Kenya culture

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1.0 Introduction

Development is a multifaceted concept that is determined by different aspects including the resources and the intellectual capacity of using the resources to attain this goal. Governments that have attained this goal are democratic and provide for their citizens with ease. It is also worth noting that the process of development is long term and it calls for some degree of commitment and focus from all stakeholders. This paper analyses the development process of Kenya in light of different theories. Its major aim is to identify key areas that could require attention in order to steer the country to self sufficiency. This invaluable information will be obtained from different primary and secondary sources.

Kenya is located in Eastern Africa between latitudes 4˚ North and 4˚ South and longitudes 34˚ East and 41˚ East. It is bordered to the east by Somalia and the Indian Ocean, to the west by Uganda, to the north by Ethiopia and Sudan and to the south by Tanzania. Its GDP has declined in the recent past to $10.4 and its per capita income stands at US$360 (GOK, 2009). Relatively, its social indicators have also declined just like its economy. Infant mortality stands at 78 per 1000 births and life expectancy declined to 46 years due to the effect of HIV/ Aids pandemic. There is persistence hunger with the children being the most affected. Statistics show that 19% of children under the age of five are under weight (GOK, 2009). The literacy level is presently at 85.1% and the country is characterized by high levels of inequality reflected through unequal distribution of resources.

2.0 Research Findings

2.1 Dependency versus Modernization theory

The dependency theory is applicable to the Kenyan economy and it is manifested through the country’s economic state. Over the years, this country has been dependent on loans from the IMF and the World Bank to run its operations. According to the World Bank, today, Kenya has a debt of $ 6.34 billion which it is still servicing. It also highly depends on international economic aid from international countries in cases of natural disasters like famine, floods and diseases. Due to its dependency on the developed nations, the country is susceptible to economic sanctions from the countries it relies on.

In addition, the country’s condition has also been contributed to by the increased movement of capital to the west. To this end, the country exports most of its cash produce to the industrialized countries and due to the poor economic state, it has also lost its expertise to other nations as they look for greener pastures. Hence this condition has led to under development in this country. However, if the country adopted the modernization theory with regard to development, it would actually attain the first world level, owing to the fact that it is endowed with a rich natural resource base. In addition, good governance and democracy could be very instrumental in helping the country to attain these heights.

2.2 Religion and Politics

Though closely interlinked, religion in Kenya does not influence the entire working of the state. In this respect, religion acts as a check to politics, just like the role played by the media and civil society in the same. Religion in Kenya is used to highlight political aspects that are defective but not entirely change them. However, the state can control religious activities whenever they are deemed insecure or are a threat to state security. It is should also be indicated that that to some extent, the state manipulates religion for its benefit. For instance, politicians in Kenya use the church as a media to communicate their perceptions regarding any political issues in the country. Religion is also highly acknowledged in the country and can be very influential in initiating change and democracy.

2.3 Democracy and Dictatorship

Since independence, Kenya was ruled by one party until 1992 when pressure mounted and the country adopted multiparty. The then leader, president Moi assumed leadership again until 2002 when the other parties formed a coalition which led to his defeat. In 2007, there was a dispute over the presidential results between the reigning NARC Kenya coalition party referred to as Part of National Unity (PNU) and the then opposition party ODM. According to the then electoral commission, the chairman was forced to announce President Kibaki as a leader which was contrary to the results in ODM’s party. This implies that the electoral commission lacked credibility and professionalism when executing its duties. In deed, this was way under the international standards and expectations. This led to clashes but later on, under the mediation of Koffi Annan, the two parties agreed to form a coalition government.

The country is now headed by a coalition government that has a president and the prime minister. The absence of an official opposition party has led to increased corruption and other evils like impunity by the government officials. The role of putting the government in check has been left at the mercy of the civil society, religion and the media. Although these flaws in governance are always highlighted, little is done to correct them and the media, church and the civil society are virtually a toothless dog. As a result, democracy, besides its fundamental role in development has not been fully achieved in the country.

2.4 Ethnic cultural divisions

The disputed 2007 election results made the country to adopt a coalition government for leadership. It is because the country went up in clashes and all tribes fought against the most dominant tribe that the president belongs. Hence the countries leadership was divided between two factions that were representatives of different tribes in the country. Currently, plans are underway to restore peace within all the ethnic classes. In the course of actualizing this reality, the Kenyan government formed a truth and reconciliation commission charged with the responsibility of restoring peace. In addition, most of the refugees that resulted from the post poll clashes have returned to their homes and are rebuilding their lives. Furthermore, the culture of impunity, which has been shunned internationally is being effectively addressed as the Kenyan government has been given an ultimatum to either form local tribunal or have the people who perpetrated the post poll clashes be taken to the International Criminal court.

Although this trend is democratically encouraging, studies indicate that if it is no handled carefully, it could result in to ethnic clashes again. The subject is very sensitive because apparently, the perpetrators of post poll clashes are senior government officials and political leaders. These people are very influential and can incite the local communities to fight again. However, if the process goes through peacefully, and the post poll perpetrators are apprehended accordingly, this will be a clear sign that the country is moving towards democracy. To this end, the culture of impunity is unlikely to recur in future.

2.5 Women and Politics

Despite the fact that women in Kenya form almost 52% of the entire population, they are widely discriminated against by their male counterparts (GOK, 2009). Indeed, there is a very low representation of women in different sectors of the Kenyan economy including but not limited to education, employment, entrepreneurship and political decision making. Although the Kenyan constitution gives women an equal chance to participate in politics, they always face challenges during campaigns as the political environment in Kenya is majorly anti- women. These challenges range from economic constraints and discrimination to physical abuse where they are raped and beaten.

Generally, the representation of women in politics has increased at a snail’s pace since independence. This has also been perpetuated by the cultural and traditional perception of the role of women in the society. Due to the affirmative action adopted recently, women have had a 30% representation in the government. This has led to a significant number of women being nominated as members of parliament. Generally, Handleman’s assumptions are reflected in the Kenyan politics as women, despite being able to provide effective leadership, have been deprived of this chance by the patriarchal society that characterizes his country.

2.6 Globalization

Globalization in Kenya has presented both negative and positive implications to all the sectors of the economy. By opening up to the global markets, Kenya is in position to sell its excess produce to other countries. For instance, a significant amount of Kenya’s exports that come from Agriculture are sold to other countries. This has provided the country with foreign exchange and enhanced the living standards of the local farmers.

Also, the free movement of information and equipment has seen Kenya adopt various technologies in production. This has in return improved their quality of goods and services to meet the international standards. In addition, increased foreign investment has enabled Kenyans to secure jobs and hence improve their standards of living. Furthermore, globalization has enabled the country to have a taste of the ‘foreign’ culture and generally get exposed to more westernized practices.

However, globalization has also presented serious problems to this developing country. In particular, the increased economic production has led to governance problems because the country lacks the capacity to effectively implement and enforce viable policies. Further, the movement of capital to developed countries has deprived this country the chance to develop economically. In addition, the weak environmental policy framework in the country has provided ideal conditions for foreign investments to pollute the Kenyan environment and currently, its environment is degraded. Above all, Kenya has adopted globalization as a full package without identifying the aspects that are detrimental to the performance of its economy. As a result, even with the beneficial aspects of globalization, the country still faces economic decline.

Being a highly fragmented country that is characterized by inequality and corruption, globalization just propagates this condition. To this effect, the political leaders are known to amass wealth through corrupt deals. This includes cash, national assets and land that is easily grabbed by the politicians. Hence the gap between the poor and the rich in the country continues to expand everyday. Instead of protecting its individuals, the government officials, through corruption have made the Kenyan people even poorer. Tribalism has permeated to the roots of the country and employment for instance, depends on ‘who knows who’ policy as opposed to the professional qualifications. Coupled with insecurity, this condition has not impressed the investors and they are pulling out of the country steadily. It should be acknowledged that if this trend is allowed to continue, Kenyans are bound to stay in poverty for so long.

2.7 Revolutionary change/Soldiers and politics

With regard to the military, Kenya is a stable country whose president is the commander in chief of the same. Concerns however have been raised with regard to extra judicial killings that were carried out by the police during the post poll clashes. Seemingly, the officers were working under directives from their authorities. This is certainly a move that contravenes the provisions of democracy and therefore it should be shunned. Further, the police force in the country is experiencing a considerable degree of tension because of rivalry between the administration police and other disciplines. This should be taken in to consideration and timely interventions taken to avoid possibility of an outbreak of war between the factions. It is because such a condition can compromise the stability of the whole country.

2.8 Social and Health problems in Kenya

This country is faced with a myriad of social problems that pose different challenges to the population even as it grapples with the failing economy. Most significantly, the rate of crime in this country has increased a lot with many incidences of armed robbery and car jacking being reported. In the recent past, the trend has changed slightly and now there are many cases of kidnapping. This can be attributed to the increased unemployment especially of the youth.

There are also cases of drug abuse and trafficking. This practice is rampant in the coastal town where drugs are sold to tourists by the unemployed youth. The youths also abuse these and severe cases have been reported even in Central Kenya. The drugs are also trafficked to other countries and most recently, some Kenyan youths are facing a death sentence in China because of being caught trafficking drugs.

Child and spouse abuse is yet another social ill that characterizes the country. This takes different forms ranging from child labor to child trafficking. Because of the increasing levels of poverty in the country, most children are dropping out of school in order to complement the parents’ efforts of looking for food. They resort to providing labor in large farms and working as house helps in urban areas. Unfortunately the government is doing so little to address this scenario.

Children are also sexually abused by strangers as well as their parents. To this end, there have been many incidences of children being raped by their parents who are charged with the responsibility of protecting them. In extreme instances, these children are even infected with HIV and AIDs. Also, in some families, women have often complained of sexual abuse from their spouses. Unfortunately, the Kenyan constitution does not provide legislation for this.

The country is also faced with very many health challenges emanating from diseases such as AIDs, Malaria and Tuberculosis. HIV and Aids has been a major threat to the Kenya’s health as infection rates continue to soar. Recent studies affirm that the disease prevalence in Kenya doubled from 5.1% in 1990 to 10.6% in 2003 (GOK, 2009). This has left most children as orphans further making them more susceptible to social ills. These children discontinue their education in order to take care of their siblings. This trend is attributable to the poverty conditions that characterize these people as well as lack of information about the disease and limited resources to manage it.

Malaria is another disease that affects the Kenyan population significantly. Studies indicate that round 70% of the Kenyan population is at risk of this threat, implying that indeed, this is a national problem (GOK, 2009). Specifically, expectant mothers and children under the age of five are the most susceptible. This disease continues to claim Kenyan lives despite the effort of the government in addressing the same.

The third most dangerous disease is tuberculosis. It is highly contagious and claims so many lives in Kenya. It is associated with HIV and AIDs and its treatment takes a long period of time and is very expensive. However, the government provides this treatment to its citizens free of charge and thus the increasing death levels are majorly caused ignorance and increased resistance levels. Other diseases that pose a threat to the country include outbreaks of cholera, Ebola and other communicable diseases. Usually, this occurs as a result of the government’s delays in addressing the outbreaks as well as lack of enough resources to effectively contain the diseases.

3.0 Conclusion

Certainly, from the above discussions, it is notable that the development of a country solely depends on the country’s individual effort. Of course there are different external factors that determine the rate of development but the ultimate goal of attaining this condition is determined by the country. Specifically, rational and viable policies are important in achieving this desirable state. Again, despite the fact that external factors determine the rate of development, the country can hasten this process by adopting positive attitudes. Further, putting in place adequate indicators to measure this development can also have a positive impact on the rate of development as the authorities will occasionally make changes best suited to attain this state.

Generally, Kenya is a country that is endowed with enough resources to cater for its needs and provides enough social amenities for its citizens. The major impediment to attaining this goal lies in the poor governance and over dependence on foreign aid. The country should critically analyze its governance and address these concerns accordingly. It should be acknowledged that governance to a great extent determines the type and rate of development of a given country. Indeed, the country’s governance dictates how various resources are sourced used to benefit the citizens. In addition, it determines how the country’s resources are distributed to different parts of the country to be used by citizens in line with priority areas. Apparently, there is need for a paradigm shift with regard to governance in Kenya. However, the ability to achieve this state lies in the Kenyan citizens who have the mandate to elect into power individuals that are development conscious. This can only be achieved through education and capacity building as the literacy levels is still very low.

4.0 Reference

Government of Kenya, (2009): The Profile of the Republic of Kenya. Nairobi: Government Press.