Africa was partitioned into several sectors controlled by various European nations.

Modern Era The British government established Kenya as a British protectorate in 1895 and a crown colony in 1920. The British quickly built a railroad that promoted economic development by linking the regions together; the rights of Africans were restricted, while white settlement was encouraged. The Africans were overtaxed undereducated, and lacked political representation. In addition, they were not allowed to grow certain exportable crops and could not settle in the Highlands and the Rift Valley, regarded as the richest farmland in the country. In many instances tribal peoples were forced to relocate to designated areas in Kenya.

During World War I a large number of Kenyan soldiers were recruited to fight for the British. Following the war many Africans, particularly the Kikuyus, who had lost much of their land, began organizing to lobby for reform. One such group, the East African Association (EAA), encouraged protests and demonstrations. Although the EAA dissolved Page 2  |  Top of Articleshortly thereafter, the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA) quickly took its place and continued the fight against white supremacy. The KCA lobbied for political representation, lower taxes, and the right to inhabit restricted lands. Although the organization enjoyed some success, it was unable to achieve its goals before it was banned in 1940, shortly after World War II began. However, the KCA helped pave the way for future organizations, which would ultimately achieve independence for Kenya.

World War II provided the impetus Kenya needed to achieve independence. Many Kenyans fought in the war, and they learned both organizational and military skills. In 1944 the Kenyan African Union (largely comprised of Kikuyus) was formed to continue the fight against white supremacy. In 1947 Jomo Kenyatta was elected the president of the KAU. Although most members were Kikuyus, they encouraged all ethnic groups to join together to achieve independence.

Other Kenyans, frustrated with the slow response to their demands, turned to more violent means. The Mau Mau uprising of 1952–1956 was characterized by numerous acts of violence and terrorism against the colonial government and settlers. Brutally suppressed, the uprising left thousands of Africans dead, while only a handful of British were killed.

The Mau Mau uprising was not wholly unsuccessful. In response to changes occurring throughout European-dominated countries across Africa, the colonial government was ready to capitulate in Kenya. Africans were allowed representation in the government, and they continued to lobby to gain autonomy. In 1960 they formed the Kenya African National Union (KANU). However, political infighting between the dominant Kikuyus and other groups led to the formation of a rival party, the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU).

In 1962 the two parties laid aside their differences and united to form a coalition government. Jomo Kenyatta was elected the first prime minister. Kenya was officially declared independent on December 12, 1963, and became a republic in 1964. Shortly thereafter the KADU dissolved, and Kenya was ruled chiefly by the KANU until 1966, when the Kenya People's Union (KPU) was formed.

From the start, the KPU was at odds with the KANU and did not gain much support beyond the Luo peoples. The group was ordered to disband after an important member of government personnel was assassinated, a crime that was attributed to the KPU. The Kenyan government, largely under Kikuyu control, turned its attention to ongoing social and economic problems. In an effort to boost their flagging economy, they welcomed foreign investors, and Kenya rapidly became the most prosperous country in East Africa.

Although Kenya was fearful that its political stability would be shaken by the death of Jomo Kenyatta in 1978, Daniel Arap Moi succeeded without challenge. In 1982 the Royal Air Force staged a coup attempt, but Moi remained in office. In 1991, largely at the urging of foreign investors, Moi pledged to further address social and economic problems and encouraged the formation of a multiparty system, which prevailed through the end of the twentieth century.

In 2002, following defeats in 1992 and 1997, opposition leader Mwai Kibaki became Kenya's third president. His defeat of Uhura Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first president, represented a historic change in modern Kenya, encouraging expectations of significant reform. For many, however, Kibaki was a disappointment. Corruption and dysfunction continued, leading to the formation of the Orange Democratic Movement. After a contentious presidential election in 2007, protest and violence erupted. A power-sharing agreement ended the tension, and in 2010 a new national constitution was created.


Prior to the 1970s very few Kenyans immigrated to the United States. Since then, however, the number of Kenyan immigrants has grown considerably. In 1988 about 800 Kenyans immigrated to the United States; by 1998 that number had doubled, to 1,688. In 2011 the number of Kenyans admitted to the United States was 7,762.

The increase in Kenyan immigration to the United States was partly a result of the changes that took place in Kenya in the decades following its independence from Britain in 1963. The country's growing modernization and liberalization made it more possible for Kenyans to pursue educational and economic aspirations that had been restricted under colonial rule and the one-party political system that succeeded it. At the same time that opportunity increased within Kenya, however, rapid population growth and political unrest made it difficult for many to attend school or find work. As a result, more Kenyans began to look outside the country to pursue their educational and professional aims. In the United States a majority of Kenyan immigrants came to pursue schooling, especially at universities, and many others were technical experts as well as executives, administrators, and managers.

Of Kenyans who immigrated to the United States, a majority (74 percent) arrived in the northeast and initially settled in the region, especially New York City, Massachusetts, and Newark, New Jersey. Soon after their arrival, however, 83 percent of Kenyan immigrants moved to another part of the United States, most commonly to the south, in particular Texas and North Carolina. Minnesota was another common destination for Kenyan Americans. This movement was largely motivated by the search for employment and affordable housing. In the South and Midwest, Kenyans have been able to find lower-cost

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housing (according to the 2010 U.S. Census, 18,234 Kenyan Americans owned their homes, while 25,586 occupied rental units), as well as jobs in growing sectors of the economy such as technology.


Kiswahili and English are the official languages of Kenya, and most Kenyans are multilingual. Typically Kenyans speak at least three languages, as each indigenous group has a fully developed language of their own. Kiswahili, a Bantu language that gradually incorporated Arabic words over the centuries, serves as a common language for the various regions in Kenya. Although everyday activities are conducted in Kiswahili, government and court business continue to use English. Other ethnic languages include Luo, Kikuyu, Kamba, Luyia, Gusii, and Kalenjin. In addition, English words have become incorporated into Kiswahili, which has led to a hybrid language composed of Kiswahili and English called Sheng. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 30,000 Kenyan Americans speak a language other than English at home.

Because most Kenyans speak English, immigrants in the United States generally do not face linguistic obstacles and are comfortable switching to English as their principal language. As a result, Kenyan immigrants have traditionally adapted quickly to American educational and occupational environments. The 2010 U.S. Census indicates that 49 percent of Kenyan Americans work in the educational and health care industries.


More than 75 percent of Kenyans are Christian (45 percent Protestant, 23 percent Roman Catholic), while about 10 percent are Muslim, according to 2012 estimates in the CIA World Factbook. Various tribal religions are also prominent in Kenya. Of these, most are founded on a belief in witchcraft and spirit matter. Witch doctors are commonly called upon during times of distress from illness, drought, and other disruptive events. The latter part of the twentieth century saw a decline in the practice of traditional faith and a rise in Islam and Christianity.

The vast majority of Kenyans who immigrate to the United States are Christian, and many join a church, finding it helps ease the adjustment process to their new country, particularly if other Kenyan immigrants are members. Various organizations, such as Kenya Christian Fellowship in America, have been organized within the Kenyan American community to promote religious and ethnic unity. However, definitive religious statistics are difficult to come by because U.S. law bars the Census Bureau from asking faith-related questions.

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Sidebar: HideShow


  • Even when the shield covering wears out, the frame survives.
  • When a drum has a drumhead, one does not beat the wooden sides.
  • When a scorpion stings without mercy, you kill it without mercy.
  • A man does not rub backs with porcupines.
  • Rooster, do not be so proud.
  • Your mother was only an eggshell.
  • The canoe must be paddled on both sides.


Kenyan Americans often assimilate easily into American culture, partially because English is widely spoken in Kenya and, thus, they do not face a language barrier upon arriving in the United States. In addition, many are well educated and have specialized job skills, allowing them to find careers in fields such as technology and health care.

Although Kenyan Americans are often successful educationally and in their work, most do not become U.S. citizens. In 2000, for example, only about 25 percent of U.S. residents claiming Kenyan ancestry were citizens. Furthermore, according to 2010 U.S. Census data, 27,579 of the 45,177 Kenyans in the United States were not naturalized citizens. Many Kenyan Americans are reluctant to abandon their ties to Kenya by becoming American citizens. In fact, it is not uncommon for Kenyan Americans to eventually return to their native country after completing their education or achieving their financial goals. Many of those who do become U.S. citizens maintain ties to their home country and return there for visits.

Traditions and Customs Kenyan culture is a rich mixture of indigenous traditions and various influences from its long history of Islamic, Portuguese, and British colonization. Many Kenyan customs and beliefs originate from an agricultural lifestyle and contain special prayers, dances, and rituals to encourage different natural events. During droughts, for instance, the Masai strip the bark off of tree, bury a skin around the root of the tree, and pour water over it, in addition to placing sacred objects on it and praying for rain. Other traditions stem from hunting and warring practices, where prayers and rituals would be performed before and after the hunt or raid. The Masai sacrifice a sheep before a raid. Reverence of various animals plays a role in other customs. The Suk revere snakes, and if a snake were to enter a hut, the animal could not be killed but was to be fed milk. Traditions also centered on life events, particularly the initiation of a child into adulthood or the birth of a baby.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many traditional Kenyan customs and beliefs began to fade away and change under the colonial dominance of the country by the British. The colonial administration brought missionaries, white settlers, and railways to the country. Over time this led to an infusion of European traditions and customs, which were not accepted into Kenyan society without alternation. Rather, new, hybrid forms of culture were created.

Cuisine Traditional Kenyan cuisine reflects the agricultural products of the region. Kenyan recipes are generally inexpensive and nourishing, relying heavily on potatoes, rice, and maize. Maize is found in a variety of recipes, especially a porridge called ugali, which is cooked with meat (chicken, goat, or beef) or greens and is eaten nearly every day. Other dishes include karanga, a stew cooked with goat meat, carrots, onions, and potatoes; pillau, a spiced rice dish that sometimes includes meat; sukima wiki, a fried dish with chopped spinach, onions, tomatoes, or other vegetables; kienyeji, a dish with mashed corn, beans, potatoes, and greens; and mchicha, which contains spinach, onions, and tomatoes.

Among Kenyan Americans, many of these traditional dishes remain popular. In cities such as Baltimore and Atlanta, which have significant Kenyan American populations, traditional Kenyan cuisine is served in ethnic restaurants.

Traditional Dress The traditional clothing of Kenyans varies from region to region. For example, the traditional clothing of the Masai men, who were known for their fierce warrior status, includes headdresses of lion's mane and ostrich feathers. In addition, they put white and red paint on their faces. The Suk men wear elaborate shoulder-length chignons, jewelry from animals' horns, capes made of skins, lip plugs, and pierced nose discs. Turkana women shave their hair at the sides, twist the top of their hair into strands, and wear oval-shaped plate earrings. Their shoulders are covered with disc-shaped ornamentation made from ostrich eggs. Married Turkana women also wear an apron decorated with beads, which is held with a beaded belt.

During events, particularly those related to the life cycle, clothing serves a special purpose. When girls and boys undergo initiation via circumcision or clitoridectomies, they wear certain clothing that reveals their status. Njemps boys undergoing circumcision wear a dyed black skin, held in place by a belt of cowry shells, and two ostrich feathers in their ears. Njemps girls don metal beads around their neck or face as a symbol of their ongoing clitoridectomy process. Other life-cycle events require particular costumes as well. Women who have just given birth often paint the area around their eyes. Most Kenyans, as well as Page 5  |  Top of ArticleKenyan Americans, do not wear traditional garments except on special occasions.

Dances and Songs Ngoma, the traditional form of Kenyan music, is generally used to describe both music and dance centered on the drum. Many Kenyan dances and songs serve specific purposes and have a variety of themes, such as agricultural (for example, harvest, rain, or fire), mourning, jubilation, fertility, war, and peace. Most of the dances include stamps, hops, squats, slides, and hip swivels, reflecting the occasion for which it is intended. For instance, the battle dance of the Samburu contains fierce jumping motions, which simulate actions of a raid. In addition to continuing to celebrate traditional Kenyan holidays, many Kenyan Americans incorporate traditional Kenyan dances into traditional American holiday celebrations.

Contemporary Kenyan music is a blend of folk and modern forms. There are numerous traditional Kenyan instruments, including the drum; bow harp; lute; lyre; instruments made from animals' horns; wood trumpet; flute; rattle; bell; gong; and the pit xylophone. In Kenyan folk music, these instruments are combined with various forms of singing, including call-and-response vocals that entail one person shouting a line and the other people responding. In the early twentieth century, a genre of music known as taraab was introduced in Kenya. A blend of Arabic, Indian, and African melodies and instrumentation, taraab remains popular in the Kenyan diaspora. For many Kenyans and Kenyan Americans, however, the most popular musical forms are hip hop and reggae, as well as a Congolese style of dance music known as soukous and a French Caribbean style of dance music called zouk.

Holidays Kenyan holidays include the anniversary of the country's independence (December 12) and Kenyatta Day (October 20), which honors Kenya's first prime minister, Jomo Kenyatta. The small number of Kenyan immigrants in the United States prohibits lavish celebrations in honor of these events, but Kenyan American organizations sometimes hold special events for them. Kenyan American Christians celebrate traditional holidays of their faith, such as Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas Day. These days are typically celebrated with large meals and family gatherings. Kwanza is a harvest celebration (kwanza is a Swahili word that means “first harvest”) that begins on December 26 and lasts until January 1. In recent years Kwanza has become more widely celebrated in the United States by both Kenyan Americans and African Americans in general.

Health Care Issues and Practices Despite recent efforts to address health issues, Kenyans have a fairly low life expectancy (62 years for males and 65 years for females in 2012) and a high percentage of infant deaths (43.61 per 1,000 births). Poor living conditions increase the risk of disease, and several diseases are particularly common in Kenya: poliomyelitis, schistosomiasis, intestinal parasites, malaria, respiratory ailments, and, increasingly, HIV infection.

Because most Kenyans speak English, immigrants in the United States generally do not face linguistic obstacles and are comfortable switching to English as their principal language. As a result, Kenyan immigrants have traditionally adapted quickly to American educational and occupational environments.

Most Kenyan Americans, however, are in good health when they enter the United States, and many have health insurance through their employers.


Kenyans place a high value on family relationships and the importance of kinship. Close attention is paid to ancestry and lineage, particularly along paternal lines. In general, the individual is considered less important than his or her community, which centers on the extended family. Households normally contain at least one extended family member. Often several generations are present. Children sometimes refer to their cousins as “brother” or “sister” and call their aunts and uncles “mother” and “father.” Grandparents and great-grandparents are revered for their wisdom.

Because of the emphasis placed on lineage, marriage is a sacred duty. Men are often allowed to marry more than one woman in order to ensure the survival of the patriarchal line. Women are expected to raise large families. Women who do not have many children often face public derision. Large families are rewarded in many instances, both financially and through the elevation of their status. Kenyan homes are traditionally conservative and strictly patriarchal. Husbands work outside the home while the women are expected to stay within the boundaries of the household.

For many years, because of strict immigration laws, Kenyans usually immigrated alone. This meant that many Kenyan Americans were separated from their families for a long period of time. In the mid-1990s, however, the United States reformed its immigrations laws to allow more people, including Kenyans, to immigrate with their families. This altered the makeup of Kenyan American communities and increased their diversity.

Kenyans often have a difficult time adjusting to American values, which they perceive as antithetical to their own, especially the emphasis on individualism, competitiveness, and materialism. Most Kenyan immigrants are accustomed to a close-knit community and being surrounded by family members, and they sometimes feel isolated when they first arrive.

A great concern among Kenyan immigrants is their inability to foster a sense of Kenyan identity in

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Kenyan Americans William and Alice Mukabane are owners of the restaurant Safari DC in Washington, D.C. Kenyan Americans William and Alice Mukabane are owners of the restaurant Safari DC in Washington, D.C. KEVIN CLARK / THE WASHINGTON POST / GETTY IMAGES

their children. Children often have a more difficult time understanding the importance of ancestry and lineage. While Kenyans usually marry within their own ethnic group, the children of Kenyan immigrants are much more likely to marry outside of it. Many Kenyan American parents are involved in Kenyan American organizations that sponsor events to help expose their children to Kenyan culture.

Gender Roles Through the end of the twentieth century, Kenyan households maintained rigid rules concerning women's roles within the patriarchal household. Wives and daughters were expected to stay strictly within the domestic sphere, except for designated agricultural tasks. The importance of these responsibilities was attested by the custom of paying bride price, which compensated the parents for the loss of their daughters. Women faced an enormous amount of social pressure to marry from the moment they were considered ready. Married women were under the protection of their husbands and forced to obtain permission from them to open a bank account or acquire a driver's license.

Families were always traced from the father's line, and all children from a marriage “belonged” to the father. The frequent pregnancies of Kenyan women further reduced their opportunities to break out of traditional domestic-related roles. Contraception remained difficult to obtain and was regarded with suspicion by communities. During the last two decades of the twentieth century, an emerging women's movement has brought about changes in women's educational opportunities, health care, and other matters.

Kenyan American women have embraced the educational and occupational opportunities available in the United States. Unlike many women in Kenya, Kenyan American women are able to obtain contraception, driver's licenses, and bank accounts without permission from their husbands. Since Kenyan American women are usually well educated, they do not have difficulties finding employment and are able to take advantage of the freedom of pursuing a career outside the home. Despite this, Kenyan American women typically earn substantially less than their male counterparts and are expected to perform more of the household chores.

Courtship and Weddings Since much emphasis is placed on family relationships, Kenyan marriages are Page 7  |  Top of Articletaken very seriously and must be met with approval by both families. After it has been granted, there is an engagement period before the marriage ceremony takes place. The majority of Kenyans are Christians, and their weddings usually conform to the dictates of their religion.

There are also traditional indigenous customs that vary from group to group. For instance, the Kikuyu men choose their wives after carefully examining their personalities, integrity, and sociability. It is customary, however, for women not to accept a marriage offer immediately and to hesitate and refer the question to her father. After she does accept, the bridegroom presents his bride with gifts, which are termed “bridewealth.” In addition to more practical items such as cattle or livestock, the gifts sometimes include a mukwar (leather strap), neguo ya maribe (woman's dress made out of skins and beads, presented to the mother of the bride), a ruhiu (sword), and an itimu ria nduthu (a man's coat made out of skins, presented to the father of the bride).

Other indigenous groups practice similar marriage customs, which are sometimes performed in addition to Christian ceremonies. While some close-knit Kenyan immigrant groups maintain traditional customs in the United States, most Kenyan Americans abandon such customs once they immigrate.

Circumcisions An important life-cycle event that takes place in Kenyan culture concerns the initiation of boys and girls into adulthood. This event is traditionally marked with male circumcision and female clitoridectomy (female circumcision) rituals. Although male circumcision is regularly practiced among many different groups, the practice of clitoridectomy is less common. These initiations are an important event for those involved as well as the entire community. Although the customs vary from tribe to tribe, circumcision usually occurs between the twelfth and sixteenth birthday of a boy or girl.

Before undergoing the ceremony, the initiates spend up to a year in preparation, undergoing a series of rituals. For instance, Nandi boys are circumcised around their thirteenth birthday. Their preparation includes learning their groups' folklore, shaving their heads, passing courage tests, and wearing certain garments. After the event, they are placed in seclusion and not allowed to eat with their hands for the first week. After undergoing another series of rituals, they take an oath of secrecy about what they have learned. They are then considered part of Nandi manhood and wear certain clothing to indicate their new status.

Nandi girls undergo a similar process. During their preparation, they wear certain garments and enter into seclusion. They are generally not allowed to see men during this time. At the end of the initiation period, following the clitoridectomy, the girls can wear different clothing to display their new status. They are then eligible for marriage. Both girls and boys are expected to undergo the experience without complaining.

Toward the end of the twentieth century, these customs were gradually abandoned. Clitoridectomies, in particular, were heavily criticized, in part because of the unhygienic conditions under which they were performed. Kenyan immigrants in the United States generally no longer observe the practice of traditional male or female circumcision as an initiation into adulthood.

Funerals The majority of Kenyans practice Christian burials and funeral services. Their reverence of ancestry dictates proper respect for the dead, and funerals are carefully performed.

There are also many indigenous beliefs regarding the afterlife and the spirit world, which are reflected in older customs of burial and funeral services. The Suk traditionally buried their dead so that their stomachs were tilted toward the Seker, the sacred mountain of the Suk. The Maragoli gave a widow her husband's spear and shield. During the funeral she carried them before handing them to his eldest brother immediately afterward. The Taveta buried their dead in a sitting position. Men were buried with their left arm positioned on the knee to support the head, while the women were buried near the door of their hut in a sitting position with their right arm positioned on their knee.

Kenyan American funerals usually do not vary greatly from the funerals of other Americans of their same religion.


The high value that Kenyan Americans place on education has allowed them to find skilled positions. Even during the initial adjustment period, Kenyans are less likely to need assistance than other immigrants, and they tend to have a high employment rate. Because most Kenyans are already fluent in English, they often have an advantage over other immigrant groups.


Kenya and the United States have maintained good relations since Kenya declared its independence in 1963. The United States has provided both political and financial support to Kenya. Kenyans and Americans alike were shocked when the U.S. Embassy was bombed in Nairobi in 1998. Both Americans and Kenyans lost their lives.

Relations with Kenya are important to Kenyan American immigrants. Most Kenyan Americans have left family and friends behind and thus have a personal connection to conditions in their home country. Kenyan Americans actively lobby to increase aid to Kenya. There are a number of organizations designed to provide such support. One is the Kenyan-American Chamber of Commerce (KACC), which was formed in 1999 from the existing Kenyan American Page 8  |  Top of ArticleAssociation. KACC is an influential private investment company that strives to increase development of Kenyan communities through investments in technology, education, and other sectors and to promote trade and cultural relations between Kenya and the United States. The Kenya American Association is primarily financially focused. In addition to taking an aggressive investment stance to help Kenyans in the diaspora, it has a credit union for its members. The Kenyan American Philanthropic Association (KAPA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to issues and challenges facing Kenya. KAPA works to provide adequate health care, potable drinking water, proper education, and job creation for the people of Kenya.

A similar organization is the American-Kenyan Educational Corporation. The corporation raises money to purchase textbooks and other items for primary school children and to help secondary school students pay their tuition. The corporation has also established a sponsor program in which individuals or businesses provide for the needs of an entire classroom.


Academia Ali Mazrui, political scientist, is a renowned expert on African politics. He was born in Kenya in 1933 and moved to the United States in 1974 to teach at the University of Michigan. In 1989 he was appointed the Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities at the State University of New York, Binghamton.

Business Mwende Window Snyder (1975–) is a computer software engineer and senior security project manager at Apple Inc. She previously worked for Mozilla Corporation and coauthored Threat Modeling, a manual on application security. Her mother, Wayua Muasa, is from Kenya, and her father is an American.

Government U.S. president Barack Obama (1961–) was born to a Kenyan father (Barack Obama Sr.). Obama attended Harvard Law School, taught at the University of Chicago Law School, and served in the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate. In 2008 he was elected president, becoming the first African American in the country's history to hold that position.

Music Tom Morello, guitarist in the rock band Rage Against the Machine, is of Kikuyu, Irish, and Italian descent. He was born in Harlem, New York, in 1964. His father is Ngethe Njoroge, the nephew of Jomo Kenyatta, who took part in the Mau Mau rebellion and served as Kenya's first ambassador to the United Nations.

Sports Bernard Lagat (1974–), a middle- and long-distance athlete, was born in Kenya and had an athletic career their prior to his immigration to the United States. He is of Nandi Kalenjin descent. An Olympic gold medal winner, he has represented both Kenya and the United States in the Olympics.

Geoffrey Mutai (1981–), a Kenyan runner, was a record-holder in the marathon. He set his record in the 2001 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:03:02, and that same year he ran the New York City Marathon in 2:05:06. In general, Kenyans have come to dominate the marathon.

Stage and Screen Edi Gathegi (1979–), an actor, was born in Kenya and grew up in California. He is known for his recurring character, Dr. Jeffrey Cole, in the television series House and for his role as Laurent in the films Twilight and its sequel The Twilight Saga: New Moon.


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American Chamber of Commerce Kenya

A nonprofit organization founded by American investors in Kenya that promotes American investment there. An affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the organization seeks to coordinate business activity in order to promote the growth of not only companies but also the Kenyan economy.

P.O. Box 9746-00100
Nairobi, Kenya

Kenyan-American Chamber of Commerce (KACC)

An organization established in 1999 that is devoted to the development of communities in Kenya through investments in technology, education, and other sectors. It promotes trade and cultural relations between Kenya and the United States.

1875 I Street NW
5th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20006
Phone: (202) 591-9182

Kenyan American Philanthropic Association, Inc.

A nonprofit formed to work on issues and challenges facing Kenya.

Thairu Machua, President
Phone: (770) 771-4753


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Art Institute of Chicago

In addition to a substantial collection of traditional Kenyan art, the museum includes contemporary Kenyan art by Magdalene Odundo and others.

111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603
Phone: (312) 443-3600

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National Museum of African Art

The collection includes a number of traditional Kenyan works of art, including jewelry, painted gourds, and sculpture.

950 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, D.C. 20560
Phone: (202) 633-4600
Fax: (202) 357-4879

Syracuse University Library

Contains a microfilm copy of the Kenyan National Archives, a collection of government documents.

222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York 13244
Phone: (315) 443-2093
Fax: (315) 443-2060


Adam, Christopher, Paul Collier, and Njuguna Ndung'u. Kenya: Policies for Prosperity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Adamson, Joy. The Peoples of Kenya. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967.

Azevedo, Mario. Kenya: The Land, The People, and the Nation. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1993.

Branch, Daniel. Kenya: Between Hope and Despair, 1963–2011. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011.

Kibua, Thomas N., and Germano M. Mwabu, eds. Decentralization and Devolution in Kenya: New Approaches. Nairobi: University of Nairobi Press, 2008.

Matua, Makau. Kenya's Quest for Democracy: Taming Leviathan. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2008.

Maxon, Robert M., and Thomas P. Ofcansky. Historical Dictionary of Kenya, 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2000.

Ochieng, William R., ed. Themes in Kenyan History. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1990.

Whiteley, W. H., ed. Language in Kenya. London: Oxford University Press, 1974.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3273300107