By Daniel Odongo
S.C. College of Pharmacy, MUSC Campus
Paleontologists believe that Kenya was first inhabited 2 million years ago. Archeological findings in Kenya through the years have led many scientists to conclude that Kenya has played a significant role in the evolution of mankind.
This conclusion has been supported by recent suggestions by a group of scientists that "Mitochondrial Eve" may have originated from Kenya and the East African region. Regardless of the controversy around this issue, Kenya has played a significant role in the evolution and history of mankind.
Ancient Arab traders are believed to have been the first foreign inhabitants in Kenya. They settled along the coast intermarrying with some of the local communities. This led to the birth of Swahili — one of the most widely spoken languages in East, Central and Southern Africa.
At a population of 40 million, Kenya is home to 42 different tribes that speak 69 different languages and dialects. In spite of the cultural and traditional beliefs and differences among the various tribes, Kenyans are remarkably friendly and peace-loving.
In no place in Africa is the popular adage, Hakuna matata or no worries, more true than in Kenya. Because of this peace-loving and easy-going culture, it is no wonder that in spite of being in the middle of conflict zones in Africa, Kenya has maintained peace and achieved prosperity throughout its history.
The spirit of Kenya is captured by the Swahili word 'Harambee,' which means to pull resources together. I personally believe that it describes our culture succinctly. After independence, Kenyans embarked on rebuilding a country that had a unique identity and authenticity — free of the elements of colonial rule that centered on dividing and conquering the people. As a result of the Harambee spirit, Kenyans have always taken great interest in each other's welfare, pulling resources together to educate children within the community, help individuals start businesses and meet medical expenses.
In Kenya, children receive every advantage possible to succeed, socially and economically.
The health and quality of life in Kenya have been significantly influenced by the economic and cultural practices of the various tribes. Economically, AIDS has had the worst impact, killing the most productive age group in society and consequently leaving behind a generation of orphans. In Africa, there is a popular saying that a child belongs to the community. And this is one area where Kenyans have — as a result of the Harambee spirit — pulled their resources together and stepped in to ensure that the orphaned children continue to get every advantage — social and economical — to succeed in life.
These efforts have been especially successful as a result of education and awareness efforts by the government to remove a lot of the social stigmas attached to the disease. As the tide continues to turn on this deadly disease, Kenya, like many other countries afflicted by AIDS, can look forward to unleashing its full potential and making more contributions to the global community.
The flag of Kenya consists of three horizontal stripes. The black stripe represents the African people; the red stands for the struggle for independence; and the green represents Kenya's agriculture and natural resources. The thin white stripes symbolize peace and unity. The emblem in the center of the flag consists of a Masai warrior's shield and spears.
- Interesting Facts
Kenyan runners have historically done well in long distance races. Most runners come from the higher altitude parts of Kenya. Because of the thin air and high altitude, their bodies are adapted to carry oxygen more efficiently giving them a natural advantage in long distance races. They also train very hard.
- The late professor and environmentalist, Wa'angari Maathai, is the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace prize for her efforts to conserve the environment.
- The staple food of Kenya is ugali — a type of corn bread that is unique in that it can capture the flavor of almost any dish. This makes it easy to cook with any other meal.
- Every tribe has its own rite of passage — a transitionary stage of life where the history and values of a tribe are passed down to the younger generations. At this time, boys become men and girls become young ladies. Traditionally, during this time the future head of a clan is identified. He would be expected to accomplish a great feat. In the Masaai community for example, one would have to kill a lion and return with its mane, a feat that was considered the ultimate sign of a warrior.
- Many tourists visit Kenya for a safari at one of the many renowned national parks. Incidentally, safari is a Swahili word for journey, and most tourists enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience on this "journey." In fact, Kenya is one of very few countries in the world that is home to the "Big 5" game — lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant and rhino.
- Mount Kenya is the highest peak in Kenya at 5,199 m (17,057 feet). Kenya is named after the mountain.
- The Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa.
A 55-year-old male with a recent history of travel to the western area of the Masai Mara game reserve presented to the emergency department with complaints of fever and a headache. His lodging was a tented safari camp on the banks of the Mara River. He recalls being bitten by many mosquitoes and flies. During the exam you notice a necrotic chancre about 8 cm in diameter on his left leg. He also had some palpable posterior cervical lymph nodes.
The most likely cause of this patient's symptoms is which of the following?
B. Dengue Fever
C. African Sleeping Sickness
D. Rift Valley Fever
The answer is C. African Sleeping Sickness is caused by Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense and transmitted by the tsetse fly. The clinical presentation typically includes a high fever, a chancre, skin rash, headache, myalgia and lymphadenopathy. Treatment drugs include suramin, malarsoprol and eflornithine.
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