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How Did the African Country of Kenya Get Its Name?

Who named the African country of Kenya?

Chic African Culture

Below are five interesting facts on how the world’s 31st most populated county, Kenya, received her name.

Kenya's name

African Country of Kenya 

By Chic African Culture Kenya name facts:

1. What is now Kenya, in 1888, the Imperial British East Africa Company established claims to territory and in 1895, and the company’s territory in Kenya was transferred to the crown as the East Africa Protectorate. Currently as a presidential republic, in 1920, the British East Africa Protectorate or British East Africa was renamed Kenya.

2.   The official theory of Kenya’s name according to the Kenyan government's website is as follows; the name Kenya came from Kirinyaga that means a place with white spots. Kenya is named after Mount Kenya- the second tallest Mountain in Africa. The Kikuyu people who lived around present day Mt Kenya referred to it as Kirinyaga or Kerenyaga, meaning mountain of whiteness because of its snowcapped peak. Mt Kirinyaga, which was the main landmark, became synonymous with the territory the British later claimed as their colony. The name Kenya arose out of the inability of the British to pronounce Kirinyaga correctly. Kiswahili and English are Kenya's official languages, the local long form name for Kenya is the Republic of Kenya in English and Jamhuri ya Kenya in Kiswahili.

3. The unofficial theory on how Kenya got its name; Kenya named for Mount Kenya may derive from the Kikuyu, Embu, and Kamba words "kirinyaga," "kirenyaa," and "kiinyaa" - all of which mean God's resting place.

Maasai East Africa Kenya tribes man.
Maasai East Africa Kenya tribes man.

Kenya is divided horizontally by the Equator. Kenya is bordered to the north by South Sudan and Ethiopia, to the east by Somalia and the Indian Ocean, to the south by Tanzania, and to the west by Lake Victoria and Uganda.


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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My father and mother are historians of African culture and history and their influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

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