Kenya

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Overview

Kenya is a country in eastern Africa, occupying a coastal strip of white sand beaches, a temperate highland region, and the Serengeti, a series of semiarid plains where much of Africa’s famous animals live. The country is bordered by Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, and also by Lake Victoria. Kenya was settled around 2000 BC first by Arab and Persian settlements, who settled the coastal regions, then by the Bantu and Portuguese, who arrived in the 15th century. Kenya became a British colony in 1920, however many Kenyans were unhappy with their relationship with the British colonists, which led to uprisings against the colonial government. Specifically, the Mau Mau Uprising from 1952 to 1960 was a great, though unsuccessful, movement of Kenyan peasants against British rule that encouraged Kenyan independence. On December 12, 1963, Kenya gained independence from the British under the government of Jomo Kenyatta, who would become the first president of independent Kenya. Though the country has been comprised of several opposition parties for several years now, the 2007 elections proved to be seriously flawed, with turnout in excess of 100% in some areas. Incumbent Mwai Kibaki was finally declared president in December 2007, and soon signed a power-sharing agreement with members of the coalition government. In November 2008, Barack Obama, whose father was from Kenya, sparked nationwide celebrations in Kenya when he won the US presidency.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Straddling the equator on the east coast of Africa, Kenya is a land of great geographical variety. The steamy coastal strip with its white powdery beaches and tropical palms contrasts sharply with the undulating fields of wheat and corn growing in the temperate central highland region in the shadow of snowcapped Mount Kenya. In between are semiarid plains where many of the wild African animals, for which Kenya is so famous, dwell. In the north, a great desert extends into the territory of Kenya’s northern neighbors, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Sudan. In the west, Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, forms much of Kenya’s border with Uganda. To the south are the Amboseli plains, teeming with game, as is the Masai Mara National reserve and the Nakuru National Park, all of which are highly visited game areas in Kenya. The country bordering southern Kenya is Tanzania, home of the world-famous Mt. Kilimanjaro.

 
Population: 40 million
 
Religions: Protestant 46%, Catholic 34%, Islam 10%, Ethnoreligious 8%, Baha’i 1%, Hindu 0.5%, Jain 0.2%, Sikh 0.1%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, non-African 1%.
 
Languages: Gikuyu 16.7%, Luyia 10.7%, Luo 10.0%, Kalenjin 7.7%, Kamba 7.7%, Gusii 4.9%, Meru 4.1%, Giryama 1.9%, Bukusu 1.7%, Maasai 1.4%, Embu 1.3%, Swahili (official) 0.4%, English (official). There are 61 living languages in Kenya.
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History

According to fossils found in the area, suggesting that Kenya was inhabited by primates more than 20 million years ago. Scientists believe that hominids lived in East Africa, near Kenya’s Lake Turkana, approximately 2.6 million years ago. 

 
Around 2000 BC, people moved from Sudan and Ethiopia and were soon trading with Arabs frequenting the Kenyan coast around the 1st century AD. Arab and Persian settlements sprung up around the coast by the early 8th century, and during the first millennium AD, Nilotic and Bantu peoples moved into the region. These days, the Bantu comprise two thirds of Kenya’s population and Swahili, their language, developed as the preferred language of trading in the region, incorporating Arabic words along the way.
 
Arab dominance of the coast was interrupted when the Portuguese arrived in 1498 and quickly began colonizing the region. By the mid-1800s, British exploration of East Africa led to the establishment of the East African protectorate in 1895. This was designed to promote settlement of the fertile central highlands by Europeans, which forced the Kikuyu off their lands. Additional areas of the Rift Valley, then inhabited by the Masai, were also handed over to Europeans, along with some of the western highlands, inhabited by the Kalenjin.
 
British settlers were allowed a voice in the Kenyan government even before Kenya was officially made a British colony in 1920. But Africans were prohibited from political participation until 1944. At that time, a few appointed African representatives were allowed to attend legislative sessions.
 
From 1952 to 1959, Kenya existed in a state of emergency due to the Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule. The rebellion happened almost exclusively in the highlands of central Kenya, among the Kikuyu people. Tens of thousands died in the fighting or in detention camps. In contrast, the British Army lost 650 men. But as a result of the uprising, Africans were allowed to participate more directly in the government.
 
In 1957, the first elections for Africans to the Legislative Council took place, and increased participation in government led to Kenya’s independence on December 12, 1963. Jomo Kenyatta, an ethnic Kikuyu and head of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), became Kenya’s first President. In 1964, Kenya joined the British Commonwealth.
 
A small but significant leftist opposition party, the Kenya People’s Union (KPU), was formed in 1966, led by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, a former vice president and Luo elder. The KPU was banned shortly thereafter, and its leader detained. KANU became Kenya’s sole political party. When Kenyatta died in August 1978, Vice President Daniel arap Moi, a Kalenjin from Rift Valley province, became interim president. By October of that year, Moi became president, after he was elected head of KANU and designated as the sole nominee for the presidential election.
 
In June 1982, the National Assembly amended the constitution, making Kenya a one-party state. Two months later, young military officers attempted to overthrow the government in a violent but ultimately unsuccessful coup. Street protests erupted, and the country’s parliament soon repealed the one-party section of the constitution in December 1991.
 
In 1992, Kenya’s first multi-party elections were held. Moi retained the presidency in 1992 and again in 1997. Following the 1997 election, Kenya experienced its first coalition government, as KANU cobbled together a majority by adding a few minor parties.
 
In October 2002, a coalition of opposition parties formed the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). In December of that year, the NARC candidate, Mwai Kibaki, was elected the country’s third president.
 
In 2003, internal conflicts disrupted the NARC government when officials put the draft of a new constitution to a public referendum. This referendum was defeated soundly, with support from two candidates running for president against Kibaki.
 
In September 2007, President Kibaki and his allies formed the coalition Party of National Unity (PNU). KANU joined the PNU coalition, although it served in parliament as the official opposition party. In December of that year, Kenya held presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections. The presidential election was considered seriously flawed, with irregularities in vote tabulation, as well as turnout in excess of 100% in some areas.
 
On December 30, the chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya declared incumbent Mwai Kibaki as the winner of the presidential election. Violence erupted in different parts of Kenya as supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga and supporters of Kibaki clashed with police and one another. More than 1,000 Kenyans died, and about 60,000 people became refugees. Negotiation teams representing PNU and ODM began talks under the auspices of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Panel of Eminent African Persons (Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania and Graca Machel of Mozambique).
 
On February 28, 2008, President Kibaki and Raila Odinga signed a power-sharing agreement. Odinga became the prime minister, while two new deputy prime minister positions were created. Cabinet posts were to be filled according to the parties’ proportional representation in parliament.
 
On March 18, 2008, the Kenyan parliament amended the constitution and adopted legislation to give legal force to the agreement. On April 17, 2008, the new coalition cabinet and Prime Minister Odinga were sworn in. Negotiations are ongoing regarding longer-term reform issues, including constitutional reform, land tenure reform, judicial reform, and the need to address poverty and inequality.
 
On November 5, 2008, the Kenyan people celebrated the election of Barack Obama to be the 44th President of the United States. November 6, 2008, was declared a public holiday in Kenya.
 
On December 11, 2008, Kenyan parliament passes the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act regulating media in Kenya. Critics say the bill meant to suppress the freedom of press, while the Kenyan government denies it.
 
In early August of 2009, the 8th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) conference was held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi. Hillary Clinton, the United States Secretary of State, was among the speakers.
 
History of Kenya (Wikipedia)
Country Profile: Kenya (Library of Congress) (pdf)
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History of U.S. Relations with Kenya

Since its independence in 1963, Kenya has enjoyed cordial relations with the United States.  

The American Embassy was established in the capital city of Nairobi on Kenya’s independence day, December 12, 1963.
 
On August 7, 1998, Al Qaeda terrorists bombed the US Embassy in Nairobi, killing hundreds and maiming thousands more. Since then, the US and Kenya have been working closely to address security issues in Kenya. The United States provides equipment and training to Kenyan security forces, both civilian and military. In its dialog with the Kenyan government, the United States urges effective action against corruption and insecurity as the two greatest impediments to Kenya achieving sustained, rapid economic growth.
 
Although overall relations between Kenya and the United States have been cordial, the United States government has expressed frustrations with the Kenyan government. Both former President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama have tried to apply pressure to the Kenyan government to reduce political corruption, while US-based NGOs have expressed concerns about human rights violations in Kenya.
 
US President-elect Barack Obama’s father was originally from Kenya, and when Obama won the presidency on November 4, 2008, many Kenyans, gathered at the home of his grandmother, were filmed rejoicing. “We are going to Obama, we’re going to the White House,” villagers sang in the local Luo language.
 
U.S. Military Activities in Kenya (by Daniel Volman, African Security Research Project)
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Current U.S. Relations with Kenya

Famous Kenyan-Americans

 
Barack Obama is currently the 44th President of the United States and is the first African American to hold the office. Obama’s father, Barack Obama, Sr., was a government economist in Kenya.
 
Bernard Lagat is a Kenyan-born middle and long-distance runner who now represents the United States. Lagat won the US Olympic Trials in the 1500 m and 5000 m, making the US Olympic team in both events. At the 2007 world championships,he won both the 1500 meters and the 5000 meters.
 
Tom Morello is a Grammy-Award winning American guitarist known for his performances in the bands Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and his solo act The Nightwatchman. Morello is of Kenyan descent on his father’s side. His father was a participant in the Mau Mau Uprising and was Kenya’s first ambassador to the United Nations. 
 
The United States considers Kenya a vital partner in the war on terrorism and a regional economic and military powerhouse whose stability has stood in stark contrast to war-ravaged neighbors such as Sudan and Somalia.
 
Kenya has long been a key military partner of the United States and a major African recipient of US military assistance. The Pentagon gave Kenya $1.6 million worth of weaponry and other military assistance in 2006 and an estimated $2.5 million in 2007 through its Foreign Military Sales Program. In 2008 the Bush Administration planned to provide Kenya with $800,000 in Foreign Military Financing Program funds to pay for further arms purchases. Kenya has also been permitted to make large arms deals directly with private American arms producers through the State Department’s Direct Commercial Sales Program. Kenya took delivery of $1.9 million worth of arms this way in 2005, got an estimated $867,000 worth in 2007, and would receive another $3.1 million in 2008.
 
In February of 2008, President Bush visited Kenya and urged Kenyan President Kibaki to compromise with his opposition. Bush told Kibaki that the US would not support a Kenya that was going to continue on with business as usual and ignore the changes America was encouraging.
 
The United States is also providing training and equipment to Kenya’s military, internal security, and police forces through several global and regional programs. The East Africa Counter-Terrorism Initiative provides training to Kenya as well as to Uganda, Tanzania, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. The Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) Program, created in 1983 by the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, provides training, equipment, and technology to countries to fight terrorism. The largest ATA program in Africa is targeted at Kenya, where it helped create the Kenyan Antiterrorism Police Unit (KAPU) in 2004 to conduct anti-terrorism operations, the Joint Terrorism Task Force in 2004 to coordinate anti-terrorism activities. According to the Budget for Foreign Operations, the US planned to fund anti-terrorism training programs for 274 Kenyans in 2008, 359 in 2009, and 410 in 2010.
 
The United States Africa Command, also known as AFRICOM, is a Unified Combatant Command of the US Department of Defense. The stated goal of AFRICOM is to play a supportive role for Africans building democratic institutions across the continent and to oversee US military operations and military relations with 53 African nations, including Kenya. Established October 1, 2007, AFRICOM has led to the implementation of several Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) and Forward Operating Sites (FOSs) across the African continent. In addition, the Bush administration negotiated base access agreements with the government of Kenya that allow American troops to use these CSLs and FOSs whenever the United States wants to deploy its own troops in Africa.
 
In April 2009, the annual Land Forces Symposium (LFS) met at the Serena Beach Hotel, Mombasa, Kenya. Military leaders from 24 countries in CENTCOM’s and AFRICOM’s target areas met together and collaborated on issues within regional security organizations, full spectrum operations and training, disaster relief, interagency operations, Provincial Reconstruction Teams, and environmental security concerns. Co-hosting LFS 2009 with President Mwai Kibaki was Lt. General Jackson Tuwei, Kenya Army commander and Lt. General James Lovelace, US Army Central commanding general.
 
The Peace Corps, which usually has 150 volunteers in Kenya, is integral to the overall US assistance strategy in Kenya. Peace Corps volunteers were withdrawn from Kenya due to instability and civil unrest in early 2008, but the program resumed operations within a few months.
 
US assistance to Kenya is substantial. It promotes broad-based economic development as the basis for continued progress in political, social, and related areas. The US assistance strategy is built around five objectives: Fighting disease and improving healthcare, fighting poverty and promoting private sector-led prosperity, advancing shared democratic values, human rights, and good governance, cooperating to fight insecurity and terrorism, and collaborating to foster peace and stability in East Africa.
 
US business investment is estimated to be more than $285 million, primarily in commerce, light manufacturing and the tourism industry.
 
Fifty percent of Kenyans living in the US are located in Washington, DC. Other population centers include Texas, California, and parts of the Midwest.
 
In 2006, 14,909 Kenyans visited the US. The number of visitors remained around 14,000 from 2003-2006, after a drop from 2002 when 17,275 Kenyans traveled to the US.
 
Currently, more than 9,000 US citizens are registered with the US Embassy as residents of Kenya. In 2007, almost 100,000 Americans visited Kenya, up 18% from 2006. About two-thirds of resident Americans are missionaries and their families.
 
With the election of Barack Obama to the United States Presidency, Kenyans were jubilant and declared the day following the election, November 6, 2008, a public holiday. However, relations between President Obama and Kenya since his election have been tense. Obama’s choice to not visit Kenya on his first visit to Africa as President of the US led some to believe that he was taking a stand to show US disapproval of rampant corruption and nepotism in political circles.
 
Kenya-US facts and history of relations (US Department of State)
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Where Does the Money Flow

According to the US Ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, about $2 billion flows between the United States and Kenya every year via aid, investments, tourism and remittances.

 
Reports from 2006 to 2009 show that the highest US export sectors to Kenya are transportation and agriculture. In both 2008,the US exported $138 million to Kenya in the transportation sector, and $138 million in 2009. In 2008, the US exported $6 million to Kenya in agriculture, and in 2009 that figure jumped to $123 million. The top agricultural exports to Kenya from 2008 include sorghum, barley, and oats at $21 million, corn at $14 million, and wheat at $11 million. The top transportation exports to Kenya from 2008 include civilian aircraft, engines, and parts at $104 million, materials handling equipment at $30 million, and electric equipment at $10 million.
 
The current top two sectors of US imports from Kenya are agricultural products and textiles. In 2009, the US imported $156 million from Kenya in the textile department. That same year, the US imported $46 million from Kenya in the agricultural sector. The top textile products imported from Kenya in 2008 include apparel and household cotton goods at $199 million. The top agricultural products imported from Kenya in 2008 include green coffee at $36 million and tea and spices at $13 million.
 
In 2008, the total amount of US aid to Kenya totaled $683 million, ranging from development assistance, global health and child survival, food aid, transition initiatives and international disaster assistance. In 2009, Kenya is currently estimated to have received $700 million in US aid.
 
The 2008 Budget for Foreign Operations requested $540.4 million for aid to Kenya. The majority of this increase is due to the enlargement of the HIV/AIDS program to $481 million. Kenya will also receive HIV/AIDS funding through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR), independent of the Foreign Operations Budget. Along with combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic, a majority of the “investing in people” programs under the Budget for Foreign Operations combat malaria, as well as providing for maternal and child health, and family planning in order to gain some control on increasing poverty rates. According to the Budget, one program element of US foreign assistance to Kenya consists of providing funding for insecticide treated nets to prevent the spread of malaria. The result of 2008 funds from the US provided 600,000 nets, and the targeted amount for 2009 was 690,000 nets.
 
Kenya’s economy generates much income from its agriculture and tourism. Since these two economic giants of Kenya depend heavily on the management of the country’s natural resources, the US foreign assistance budget provides funding to enhance the competitiveness of Kenya’s agricultural commodities, including increasing the productivity of the land. In 2008, US funds for the environment in Kenya provided improved management for 152,630 hectares of land, and in 2009, 113,100 hectares were targeted to be improved.
 
There are several American companies with strong ties and investments in KenyaThese include GM, Microsoft, Eveready Easat Africa, Coca-Cola, Citigroup, and Ecolab.
 
Kenya: Country Asks US to Improve Textiles Deal (Kevin J. Kelley, AllAfrica.com)
US-KENYA OPEN SKIES AGREEMENT SIGNING (US Department of Transportation)
Africa’s trade soars with US as labor rights languish (by Charles Davis, FinalCall.com News)
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Controversies

Obama Photo Sparks Demonstration, Controversy

In February 2008, residents of a remote Kenya down announced their plans to stage a demonstration over a photo of presidential hopeful Barack Obama in Somali dress. Obama’s Democratic presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton, along with others in the United States, engaged in “the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering” of the election season, according to residents, by saying or implying Obama was a Muslim. Wajir residents offered prayers to support Obama, and the Somali Justice Advocacy Center asked for an apology from the Clinton campaign.
 
Slum Tourism Raises Controversy
In February 2007, Reuters reported that the film The Constant Gardener, nominated for several Academy Awards, had helped to spur “slum tourism,” where tourists hire travel agencies to take them to Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum, to get an up-close look at the poverty and deprivation. Even well intentioned visits by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and comedian Chris Rock have drawn criticism from Kenyans, who view this as an insult to their country and people. Many suggest viewing other aspects of the country and giving increased help to clean up deprived neighborhoods.
“Slum tourism” stirs controversy in Kenya (by Andrew Cawthorne, Reuters)
 
Kenya’s Terror Bill Sparks Controversy
In December 2003, Kenya introduced a new terror bill meant to discourage and punish terrorist activity in the country. But human rights groups quickly banded together to oppose the bill, saying it would infringe on the rights of Kenyans by including the possibility of life imprisonment and extradition of suspects without normal legal safeguards. The bill also allows police to detain suspects incommunicado for an unspecified amount of time without trial and to confiscate their assets. Some have suggested that the bill was forced on Kenya by the US, which has endured two terror attacks in Kenya in recent years.
RIGHTS-KENYA: Terror Bill Sparks Controversy (by Joyce Mulama, Inter Press Service)
 
American Reality Shows Stirs Controversy
In 2001, the reality television show Survivor was shot in Kenya and quickly raised controversy among environmental groups who objected to filming in the Shaba Game Reserve, which is home to the Serengeti, along with all kinds of animal and plant life. Though executives paid $250,000 to lease most of the park for four months, environmentalists said it would not pay for the damage done by contestants and crew members. The show came at a time when Kenyan tourism was at an all time low, due mostly to political instability and ethnic fighting.
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Human Rights

According to the Amnesty International 2009 Report, the government failed to put in place a plan to bring to justice those responsible for human rights abuses committed during post-election violence, which subsided early in 2008, or to guarantee reparations for the victims. State security officials continued to torture and kill suspects with impunity. Violence against women and girls remained widespread. The government did not impose a moratorium on forced evictions. Public health facilities were poorly funded, equipped and maintained.

 
Post-Election violence
Following the controversial December 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections, more than 1,000 people were killed in politically motivated ethnic violence and associated police killings. More than 30,000 people have been estimated to be displaced from their homes and about 12,000 crossed into Uganda as refugees. In November, the government announced its support for the implementation of an investigation of facts by the Commission of Inquiry on Post Election Violence (CIPEV).
 
Internally Displaced People and Forced Evictions
The Amnesty International Report from 2009 states that in May 2009 the government launched “Operation Rudi Nyumbani” (Operation go home) in order to assist more than 300,000 people who had been displaced by the post-election violence to return home. Some reports claim that up to 600,000 people have been displaced due to the post-election violence. A research report in late October 2009 from the Kenya Human Rights Commission found that most IDP’s had not returned to their original homes. By the end of the year there was neither a legal framework for the displaced nor a national strategy to deal with the issue of forced displacement in Kenya.
 
The government planned to implement a Task Force on the Mau Forest complex to compensate the thousands of people who had been forcibly evicted from the Mau Forest complex in 2006. However, by the end of 2008 the Task Force had not completed its work and hundreds of families living in informal settlements close to the Nairobi River were living under the threat of forced evictions by the government.
 
Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission
In October 2008, a law establishing a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) was passed by Parliament that would investigate human rights violations committed between December 1963 and February 2008. TJRC would not guarantee a comprehensive protection program for victim and witnesses, and fell short of ensuring a broad range of reparations for victims of human rights violations. By the end of the year TJRC had not been formed.
 
Refugees and Human Rights Violations
In March 2008, the government launched a joint police-military operation called “Operation Okoa Maisha” (“Operation Save Life”) in the Mount Elgon area in western Kenya. This operation was intended to target against the Sabaot Land Defense Forces, an armed militia blamed for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses. There had been reports of unlawful killings by these military personnel and cases of families complaining that their relatives had disappeared. The government denied these reports, but failed to ensure an independent investigation into the allegations.
 
The government failed to investigate allegations of torture and unlawful killings committed by the police in 2007, including the shooting and killing of hundreds of people in the course of security operations against members of the banned Mungiki group.
 
Also from the Amnesty International Report from 2009, refugees and asylum-seekers were fleeing into Kenya due to the escalation of the conflict in Somalia in 2007 and 2008. These refugees faced harassment by Kenyan security personnel at the border; many were arrested, beaten and forced back into Somalia. Some had to pay bribes to security officials (partly as a result of the official decision to maintain the formal closure of the border) in order to gain access into Kenya. As of March 2009, there were still reports on the uncertainty of how to handle Kenya’s Somali refugee crisis.
 
Security concerns, including rape, banditry, and shooting, remained problems at both Dadaab and Kakumarefugee camps. Health and social workers at the camps reported that due to strong rape awareness programs, rape incidents were better reported by victims, resulting in improved access to counseling.
 
Violence against Women and Girls
Amnesty International reports that during the post-election violence and in the conflict in the Mount Elgon area, women and girls were subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence. Alleged perpetrators of gender-based violence, including the police and other law enforcement officials, were hardly ever brought to justice.
 
The law provides equal rights to men and women and specifically prohibits discrimination on grounds of gender. But women experienced a wide range of discriminatory practices in matrimonial rights, property ownership, and inheritance rights. They also face a justice system that often discriminates against women, and customary laws grounded in patriarchal traditions, limiting their political and economic rights and relegating them to second-class citizenship. Child rape and molestation continued to be serious problems.
 
Child prostitution increased in recent years due to both poverty and the increase in the number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Strong growth in the tourism industry led to a large increase in foreign and domestic tourists seeking sex with underage girls and boys.
 
The law does not explicitly prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, although the Sexual Offenses Act and the Children’s Act criminalize trafficking of children and trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Persons were trafficked to, from, and within the country.
 
Prison and Detention Centers
Prison and detention center conditions continued to be harsh and life threatening, although the government attempted to make some improvements. Prisoners generally received three meals per day, but portions were inadequate, and prisoners were sometimes given half rations as punishment. Water shortages continued to be a problem.
 
Prison personnel stated that the rape of male and female inmates, primarily by fellow inmates, continued. Media reports indicated that it was also common for prison officials to rape female inmates. Hundreds of prisoners died annually from infectious diseases spread by overcrowding, unhygienic conditions, and inadequate medical treatment.
 
Police frequentlyarrested and detained citizens arbitrarily. Police, colluding with prosecutors, resorted to illegal confinement, extortion, torture, and fabricated charges as a cover-up for malpractice.
 
Kenya Human Rights (Amnesty International USA)
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Note: Embassy Nairobi was established Dec 12, 1963, with Laurence C. Vass as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.

 
William Attwood
Appointment: Feb 20, 1964
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 2, 1964
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited when Kenya became a republic; presented new credentials Jan 28, 1965; left post, May 1, 1966
 
Glenn W. Ferguson
Appointment: Sep 16, 1966
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 4, 1966
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 7, 1969
 
Robinson McIlvaine
Appointment: Sep 15, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 30, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 4, 1973
 
Anthony D. Marshall
Appointment: Dec 19, 1973
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 22, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 26, 1977
Note: Also accredited to the Seychelles; resident at Nairobi.
 
Wilbert John LeMelle
Appointment: May 11, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 10, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 28, 1980
Note: Also accredited to the Seychelles; resident at Nairobi.
 
William Caldwell Harrop
Appointment: May 23, 1980
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 10, 1980
Termination of Mission: Sep 1, 1983
Note: Also accredited to the Seychelles; resident at Nairobi.
 
Gerald Eustis Thomas
Appointment: Oct 7, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 9, 1983
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 29, 1989
 
Elinor Greer Constable
Appointment: Oct 16, 1986
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 11, 1986
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 29, 1989
 
Smith Hempstone, Jr.
Appointment: Nov 6, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 7, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 26, 1993
 
Aurelia Erskine Brazeal
Appointment: Aug 9, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 21, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 11, 1996
 
Prudence Bushnell
Appointment: Jun 11, 1996
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 2, 1996
Termination of Mission: Left post May 22, 1999
 
Johnnie Carson
Appointment: Jul 7, 1999
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 23, 1999
Termination of Mission: Jul 6, 2003
 
William M. Bellamy
Appointment: Apr 16, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 9, 2003
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 25, 2006
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Kenya's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Odembo, Elkanah

Elkanah Odembo began serving as Kenya’s Ambassador to the United States in June 2010.

 
Odembo earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Sociology at Bowdoin College in 1980 and was a member of the soccer team. He went on to add a Master’s degree in Public Health (Epidemiology) at the University of Texas.
 
Odembo’s first job was Research Officer for Nairobi’s African Medical Research Foundation in its Community Health Division. He then joined the Ford Foundation as a consultant to its Coordinator of Africa Philanthropy Initiative. He subsequently served as East Africa Representative for World Neighbors.
 
Odembo was then appointed as Chairman of the Kenya Community Development Foundation, and Lead Facilitator for the Kenya Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Consultation Process. He also became a member of the UNDP Africa 2000 Project selection committee.
 
Odembo was a member of the National Committee for Social Dimensions of Development, and the NGO Coordination Board of Kenya. Additionally, he was a founding member of the NGO Coalition for East Africa, a member of the National Advisory Committee for Health Research, Chairperson of the Kenya National Council for Non-Governmental Organizations (1997-1999), and Founding Director of Ufadhili Trust (Centre for Philanthropy and Social Responsibility).
 
In January 2009, Odembo was appointed Kenya’s Ambassador to France.
 
Odembo is a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative, and a Synergos Senior Fellow.
 
He and his wife, Aoko Midiwo-Odembo, have two children. Among the positions Midiwo-Odembo has held are planning officer for the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology, contract manager for the African Medical Research Foundation, and liaison coordinator for The Carter Center in Nairobi. Her brother, Jakoyo Midiwo, is a member of parliament, and her first cousin, Raila Odinga, is the prime minister of Kenya.
 

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Kenya's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Kenya

Godec, Robert
ambassador-image

President Barack Obama has nominated career diplomat Robert F. Godec to be the next ambassador to the East African nation of Kenya. If confirmed, Godec, who has served as chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Nairobi since August 27, would succeed political appointee Scott Gration, who resigned from his position last June over “differences in leadership styles and priorities with Washington.” 

 

Born circa 1957 to Robert F. Godec and Nancy (Dietrich) Godec, Godec graduated from W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia, in 1975. He went on to earn a B.A. in Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia, where he was associate news editor on the student newspaper The Daily Cavalier, and an M.A. in International Relations at Yale University.

 

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, Godec joined the State Department in 1985. Now focused on Africa and the Middle East, earlier in his career Godec worked on relations with Southeast Asia, serving as director for Southeast Asian Affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative from 1992 to 1994, and as assistant office director for Thailand and Burma in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1994 to 1996.

 

Godec has served in Kenya once before, as economic counselor at the embassy in Nairobi from 1996 to 1999, followed by additional African experience as minister counselor for Economic Affairs at the embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, from 1999 to 2002, concurrently filling the post of acting deputy chief of mission in 2002. In Washington, Godec served as deputy coordinator for the Transition in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, and as deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from 2005 to 2006.

 

From 2006 to 2009, Godec was the U.S. ambassador to Tunisia, his first ambassadorship. According to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, Godec was quite critical of the regime of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, describing his “sclerotic regime,” as a “police state” mired in corruption, an evaluation that was much-appreciated by pro-democracy forces in Tunisia when it was made public. Back in Washington, Godec served as principal deputy coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department from 2009 to 2012.

 

Godec speaks French and German, although neither of these will be especially helpful in Kenya, a former British colony. He has been married to Lori G. Magnusson since May 1986.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Democratic Movements (by Steve Coll, New Yorker)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Kenya

Ranneberger, Michael
ambassador-image

Michael E. Ranneberger was sworn in as the new United States Ambassador to Kenya on July 31, 2006. Ranneberger obtained a BA from Towson State University in Baltimore and an MA in history from the University of Virginia.

 
He was Angola Desk Officer during 1981-1984, where he worked as a member of Assistant Secretary Crocker’s team. After working as a special assistant to Under Secretary Armacost from 1984 to 1985, he was awarded an International Affairs Fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations.
 
His service as Deputy Chief of Mission in Maputo from 1986 to 1989 included eight months as charge during the civil war, at a time when the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) emergency assistance program in Mozambique was one of the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. From 1989-1992, Ranneberger served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Asuncion, and while Deputy Director for Central American Affairs during 1992-1994, he helped oversee implementation of the peace accords in El Salvador and efforts to end the internal conflict in Guatemala.
 
In August 1994, he became Deputy Chief of Mission in Mogadishu. Ranneberger spent six months in Haiti setting up and running an inter-agency Task Force on Justice and Security-Related Issues before becoming Coordinator for Cuban Affairs from July 1995 to July 1999.
 
From 1999 to 2002, he was ambassador to the Republic of Mali. He served as special advisor on Sudan from 2002 to 2004 and was the Africa Bureau’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary from 2004 to 2005.
 
In 2006, he became the senior representative on Sudan in the Bureau of African Affairs.
 
In May 2009, some Kenyan leaders expressed slight displeasure with Ranneberger Nicholas Gumbo, a Member of Parliament from the Rarieda party, was quoted saying “Ranneberger is behaving like a governor. He has no respect for elected leaders”. Additional members of Parliament have expressed disappointment at the way Ranneberger has handled the reform agenda.
 
On September 24, 2009, Ranneberger reported that the US was sending warning letters to 15 prominent Kenyans who are currently supposed obstacles to reform in Kenya. The warning stated that in order for Washington to continue providing future aid deals that benefit Kenyans, the leaders of Kenya need to implement long-delayed reforms that will stamp out corruption and rights abuses.
 

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Overview

Kenya is a country in eastern Africa, occupying a coastal strip of white sand beaches, a temperate highland region, and the Serengeti, a series of semiarid plains where much of Africa’s famous animals live. The country is bordered by Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, and also by Lake Victoria. Kenya was settled around 2000 BC first by Arab and Persian settlements, who settled the coastal regions, then by the Bantu and Portuguese, who arrived in the 15th century. Kenya became a British colony in 1920, however many Kenyans were unhappy with their relationship with the British colonists, which led to uprisings against the colonial government. Specifically, the Mau Mau Uprising from 1952 to 1960 was a great, though unsuccessful, movement of Kenyan peasants against British rule that encouraged Kenyan independence. On December 12, 1963, Kenya gained independence from the British under the government of Jomo Kenyatta, who would become the first president of independent Kenya. Though the country has been comprised of several opposition parties for several years now, the 2007 elections proved to be seriously flawed, with turnout in excess of 100% in some areas. Incumbent Mwai Kibaki was finally declared president in December 2007, and soon signed a power-sharing agreement with members of the coalition government. In November 2008, Barack Obama, whose father was from Kenya, sparked nationwide celebrations in Kenya when he won the US presidency.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Straddling the equator on the east coast of Africa, Kenya is a land of great geographical variety. The steamy coastal strip with its white powdery beaches and tropical palms contrasts sharply with the undulating fields of wheat and corn growing in the temperate central highland region in the shadow of snowcapped Mount Kenya. In between are semiarid plains where many of the wild African animals, for which Kenya is so famous, dwell. In the north, a great desert extends into the territory of Kenya’s northern neighbors, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Sudan. In the west, Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, forms much of Kenya’s border with Uganda. To the south are the Amboseli plains, teeming with game, as is the Masai Mara National reserve and the Nakuru National Park, all of which are highly visited game areas in Kenya. The country bordering southern Kenya is Tanzania, home of the world-famous Mt. Kilimanjaro.

 
Population: 40 million
 
Religions: Protestant 46%, Catholic 34%, Islam 10%, Ethnoreligious 8%, Baha’i 1%, Hindu 0.5%, Jain 0.2%, Sikh 0.1%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, non-African 1%.
 
Languages: Gikuyu 16.7%, Luyia 10.7%, Luo 10.0%, Kalenjin 7.7%, Kamba 7.7%, Gusii 4.9%, Meru 4.1%, Giryama 1.9%, Bukusu 1.7%, Maasai 1.4%, Embu 1.3%, Swahili (official) 0.4%, English (official). There are 61 living languages in Kenya.
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History

According to fossils found in the area, suggesting that Kenya was inhabited by primates more than 20 million years ago. Scientists believe that hominids lived in East Africa, near Kenya’s Lake Turkana, approximately 2.6 million years ago. 

 
Around 2000 BC, people moved from Sudan and Ethiopia and were soon trading with Arabs frequenting the Kenyan coast around the 1st century AD. Arab and Persian settlements sprung up around the coast by the early 8th century, and during the first millennium AD, Nilotic and Bantu peoples moved into the region. These days, the Bantu comprise two thirds of Kenya’s population and Swahili, their language, developed as the preferred language of trading in the region, incorporating Arabic words along the way.
 
Arab dominance of the coast was interrupted when the Portuguese arrived in 1498 and quickly began colonizing the region. By the mid-1800s, British exploration of East Africa led to the establishment of the East African protectorate in 1895. This was designed to promote settlement of the fertile central highlands by Europeans, which forced the Kikuyu off their lands. Additional areas of the Rift Valley, then inhabited by the Masai, were also handed over to Europeans, along with some of the western highlands, inhabited by the Kalenjin.
 
British settlers were allowed a voice in the Kenyan government even before Kenya was officially made a British colony in 1920. But Africans were prohibited from political participation until 1944. At that time, a few appointed African representatives were allowed to attend legislative sessions.
 
From 1952 to 1959, Kenya existed in a state of emergency due to the Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule. The rebellion happened almost exclusively in the highlands of central Kenya, among the Kikuyu people. Tens of thousands died in the fighting or in detention camps. In contrast, the British Army lost 650 men. But as a result of the uprising, Africans were allowed to participate more directly in the government.
 
In 1957, the first elections for Africans to the Legislative Council took place, and increased participation in government led to Kenya’s independence on December 12, 1963. Jomo Kenyatta, an ethnic Kikuyu and head of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), became Kenya’s first President. In 1964, Kenya joined the British Commonwealth.
 
A small but significant leftist opposition party, the Kenya People’s Union (KPU), was formed in 1966, led by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, a former vice president and Luo elder. The KPU was banned shortly thereafter, and its leader detained. KANU became Kenya’s sole political party. When Kenyatta died in August 1978, Vice President Daniel arap Moi, a Kalenjin from Rift Valley province, became interim president. By October of that year, Moi became president, after he was elected head of KANU and designated as the sole nominee for the presidential election.
 
In June 1982, the National Assembly amended the constitution, making Kenya a one-party state. Two months later, young military officers attempted to overthrow the government in a violent but ultimately unsuccessful coup. Street protests erupted, and the country’s parliament soon repealed the one-party section of the constitution in December 1991.
 
In 1992, Kenya’s first multi-party elections were held. Moi retained the presidency in 1992 and again in 1997. Following the 1997 election, Kenya experienced its first coalition government, as KANU cobbled together a majority by adding a few minor parties.
 
In October 2002, a coalition of opposition parties formed the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). In December of that year, the NARC candidate, Mwai Kibaki, was elected the country’s third president.
 
In 2003, internal conflicts disrupted the NARC government when officials put the draft of a new constitution to a public referendum. This referendum was defeated soundly, with support from two candidates running for president against Kibaki.
 
In September 2007, President Kibaki and his allies formed the coalition Party of National Unity (PNU). KANU joined the PNU coalition, although it served in parliament as the official opposition party. In December of that year, Kenya held presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections. The presidential election was considered seriously flawed, with irregularities in vote tabulation, as well as turnout in excess of 100% in some areas.
 
On December 30, the chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya declared incumbent Mwai Kibaki as the winner of the presidential election. Violence erupted in different parts of Kenya as supporters of opposition candidate Raila Odinga and supporters of Kibaki clashed with police and one another. More than 1,000 Kenyans died, and about 60,000 people became refugees. Negotiation teams representing PNU and ODM began talks under the auspices of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Panel of Eminent African Persons (Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania and Graca Machel of Mozambique).
 
On February 28, 2008, President Kibaki and Raila Odinga signed a power-sharing agreement. Odinga became the prime minister, while two new deputy prime minister positions were created. Cabinet posts were to be filled according to the parties’ proportional representation in parliament.
 
On March 18, 2008, the Kenyan parliament amended the constitution and adopted legislation to give legal force to the agreement. On April 17, 2008, the new coalition cabinet and Prime Minister Odinga were sworn in. Negotiations are ongoing regarding longer-term reform issues, including constitutional reform, land tenure reform, judicial reform, and the need to address poverty and inequality.
 
On November 5, 2008, the Kenyan people celebrated the election of Barack Obama to be the 44th President of the United States. November 6, 2008, was declared a public holiday in Kenya.
 
On December 11, 2008, Kenyan parliament passes the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Act regulating media in Kenya. Critics say the bill meant to suppress the freedom of press, while the Kenyan government denies it.
 
In early August of 2009, the 8th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) conference was held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi. Hillary Clinton, the United States Secretary of State, was among the speakers.
 
History of Kenya (Wikipedia)
Country Profile: Kenya (Library of Congress) (pdf)
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History of U.S. Relations with Kenya

Since its independence in 1963, Kenya has enjoyed cordial relations with the United States.  

The American Embassy was established in the capital city of Nairobi on Kenya’s independence day, December 12, 1963.
 
On August 7, 1998, Al Qaeda terrorists bombed the US Embassy in Nairobi, killing hundreds and maiming thousands more. Since then, the US and Kenya have been working closely to address security issues in Kenya. The United States provides equipment and training to Kenyan security forces, both civilian and military. In its dialog with the Kenyan government, the United States urges effective action against corruption and insecurity as the two greatest impediments to Kenya achieving sustained, rapid economic growth.
 
Although overall relations between Kenya and the United States have been cordial, the United States government has expressed frustrations with the Kenyan government. Both former President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama have tried to apply pressure to the Kenyan government to reduce political corruption, while US-based NGOs have expressed concerns about human rights violations in Kenya.
 
US President-elect Barack Obama’s father was originally from Kenya, and when Obama won the presidency on November 4, 2008, many Kenyans, gathered at the home of his grandmother, were filmed rejoicing. “We are going to Obama, we’re going to the White House,” villagers sang in the local Luo language.
 
U.S. Military Activities in Kenya (by Daniel Volman, African Security Research Project)
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Current U.S. Relations with Kenya

Famous Kenyan-Americans

 
Barack Obama is currently the 44th President of the United States and is the first African American to hold the office. Obama’s father, Barack Obama, Sr., was a government economist in Kenya.
 
Bernard Lagat is a Kenyan-born middle and long-distance runner who now represents the United States. Lagat won the US Olympic Trials in the 1500 m and 5000 m, making the US Olympic team in both events. At the 2007 world championships,he won both the 1500 meters and the 5000 meters.
 
Tom Morello is a Grammy-Award winning American guitarist known for his performances in the bands Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and his solo act The Nightwatchman. Morello is of Kenyan descent on his father’s side. His father was a participant in the Mau Mau Uprising and was Kenya’s first ambassador to the United Nations. 
 
The United States considers Kenya a vital partner in the war on terrorism and a regional economic and military powerhouse whose stability has stood in stark contrast to war-ravaged neighbors such as Sudan and Somalia.
 
Kenya has long been a key military partner of the United States and a major African recipient of US military assistance. The Pentagon gave Kenya $1.6 million worth of weaponry and other military assistance in 2006 and an estimated $2.5 million in 2007 through its Foreign Military Sales Program. In 2008 the Bush Administration planned to provide Kenya with $800,000 in Foreign Military Financing Program funds to pay for further arms purchases. Kenya has also been permitted to make large arms deals directly with private American arms producers through the State Department’s Direct Commercial Sales Program. Kenya took delivery of $1.9 million worth of arms this way in 2005, got an estimated $867,000 worth in 2007, and would receive another $3.1 million in 2008.
 
In February of 2008, President Bush visited Kenya and urged Kenyan President Kibaki to compromise with his opposition. Bush told Kibaki that the US would not support a Kenya that was going to continue on with business as usual and ignore the changes America was encouraging.
 
The United States is also providing training and equipment to Kenya’s military, internal security, and police forces through several global and regional programs. The East Africa Counter-Terrorism Initiative provides training to Kenya as well as to Uganda, Tanzania, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. The Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) Program, created in 1983 by the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, provides training, equipment, and technology to countries to fight terrorism. The largest ATA program in Africa is targeted at Kenya, where it helped create the Kenyan Antiterrorism Police Unit (KAPU) in 2004 to conduct anti-terrorism operations, the Joint Terrorism Task Force in 2004 to coordinate anti-terrorism activities. According to the Budget for Foreign Operations, the US planned to fund anti-terrorism training programs for 274 Kenyans in 2008, 359 in 2009, and 410 in 2010.
 
The United States Africa Command, also known as AFRICOM, is a Unified Combatant Command of the US Department of Defense. The stated goal of AFRICOM is to play a supportive role for Africans building democratic institutions across the continent and to oversee US military operations and military relations with 53 African nations, including Kenya. Established October 1, 2007, AFRICOM has led to the implementation of several Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) and Forward Operating Sites (FOSs) across the African continent. In addition, the Bush administration negotiated base access agreements with the government of Kenya that allow American troops to use these CSLs and FOSs whenever the United States wants to deploy its own troops in Africa.
 
In April 2009, the annual Land Forces Symposium (LFS) met at the Serena Beach Hotel, Mombasa, Kenya. Military leaders from 24 countries in CENTCOM’s and AFRICOM’s target areas met together and collaborated on issues within regional security organizations, full spectrum operations and training, disaster relief, interagency operations, Provincial Reconstruction Teams, and environmental security concerns. Co-hosting LFS 2009 with President Mwai Kibaki was Lt. General Jackson Tuwei, Kenya Army commander and Lt. General James Lovelace, US Army Central commanding general.
 
The Peace Corps, which usually has 150 volunteers in Kenya, is integral to the overall US assistance strategy in Kenya. Peace Corps volunteers were withdrawn from Kenya due to instability and civil unrest in early 2008, but the program resumed operations within a few months.
 
US assistance to Kenya is substantial. It promotes broad-based economic development as the basis for continued progress in political, social, and related areas. The US assistance strategy is built around five objectives: Fighting disease and improving healthcare, fighting poverty and promoting private sector-led prosperity, advancing shared democratic values, human rights, and good governance, cooperating to fight insecurity and terrorism, and collaborating to foster peace and stability in East Africa.
 
US business investment is estimated to be more than $285 million, primarily in commerce, light manufacturing and the tourism industry.
 
Fifty percent of Kenyans living in the US are located in Washington, DC. Other population centers include Texas, California, and parts of the Midwest.
 
In 2006, 14,909 Kenyans visited the US. The number of visitors remained around 14,000 from 2003-2006, after a drop from 2002 when 17,275 Kenyans traveled to the US.
 
Currently, more than 9,000 US citizens are registered with the US Embassy as residents of Kenya. In 2007, almost 100,000 Americans visited Kenya, up 18% from 2006. About two-thirds of resident Americans are missionaries and their families.
 
With the election of Barack Obama to the United States Presidency, Kenyans were jubilant and declared the day following the election, November 6, 2008, a public holiday. However, relations between President Obama and Kenya since his election have been tense. Obama’s choice to not visit Kenya on his first visit to Africa as President of the US led some to believe that he was taking a stand to show US disapproval of rampant corruption and nepotism in political circles.
 
Kenya-US facts and history of relations (US Department of State)
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Where Does the Money Flow

According to the US Ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, about $2 billion flows between the United States and Kenya every year via aid, investments, tourism and remittances.

 
Reports from 2006 to 2009 show that the highest US export sectors to Kenya are transportation and agriculture. In both 2008,the US exported $138 million to Kenya in the transportation sector, and $138 million in 2009. In 2008, the US exported $6 million to Kenya in agriculture, and in 2009 that figure jumped to $123 million. The top agricultural exports to Kenya from 2008 include sorghum, barley, and oats at $21 million, corn at $14 million, and wheat at $11 million. The top transportation exports to Kenya from 2008 include civilian aircraft, engines, and parts at $104 million, materials handling equipment at $30 million, and electric equipment at $10 million.
 
The current top two sectors of US imports from Kenya are agricultural products and textiles. In 2009, the US imported $156 million from Kenya in the textile department. That same year, the US imported $46 million from Kenya in the agricultural sector. The top textile products imported from Kenya in 2008 include apparel and household cotton goods at $199 million. The top agricultural products imported from Kenya in 2008 include green coffee at $36 million and tea and spices at $13 million.
 
In 2008, the total amount of US aid to Kenya totaled $683 million, ranging from development assistance, global health and child survival, food aid, transition initiatives and international disaster assistance. In 2009, Kenya is currently estimated to have received $700 million in US aid.
 
The 2008 Budget for Foreign Operations requested $540.4 million for aid to Kenya. The majority of this increase is due to the enlargement of the HIV/AIDS program to $481 million. Kenya will also receive HIV/AIDS funding through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR), independent of the Foreign Operations Budget. Along with combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic, a majority of the “investing in people” programs under the Budget for Foreign Operations combat malaria, as well as providing for maternal and child health, and family planning in order to gain some control on increasing poverty rates. According to the Budget, one program element of US foreign assistance to Kenya consists of providing funding for insecticide treated nets to prevent the spread of malaria. The result of 2008 funds from the US provided 600,000 nets, and the targeted amount for 2009 was 690,000 nets.
 
Kenya’s economy generates much income from its agriculture and tourism. Since these two economic giants of Kenya depend heavily on the management of the country’s natural resources, the US foreign assistance budget provides funding to enhance the competitiveness of Kenya’s agricultural commodities, including increasing the productivity of the land. In 2008, US funds for the environment in Kenya provided improved management for 152,630 hectares of land, and in 2009, 113,100 hectares were targeted to be improved.
 
There are several American companies with strong ties and investments in KenyaThese include GM, Microsoft, Eveready Easat Africa, Coca-Cola, Citigroup, and Ecolab.
 
Kenya: Country Asks US to Improve Textiles Deal (Kevin J. Kelley, AllAfrica.com)
US-KENYA OPEN SKIES AGREEMENT SIGNING (US Department of Transportation)
Africa’s trade soars with US as labor rights languish (by Charles Davis, FinalCall.com News)
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Controversies

Obama Photo Sparks Demonstration, Controversy

In February 2008, residents of a remote Kenya down announced their plans to stage a demonstration over a photo of presidential hopeful Barack Obama in Somali dress. Obama’s Democratic presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton, along with others in the United States, engaged in “the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering” of the election season, according to residents, by saying or implying Obama was a Muslim. Wajir residents offered prayers to support Obama, and the Somali Justice Advocacy Center asked for an apology from the Clinton campaign.
 
Slum Tourism Raises Controversy
In February 2007, Reuters reported that the film The Constant Gardener, nominated for several Academy Awards, had helped to spur “slum tourism,” where tourists hire travel agencies to take them to Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum, to get an up-close look at the poverty and deprivation. Even well intentioned visits by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and comedian Chris Rock have drawn criticism from Kenyans, who view this as an insult to their country and people. Many suggest viewing other aspects of the country and giving increased help to clean up deprived neighborhoods.
“Slum tourism” stirs controversy in Kenya (by Andrew Cawthorne, Reuters)
 
Kenya’s Terror Bill Sparks Controversy
In December 2003, Kenya introduced a new terror bill meant to discourage and punish terrorist activity in the country. But human rights groups quickly banded together to oppose the bill, saying it would infringe on the rights of Kenyans by including the possibility of life imprisonment and extradition of suspects without normal legal safeguards. The bill also allows police to detain suspects incommunicado for an unspecified amount of time without trial and to confiscate their assets. Some have suggested that the bill was forced on Kenya by the US, which has endured two terror attacks in Kenya in recent years.
RIGHTS-KENYA: Terror Bill Sparks Controversy (by Joyce Mulama, Inter Press Service)
 
American Reality Shows Stirs Controversy
In 2001, the reality television show Survivor was shot in Kenya and quickly raised controversy among environmental groups who objected to filming in the Shaba Game Reserve, which is home to the Serengeti, along with all kinds of animal and plant life. Though executives paid $250,000 to lease most of the park for four months, environmentalists said it would not pay for the damage done by contestants and crew members. The show came at a time when Kenyan tourism was at an all time low, due mostly to political instability and ethnic fighting.
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Human Rights

According to the Amnesty International 2009 Report, the government failed to put in place a plan to bring to justice those responsible for human rights abuses committed during post-election violence, which subsided early in 2008, or to guarantee reparations for the victims. State security officials continued to torture and kill suspects with impunity. Violence against women and girls remained widespread. The government did not impose a moratorium on forced evictions. Public health facilities were poorly funded, equipped and maintained.

 
Post-Election violence
Following the controversial December 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections, more than 1,000 people were killed in politically motivated ethnic violence and associated police killings. More than 30,000 people have been estimated to be displaced from their homes and about 12,000 crossed into Uganda as refugees. In November, the government announced its support for the implementation of an investigation of facts by the Commission of Inquiry on Post Election Violence (CIPEV).
 
Internally Displaced People and Forced Evictions
The Amnesty International Report from 2009 states that in May 2009 the government launched “Operation Rudi Nyumbani” (Operation go home) in order to assist more than 300,000 people who had been displaced by the post-election violence to return home. Some reports claim that up to 600,000 people have been displaced due to the post-election violence. A research report in late October 2009 from the Kenya Human Rights Commission found that most IDP’s had not returned to their original homes. By the end of the year there was neither a legal framework for the displaced nor a national strategy to deal with the issue of forced displacement in Kenya.
 
The government planned to implement a Task Force on the Mau Forest complex to compensate the thousands of people who had been forcibly evicted from the Mau Forest complex in 2006. However, by the end of 2008 the Task Force had not completed its work and hundreds of families living in informal settlements close to the Nairobi River were living under the threat of forced evictions by the government.
 
Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission
In October 2008, a law establishing a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) was passed by Parliament that would investigate human rights violations committed between December 1963 and February 2008. TJRC would not guarantee a comprehensive protection program for victim and witnesses, and fell short of ensuring a broad range of reparations for victims of human rights violations. By the end of the year TJRC had not been formed.
 
Refugees and Human Rights Violations
In March 2008, the government launched a joint police-military operation called “Operation Okoa Maisha” (“Operation Save Life”) in the Mount Elgon area in western Kenya. This operation was intended to target against the Sabaot Land Defense Forces, an armed militia blamed for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses. There had been reports of unlawful killings by these military personnel and cases of families complaining that their relatives had disappeared. The government denied these reports, but failed to ensure an independent investigation into the allegations.
 
The government failed to investigate allegations of torture and unlawful killings committed by the police in 2007, including the shooting and killing of hundreds of people in the course of security operations against members of the banned Mungiki group.
 
Also from the Amnesty International Report from 2009, refugees and asylum-seekers were fleeing into Kenya due to the escalation of the conflict in Somalia in 2007 and 2008. These refugees faced harassment by Kenyan security personnel at the border; many were arrested, beaten and forced back into Somalia. Some had to pay bribes to security officials (partly as a result of the official decision to maintain the formal closure of the border) in order to gain access into Kenya. As of March 2009, there were still reports on the uncertainty of how to handle Kenya’s Somali refugee crisis.
 
Security concerns, including rape, banditry, and shooting, remained problems at both Dadaab and Kakumarefugee camps. Health and social workers at the camps reported that due to strong rape awareness programs, rape incidents were better reported by victims, resulting in improved access to counseling.
 
Violence against Women and Girls
Amnesty International reports that during the post-election violence and in the conflict in the Mount Elgon area, women and girls were subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence. Alleged perpetrators of gender-based violence, including the police and other law enforcement officials, were hardly ever brought to justice.
 
The law provides equal rights to men and women and specifically prohibits discrimination on grounds of gender. But women experienced a wide range of discriminatory practices in matrimonial rights, property ownership, and inheritance rights. They also face a justice system that often discriminates against women, and customary laws grounded in patriarchal traditions, limiting their political and economic rights and relegating them to second-class citizenship. Child rape and molestation continued to be serious problems.
 
Child prostitution increased in recent years due to both poverty and the increase in the number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Strong growth in the tourism industry led to a large increase in foreign and domestic tourists seeking sex with underage girls and boys.
 
The law does not explicitly prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, although the Sexual Offenses Act and the Children’s Act criminalize trafficking of children and trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Persons were trafficked to, from, and within the country.
 
Prison and Detention Centers
Prison and detention center conditions continued to be harsh and life threatening, although the government attempted to make some improvements. Prisoners generally received three meals per day, but portions were inadequate, and prisoners were sometimes given half rations as punishment. Water shortages continued to be a problem.
 
Prison personnel stated that the rape of male and female inmates, primarily by fellow inmates, continued. Media reports indicated that it was also common for prison officials to rape female inmates. Hundreds of prisoners died annually from infectious diseases spread by overcrowding, unhygienic conditions, and inadequate medical treatment.
 
Police frequentlyarrested and detained citizens arbitrarily. Police, colluding with prosecutors, resorted to illegal confinement, extortion, torture, and fabricated charges as a cover-up for malpractice.
 
Kenya Human Rights (Amnesty International USA)
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Note: Embassy Nairobi was established Dec 12, 1963, with Laurence C. Vass as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.

 
William Attwood
Appointment: Feb 20, 1964
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 2, 1964
Termination of Mission: Reaccredited when Kenya became a republic; presented new credentials Jan 28, 1965; left post, May 1, 1966
 
Glenn W. Ferguson
Appointment: Sep 16, 1966
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 4, 1966
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 7, 1969
 
Robinson McIlvaine
Appointment: Sep 15, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 30, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 4, 1973
 
Anthony D. Marshall
Appointment: Dec 19, 1973
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 22, 1974
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 26, 1977
Note: Also accredited to the Seychelles; resident at Nairobi.
 
Wilbert John LeMelle
Appointment: May 11, 1977
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 10, 1977
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 28, 1980
Note: Also accredited to the Seychelles; resident at Nairobi.
 
William Caldwell Harrop
Appointment: May 23, 1980
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 10, 1980
Termination of Mission: Sep 1, 1983
Note: Also accredited to the Seychelles; resident at Nairobi.
 
Gerald Eustis Thomas
Appointment: Oct 7, 1983
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 9, 1983
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 29, 1989
 
Elinor Greer Constable
Appointment: Oct 16, 1986
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 11, 1986
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 29, 1989
 
Smith Hempstone, Jr.
Appointment: Nov 6, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 7, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 26, 1993
 
Aurelia Erskine Brazeal
Appointment: Aug 9, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 21, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 11, 1996
 
Prudence Bushnell
Appointment: Jun 11, 1996
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 2, 1996
Termination of Mission: Left post May 22, 1999
 
Johnnie Carson
Appointment: Jul 7, 1999
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 23, 1999
Termination of Mission: Jul 6, 2003
 
William M. Bellamy
Appointment: Apr 16, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 9, 2003
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 25, 2006
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Kenya's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Odembo, Elkanah

Elkanah Odembo began serving as Kenya’s Ambassador to the United States in June 2010.

 
Odembo earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Sociology at Bowdoin College in 1980 and was a member of the soccer team. He went on to add a Master’s degree in Public Health (Epidemiology) at the University of Texas.
 
Odembo’s first job was Research Officer for Nairobi’s African Medical Research Foundation in its Community Health Division. He then joined the Ford Foundation as a consultant to its Coordinator of Africa Philanthropy Initiative. He subsequently served as East Africa Representative for World Neighbors.
 
Odembo was then appointed as Chairman of the Kenya Community Development Foundation, and Lead Facilitator for the Kenya Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Consultation Process. He also became a member of the UNDP Africa 2000 Project selection committee.
 
Odembo was a member of the National Committee for Social Dimensions of Development, and the NGO Coordination Board of Kenya. Additionally, he was a founding member of the NGO Coalition for East Africa, a member of the National Advisory Committee for Health Research, Chairperson of the Kenya National Council for Non-Governmental Organizations (1997-1999), and Founding Director of Ufadhili Trust (Centre for Philanthropy and Social Responsibility).
 
In January 2009, Odembo was appointed Kenya’s Ambassador to France.
 
Odembo is a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative, and a Synergos Senior Fellow.
 
He and his wife, Aoko Midiwo-Odembo, have two children. Among the positions Midiwo-Odembo has held are planning officer for the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology, contract manager for the African Medical Research Foundation, and liaison coordinator for The Carter Center in Nairobi. Her brother, Jakoyo Midiwo, is a member of parliament, and her first cousin, Raila Odinga, is the prime minister of Kenya.
 

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Kenya's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Kenya

Godec, Robert
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President Barack Obama has nominated career diplomat Robert F. Godec to be the next ambassador to the East African nation of Kenya. If confirmed, Godec, who has served as chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Nairobi since August 27, would succeed political appointee Scott Gration, who resigned from his position last June over “differences in leadership styles and priorities with Washington.” 

 

Born circa 1957 to Robert F. Godec and Nancy (Dietrich) Godec, Godec graduated from W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia, in 1975. He went on to earn a B.A. in Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia, where he was associate news editor on the student newspaper The Daily Cavalier, and an M.A. in International Relations at Yale University.

 

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, Godec joined the State Department in 1985. Now focused on Africa and the Middle East, earlier in his career Godec worked on relations with Southeast Asia, serving as director for Southeast Asian Affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative from 1992 to 1994, and as assistant office director for Thailand and Burma in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1994 to 1996.

 

Godec has served in Kenya once before, as economic counselor at the embassy in Nairobi from 1996 to 1999, followed by additional African experience as minister counselor for Economic Affairs at the embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, from 1999 to 2002, concurrently filling the post of acting deputy chief of mission in 2002. In Washington, Godec served as deputy coordinator for the Transition in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, and as deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from 2005 to 2006.

 

From 2006 to 2009, Godec was the U.S. ambassador to Tunisia, his first ambassadorship. According to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, Godec was quite critical of the regime of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, describing his “sclerotic regime,” as a “police state” mired in corruption, an evaluation that was much-appreciated by pro-democracy forces in Tunisia when it was made public. Back in Washington, Godec served as principal deputy coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department from 2009 to 2012.

 

Godec speaks French and German, although neither of these will be especially helpful in Kenya, a former British colony. He has been married to Lori G. Magnusson since May 1986.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Democratic Movements (by Steve Coll, New Yorker)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Kenya

Ranneberger, Michael
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Michael E. Ranneberger was sworn in as the new United States Ambassador to Kenya on July 31, 2006. Ranneberger obtained a BA from Towson State University in Baltimore and an MA in history from the University of Virginia.

 
He was Angola Desk Officer during 1981-1984, where he worked as a member of Assistant Secretary Crocker’s team. After working as a special assistant to Under Secretary Armacost from 1984 to 1985, he was awarded an International Affairs Fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations.
 
His service as Deputy Chief of Mission in Maputo from 1986 to 1989 included eight months as charge during the civil war, at a time when the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) emergency assistance program in Mozambique was one of the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. From 1989-1992, Ranneberger served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Asuncion, and while Deputy Director for Central American Affairs during 1992-1994, he helped oversee implementation of the peace accords in El Salvador and efforts to end the internal conflict in Guatemala.
 
In August 1994, he became Deputy Chief of Mission in Mogadishu. Ranneberger spent six months in Haiti setting up and running an inter-agency Task Force on Justice and Security-Related Issues before becoming Coordinator for Cuban Affairs from July 1995 to July 1999.
 
From 1999 to 2002, he was ambassador to the Republic of Mali. He served as special advisor on Sudan from 2002 to 2004 and was the Africa Bureau’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary from 2004 to 2005.
 
In 2006, he became the senior representative on Sudan in the Bureau of African Affairs.
 
In May 2009, some Kenyan leaders expressed slight displeasure with Ranneberger Nicholas Gumbo, a Member of Parliament from the Rarieda party, was quoted saying “Ranneberger is behaving like a governor. He has no respect for elected leaders”. Additional members of Parliament have expressed disappointment at the way Ranneberger has handled the reform agenda.
 
On September 24, 2009, Ranneberger reported that the US was sending warning letters to 15 prominent Kenyans who are currently supposed obstacles to reform in Kenya. The warning stated that in order for Washington to continue providing future aid deals that benefit Kenyans, the leaders of Kenya need to implement long-delayed reforms that will stamp out corruption and rights abuses.
 

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