Tuesday, January 8, 2013

T minus 12

Twelve days to my departure to Kenya.  I could put this to a song, like the Twelve Days of Christmas, for the next week:
  • On T minus 12, my agenda said to me:  research Kenya
  • On T minus 11, my agenda said to me:  get life insurance
  • On T minus 10, my agenda said to me:  service your car
  • On T minus 9, my agenda said to me:  get your hair cut
  • On T minus 8, my agenda said to me:  visit with your mother
  • On T minus 7, my agenda said to me:  speak at one of your supporting churches
  • On T minus 6, my agenda said to me:  visit with your renter
  • On T minus 5, my agenda said to me:  celebrate Noah's 18th birthday
  • On T minus 4, my agenda said to me:  take Noah for his driving permit, then practice driving
  • On T minus 3, my agenda said to me:  make final touches on syllabus
  • On T minus 2, my agenda said to me:  pack and weigh your bags
  • On T minus 1, my agenda said to me:  say goodbye to loved ones
You get the picture...my list is long and keeps growing of all the details that need to be done before I leave.  Be glad that you don't hear me sing this song!

Yesterday, T-13, I went to the Kent County Health Department for several new shots regarding Kenya.  My last time there was 2003 and it was time to renew some of my boosters.  They gave me a nine page traveler's report regarding Kenya and health risks associated with that area.  Anyone traveling for the first time would be rather intimidated after reading this report!  Unfortunately for me, because I will be living in a more rural area, close to the Uganda border, I qualified for some extra shots as well!

As I read through the report, a thought occurred to me.  When we moved to Liberia and Ghana, Bob did a blog on the history or highlights of both of those countries.  In fact, for each country, he had at least three or four books relating to history and geography.  The only books I've ordered for this trip thus far are Business as Mission books!  So today I'm going to postpone some of the trip prep that I was going to do, to do some research on Kenya and share some of that with you - at least some info that you may wonder about, given my move there.

The first thing about Kenya (which someone just asked me the other day), is that is is right on the equator.  It is bordered by the Indian Ocean on the south-east, Tanzania on the south, Uganda on the West, South Sudan to the north-west, Ethiopia to the North, and Somalia to the north-east.  The population is over 43 million - 73% are below the age of 30!  I will be living in Kitale, which you can see on the map, is on the western side of Kenya, close to the Ugandan border.

Nairobi is the capital city and also serves as the regional commercial hub.  The economy of Kenya is the largest by GDP for East and Central Africa.  Agriculture is the major employer, with coffee and tea are major exports, and more recently, fresh flowers to Europe.

The Kenyan Flag:  Masai Shield with two spears, symbolizing the defense of freedom
The official languages are English and Swahili (which I am determined to learn!).  It is the world's 47th largest country (224,081 sq miles), and the land ranges from low plains, fertile plateaus, and central highlands.  Mt. Kenya is the second highest peak on the continent.  Kenya's climate ranges from tropical on the coast, temperate inland, to arid in the north and northeast.  I will be living close to the base of Mt. Elgon, which is around 2000 meters about sea level, so the temperatures will be cooler (at least cooler than other parts of Kenya, and definitely cooler than where we lived in West Africa!).  The average daily temperature in Kitale is around 70F...so I'm packing my winter clothes!
Kenyan Coat of Arms:  Harambee means "All for One"

Kenya's name has an interesting (and sad) history.  The original name was Kirinyaga, named for Mt. Kirinyaga, meaning Mountain of Whiteness (because of the snowcap).  However, because Kenya was colonized by the British, who could not pronounce this name, it was changed to Kenya.  By the 1930s, over 30,000 white settlers were in Kenya, primarily farming coffee and tea.  The Kikuyu people (the largest ethnic group) had no land claims, in European terms, and worked as itinerant farmers.  By 1964, the Republic of Kenya was declared and Jomo Kenyatta became Kenya's first president. 

The last election, in 2007, erupted into riots - the elections were assessed to be flawed by international observers, calling the results into question.  1000 people were killed and 600,000 people were displaced.  The next national election is March 4, 2013 - in just under two months!  This will be the first election under the new constitution, which was passed in 2010.  Please pray with me for peace and transparency.

That's enough of a history and current events lesson for this blog!  If you are Kenyan, feel free to correct me if anything was incorrect!  Thanks for reading!