Kenya Culture

Kenya Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Kenya

According to COMPUTERANNALS.COM, Kenya is a country located in Africa. The Kenyan media landscape is one of the most thriving and innovative in Africa. The constitution that was adopted in 2010 strengthened freedom of the press and opinions and prohibited state involvement in privately owned media. The statute also provides for state-owned media to be impartial.

Ownership is dominated by five media houses, of which Nation Media Group (NMG) and Standard Group are the largest.

Nation Media Group was founded in 1959 by Aga Khan IV who is also the largest shareholder. It is the largest media group in East Africa and also has operations in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. The Group publishes, inter alia, Kenya’s largest daily newspaper, The Daily Nation, with an edition of about 200,000 copies. (2013). NMG has extensive activities on the internet and also owns a TV and a radio channel.

Standard Group provides out The Standard, the region’s oldest and second largest daily newspaper, founded in 1902. The group also owns Kenya’s first private television channel, Kenya Television Network (KTN), and the radio channel Radio Maisha.

The main news media is the radio. There are about 90 radio stations, some 70 of which are private. Radio broadcasting began in 1928 by the predecessor of the state-owned company Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC). In addition to broadcasts in the official languages ​​English and Swahili, KBC also has programs in some 15 minority languages.

The TV market is dominated by KBC, which is alone in having nationwide broadcasts. The business is financed with advertising and government subsidies.

The Internet and social media play an increasingly important role in the news media, and in early 2013, over 40% of Kenyans had access to the Internet, mainly via mobile phones. Almost 80% had a mobile subscription and the share of smart mobiles is increasing sharply.

Safaricom is the dominant mobile operator with a market share of about 65%. The company is jointly owned by the former state telecommunications operator Telkom Kenya and British Vodafone.

The most popular sites in Kenya are global websites such as Google, YouTube and Amazon. Only one domestic player is on the top ten list, the daily The Standard.


According to ALLUNITCONVERTERS, various peoples within the country have their linguistic and cultural characteristics. The large folk groups – like kikuyu and luo – have a prominent place with their dances, crafts and storytelling traditions. On the coast, the so-called Swahili culture blends Arab and Muslim traditions with elements of indigenous African culture.

Examples of Swahili culture architecture, with example carved mangrove door posts, are found in Mombasa and on the island of Lamu. Along the coast, a rich oral tradition, called ngoma, developed early. Here, in the 18th century, a Swahili text was also created, which was written in Arabic writing.

Kenya’s foremost writer and playwright Ngugi wa Thiong’o was arrested in 1977 for political reasons and jailed for a year without trial. At this time, he switched to writing in Gauuyu (the language of the Kikuyas) instead of in the language of the old colonial power, English. Several of his novels with elements of social criticism are published in Swedish, including the Devil on the Cross. His plays have features of oral storytelling tradition. Thiong’o left Kenya in 1982 to live first in England, then in the United States. It was not until summer 2004 that he visited Kenya again in connection with a lecture tour. In 2006, Thiong’o published her first novel in almost 20 years, The Wizard of the Crow.

Among the more well-known English-language writers are Leonard Kibera, Grace Ogot, Meja Mwangi, Wahome Mutahi and Binyavanga Wainaina (1971–2019). The playwright John Rugoiyo Gichuki has won, among other things, the British BBC’s award for best African play for A time for cleansing, which deals with how violence affects a family in Rwanda.

In 2014, Kenyan Lupita Nyong’o was awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her contribution in the film 12 Years a Slave, set in the 19th century USA. In 2018, the short film Watu Wote: All of Us was nominated for an Oscar. The film is based on a real event, about an Islamist attack on a bus in northeast Kenya in 2015 that is canceled when everyone refuses to tell the assailants which of the passengers are Christian. It is directed by German Katja Benrath with her Kenyan co-workers.

The Bengali music, which originated in the music of the Luo people, is the African style of music most reminiscent of rock and pop. Interest in domestic music has increased in recent years.

Mass Media

The media scene is relatively lively in Kenya and the constitution adopted in 2010 strengthens freedom of press and expression. But the government has subsequently been criticized for new laws restricting freedom and journalists reporting on sensitive topics are exposed to threats, violence and harassment.

The media has traditionally examined the holders of power and reported on, for example, the widespread corruption. However, attempts are being made by the state government to control the reporting, and according to international press freedom organizations, the situation has worsened after the 2013 elections. The tribunal should be able to impose high fines for violating a code of conduct. Several of the laws have been challenged in court and it is unclear how far the control will be. But only the threat of increased risk of reprisal is considered to have led to restraint among journalists. Topics that are risky to report include security issues, police brutality and extrajudicial executions, the International Criminal Court,

Defamation cases and other pressures are used to silence criticism. Newspapers that are folded usually have to pay high sums in fines, which leads to a certain self-censorship. It also happens that journalists are arrested and harassed, often by government officials. The government can ban state advertising on inconvenient media. Such a ban hit the media company Standard Election Year 2007, after the newspaper published information that a minister had been involved in trying to hire a professional killer.

The Standard Group is one of two dominant media companies and publishes The Standard (formerly East African Standard), founded in 1902. Nation Media Group (NMG) publishes Daily Nation which is the country’s largest newspaper, Kenya’s only daily newspaper in Swahili, Taifo Leo, and the prestigious weekly magazine The East African. In addition, the company owns TV and radio stations. In addition, there is another daily newspaper and a number of magazines.

Most Kenyans receive their news via radio. In connection with the outbreak of violence after the 2007 elections (see Modern history), a temporary ban on live broadcasts was introduced. It has been criticized as a restriction on media freedom. At the same time, it is clear that several local radio stations were used to stir up violence. One of the two people charged by the ICC for the deadly violence is Joshua arap Sang, the head of a Kalenjin-language radio station (see ICC trials after the 2007 election).

The state-run Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) broadcasts in English, Swahili, Hindi and a variety of native languages. Several private radio stations broadcast in different local languages. KBC is alone in having nationwide television broadcasts, in English and Swahili. The broadcasts are now financed through advertising.

The commercial channels are freer in their reporting and reach more and more even outside the big cities.


Percentage of the population using the internet

18 percent (2017)

Number of mobile subscriptions per 100 residents

96 (2018)



Presidential candidates are appointed

The anniversary alliance appoints Uhuru Kenyatta as its presidential candidate, with Ruto as the candidate for the vice presidential post. As expected, Raila Odinga Cord becomes the presidential candidate and Musyoka its vice presidential candidate.

New electoral districts cause unrest

Prime Minister Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka announce that they will cooperate in the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (Cord).
About 40 people are killed in new unrest between the snake and pokoma people in the coastal province (see August and September 2012). According to the UN, the unrest may be because the boundaries of the electoral districts have been redrafted.

A great alliance is formed for upcoming elections

Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto announce that they and their parties TNA and URP are cooperating before the elections, in the Jubilee Alliance. Shortly thereafter, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi also joins them. Kenyatta and Mudavadi will try to be nominated as presidential candidate of the alliance, while Ruto will become vice presidential candidate regardless of which of the other two is elected.


Attacks against church

Another attack is directed at a church in the town of Garissa near the border with Somalia (see also July 2012). One person is killed and eleven injured.


Murder of politician

Unrest erupts in Kisumu in the west since ODM politician Shem Onyango Kwega was assassinated. Two people are killed and several injured after clashes between police and protesters.

The government intervenes against MRC

President Kibaki approves new anti-terrorism legislation with stricter penalties. The government announces at the beginning of the month that it will intervene against MRC (see July 2012) and its financiers. One of the group’s leaders, Omar Mwamnuadzi, and another ten people are arrested by police. Two of Mwamnuadzi’s bodyguards are killed as they try to prevent the arrest. A leader of the MRC, Omar Mwamnuadzi, and another dozen people are arrested. Two of Mwamnuadzi’s bodyguards are killed as they try to prevent the arrest.

New anti-terrorism legislation is adopted

Attacks with lethal outcome should be able to give life imprisonment and other attacks up to 30 years in prison. Security forces are given new powers when it comes to arresting terror suspects, seizing their property and intercepting them. Muslims fear that the laws will be directed primarily at the Muslim minority. Criticism also comes from elsewhere, as it is feared that the laws can be used to restrict freedom of expression.

Stricter punishment for terrorist offenses

The High Court in the United Kingdom gives the go-ahead to allow three Kenyans to sue British authorities for torture during the Mau-Mau uprising in the 1950s (see Modern History).


Politicians are suspected of being behind violence

Deputy Minister of Livestock Dhado Godhana is being charged for rioting after statements he made in connection with the violence that continues in the Tana River district (see August 2012). He also loses his ministerial post. According to Human Rights Watch , there may be politicians hoping to enter parliament in the 2013 elections are behind the violence. The aim would be to strengthen their own position by driving away their political opponents supporters.


Violence after Islamist leader’s murder

Islamist preacher Aboud Rogo is shot dead in Mombasa. It is unclear who is behind the murder. The shooting has triggered violent riots in Mombasa, where young Islamists clash with the police and several churches are set on fire. At least three people are killed, two policemen and one civilian. Many of the protesters say the police are involved in the murder.

Fractions between people groups require life

More than 50 people, most of them women and children, are killed in connection with a dispute between the peoples snake and the pokoma about pasture lands in the Tana River district of the Coast Province.


Banning Claim Claimed

The Supreme Court cancels the ban on Mombasa’s Republican Council (MRC) seeking to establish an independent state around Mombasa (see Political system).

Attack on churches

Seventeen people are killed and about 40 injured in a concerted attack on two churches in Garissa. al-Shabaab is suspected of the act.


Presidential candidate dies.

In early June, George Saitoti (see November 2006), Minister of Internal Security, dies in a helicopter crash. He had announced that he would stand as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election.


Bomb at nightclub

One person is killed and several injured when explosive charges explode at a nightclub in Mombasa.

Leaders change party

Musalia Mudavadi leaves ODM and announces that he will stand as a candidate in the presidential election. He will run for the newly formed United Democratic Forum (UDF). Uhuru Kenyatta leaves Kanu and announces that he is now leading the National Alliance (The National Alliance, TNA).


Attacks in coastal cities

The Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab is suspected of two attacks in the coastal cities of Mombasa and Mtwapa. At least one person is killed and about 30 injured.

Elections are announced

The Election Commission announces that the next election will be held on March 4, 2013.

Nine dead in assaults

At least nine people are killed in a grenade attack on a bus station in Nairobi. The government accuses al-Shabaab of the act, but the militant group denies interference.


Prosecution is blamed on the Prime Minister

After the charges have been made public, both Kenyatta and Ruto hold mass meetings in areas where they have strong support. They accuse Prime Minister Odinga of being behind the ICC ‘s prosecution and his opinion figures are falling rapidly.

Prosecution is brought against the former suspects of crime

The ICC announces that enough evidence has been found to bring charges against four leading politicians (see ICC trials after the 2007 election). William Ruto says he plans to stand in the upcoming presidential election, despite the ICC prosecution. Although Kenyatta resigns as finance minister a few days after the ICC’s announcement. However, he retains the post of Deputy Prime Minister. Francis Muthaura also leaves his post in the government.

Attack against police posting

At least six people are killed when a police post is attacked near the border with Somalia. al-Shabaab takes on the blame for the act.

New party with crime suspect in the lead

William Ruto (see August 2011) registers a new party, the United Republican Party (URP), and says he plans to run in the next presidential election.

Kenya Culture

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