12 hours in Nairobi

I love Nairobi. Not until recently when I started exploring it did I realize its beauty. I know there is traffic, which sucks most of the time, but you can’t compare it with the beauty that this city has to offer.

I embarked on a one-day tour around the city and I got to visit 4 places despite the fact that it was on a Friday. City dwellers know how Friday’s can be. I had a good experience and I would like to share it with you.

Here is a simple one-day tour guide within Nairobi:

If you leave the house at around 8.30 am you can get to Museum Hill road at around 9.00am- 9.30 am and make your way to The Nairobi National Museum.

You’ll be required to pay 200/- (Adults) while the children fees are 150/-  (citizen).

The National Museum houses a lot of our (Kenyan) history. Starting from how barter trade took place in Kenya, to some of the tools that were being used to fight during Pre-independence period.

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Tickets go for 150/-

You can also visit the snake park and learn about the different species of snakes. Your tour should take approximately 1 hour.

This will give you time to make your way to David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which is located along Magadi Rd. If you are lucky you will get to the place 10/20 minutes before its opened to the public. As a Kenyan, this will be a moment that will leave you in awe as you watch tens of foreigners who eagerly wait for the gates to be opened so that they can see the elephants. I know right? why should anyone be excited to see elephants? I get it, we live in Africa where you have all the time in the world to see wildlife. To me, that was an actual challenge. Seeing people eager to see elephants just made me realize I take the little things I have for granted.

img_5487 The orphanage is open to the public from 11 am to 12 pm (every day), during which people get to see the baby elephants feed and also interact with them. This is because the elephants are sensitive animals and like a peaceful environment to exist in. The public is, therefore “Privileged” to interact with them for just 1 hr (I know it’s not enough time coz they are adorable beings). There are 24 baby elephants at the orphanage, who have been rescued from different parts of the country. you can adopt the baby elephants by visiting their website where you get to choose the elephant you want to adopt. This will give one the opportunity to interact with the baby elephant in the evening for one hour.

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Play time

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They showed up excited to see us

After leaving the orphanage, you can take a 30 minutes ride to Karen Blixen Museum which is on Karen Rd.

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Few things you should know about the museum.

  1. It was handed over to the government of Kenya in 1963 (Independence year)
  2. The movie “Out of Africa” was shot here (It was an account of Karen’s life)
  3. It was named after Karen Blixen, a Danish Author.
  4. Karen Blixen bought the Land to practice coffee farming which apparently became unsuccessful after a few years.
  5. There is a similar museum in Denmark built in honor of Karen Blixen

What caught my attention the most is the fact that Karen was among the few whites who came to Kenya during the times of colonialism and decided to be part of the community. She built houses for her workers at the plantation. She also opened a Nutrition school to teach women about Health & Nutrition. The institution is currently called Kenya Medical Training College (Karen Branch). She was also a painter. You will find some of her artistic works in the museum. She basically understood the importance of sustainability within a community which I applaud her for. She died aged 74 of Syphilis in her home in Denmark. The obvious reason was her partner loved many women (That’s what we were told during the tour).

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She loved books
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George Finch Hatton (her lover) was a hunter

By the time you are leaving the museum it will be a few minutes past 1 pm. You can stop at Tamambo Karen Blixen Coffee Garden which is located in a beautiful peaceful setting on Karen Road. They really have good food. You can take a quick rest as you enjoy your lunch as you prepare to head for Giraffe Centre.

At around 2.30pm, you can start your journey to Giraffe center which is about 30 minutes from Karen Blixen Museum. At Giraffe Centre, you will get a chance to feed the giraffe. It’s a fun experience. You get to have a “smooching moments” with the giraffe. It’s a good one right??

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That’s how you feed her

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Giraffe Centre also has a curio shop that sells artworks made by a women’s group in Kibera among other groups who live in the slums. Make sure to make a stop at the shop and #SupportLocal.

After leaving the center, you can leave for home or pass by a good joint and have some “Nyama Choma” to start off the weekend in a good mood.

Enjoy!!!!

A trip to Karunguru Farm

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A week ago, I was given a heads up by my boss of an upcoming trip to a coffee farm. I remember my friend laughing at me when I told him I’m going to miss my Saturday class in the name of visiting a coffee farm. For the first time in many months, I felt like someone dragged me to do the wrong assignment. I wanted to protest and scream my lungs out.

Anyway, I passed by the office to pick the camera and got into a cab. According to google map, the coffee farm was 59 minutes from Upperhill. We agreed with the cab driver to follow the directions as per the map. Unfortunately, one hour later we found ourselves headed for a place called Banana. We had to call the cab’s head office to get directions. We struggled for about another hour before we got to Thika road. We arrived at Karunguru Farm at around 12 pm after a long struggle trying to get our way there Map to the farm.

I was surprised to see that a couple of people showed up for the familiarization trip. We were taken through a 30-minute talk on the history of the Farm.

How it started

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Karunguru Coffee Estate was established on a 300-acre farm in 1928 by the Glassford family. It was later on purchased by Geoffrey Karekia Kariithi who named it Karunguru Farm after his father.

I will spare you the science involved in terms of the types of coffee they plant. You can check it here.

Back to the Familiarization trip. We set out to tour the coffee farm at 1 pm. Our first stop was at the nursery.

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The Nursery

We walked for a few minutes before we got to the actual farm where the coffee is grown.

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Unfortunately, it was not one of those busy days where a lot of (picking) was taking place on the farm.

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Coffee Berry
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A walk in the coffee farm

During the picking season, the coffee is processed at their own factory (Karunguru farm factory), where it is taken through parchment processing to sort out the coffee to ensure and control and monitor the standard of coffee produced on the farm.

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One of the machines at Karunguru Coffee Farm

 

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Finally, the coffee is dried under the tropical sun to retain its natural taste, aroma, and uniqueness.

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After finishing the tour we went back to the house where we were treated to a nice brunch. We couldn’t leave without sipping some good coffee. I am a coffee lover and I can tell you this for free, what we purchase from the shops and supermarket are “just coffee”. The coffee I had at the farm was on another level. From the aroma to the taste it left on my tongue. It is an experience I want to have if I get a second chance.

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The coffee is available in a 500-gram packet.

One more thing, If you have a family and you don’t have a plan for the weekend, why not go for a Farm tour at Karunguru Farm You will get to enjoy a swim and an evening gym session as well. I assure you, that you are well sorted at Karunguru Farm😊.

Disclaimer: This is not an endorsed post

ENJOY!!!!

Wildlife codes to respect while on a game drive

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I went for an evening game drive some time back at Ruma National Park in Mbita. During our drive, we were so eager to get shots of the Roan which the park is famously known for. Unfortunately, we left the park an angry lot having seen only a few zebras and birds. During the one-hour game drive, the driver kept telling us to keep our voices down to avoid scaring the wild animals away. Instead, we kept screaming “Look over there” every time we saw a creature.

Now that I know, here is some wildlife code you should keep while on a game drive according to Kenya Wildlife Service:

  1. Respect the privacy of the wildlife, because this is their habitat
  2. Beware of the animals, they are wild and can be unpredictable
  3. Don’t crowd the animals, or make sudden noises or movements.
  4. Don’t feed the animals, it upsets their diet and leads to human dependence
  5. Keep quiet, noise disturb  the wildlife and may antagonize your fellow visitors
  6. Stay in your vehicles at all times, except at designated picnic or walking areas
  7. Keep below the maximum speed limit (40 kph/ 25 mph)
  8. Never drive off-road, this severely damages the habitat
  9. when viewing wildlife keep to a minimum distance of 20 meters and pull to the side of the road so as to allow others to pass.
  10. Leave no litter and never leave fires unattended or discard  burning objects.
  11. Respect the cultural heritage of Kenya. Never take pictures of the local people or their habitat without asking their permission, respect the cultural traditions of Kenya and always dress with decorum.
  12. Stay over or leave before dusk, visitors must vacate the park between 7.00pm – 6.00am unless they are camping overnight. Night game driving is not allowed.

Next time you go for a game drive, make sure you have a screenshot of this blog post to help you not get in trouble with nature😉.

Below are some photos I took at Ruma National park.

Through my lens: Rusinga Island in pictures #RusingaFest2016

As I watch the waves move in great force, my heart calls out “devour me”. Nature called out to me like never before. I will be honest here, I have seen Lake Turkana before. It does have a large mass of water but, It didn’t excite me at all. It was quite and calm. It was so inaudible, I couldn’t stand it. I am loud in nature. I like it when things get all strange, bubbly and fun. That’s how my life functions.

I remember getting all excited when I saw Lake Victoria. It was around 6.45 pm in the evening. I was in the land cruiser trying to pick a conversation with the guy sat next to me, when he told me “Hey, check out the lake”. I still regret my reaction when I saw the strong waves hitting the shores of the lake. I looked like a kid who had just been given a ticket to Disney World. Everyone in the cruiser gave me a side eye that insinuated “Kid better sit your a** down. Anyway, I don’t care what they thought about me (actually, deep down I do). Moving on. I have a lot to say about my trip to Rusinga Island…but I tell better stories through the lens, so I’ll let you “Kula na Macho” as some crook mafisi’s say.

Enjoy!!!

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Takawiri Island, A white sandy beach. A 45 minute boat ride from Rusinga Island

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Suba bus. It ferries people from one side of the Island to the other.

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Lake Victoria

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Towards sunset.
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Sunset
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Abasuba Dancers
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Boat race competition during Rusinga Festival 2016

Check out my trip to Rusinga Island on You Tube:

Little did I know (Rusinga Tales: 1)

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Sunset in Rusinga Island

I had a good day, except for the bad cold I’m struggling with. Thanks for not asking. Anyway. I am currently at Rusinga Island, at a hotel called Blue ridge .

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BlueRidge Hotel

This is my first visit to this land. Yesterday as I was packing , I had a feeling I needed to carry a heavy warm sweater or probably a jacket. I assumed Rusinga Island is a chilly and cold area. Little did I know…..the place is so hot and humid. I won’t tell you the garb I’m in right now as I write this article (Gosh!!). This place is no different from Lamu.

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I’m suffering from a very bad cold and my body is producing tremendous amount of heat that is killing my vibe for this trip. I don’t know how many times you’ve been to Rusinga Island and its environs, or maybe you’ll one day be a first time traveller to this place like me: Take my word seriously, make sure you carry light attire like vests and shorts for men and for the ladies whatever is appropriate but light.

Just to let you know, I’m in Rusinga Island for the Rusinga Festival that is taking place on 22nd and 23rd of this month. This happens to be the third edition of this festival. I am glad and excited for what awaits me. I’m also looking forward to telling you my experience.

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Somewhere in Homabay

Enjoy!!!!

My world

I love art. I fell in love with it when I was in my mother’s womb (I guess so). All I know is what makes the world go round is art, not love because love is just but a piece of art.

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I declined to go to Med school to pursue Communication when I finished high school. As far as I’m concerned I made the right decision. Don’t get me wrong, medicine is an art (I was born in a hospital). Doctors get to see first hand how a child comes out from their mother’s womb and blah!blah!blah!. I just did not want to be part of that bunch of artists.

I love photography. I was first exposed to it in a photography unit I undertook last year at my campus. The lecturer would remind us all at the begin of each class session, “Don’t compare your work to that of the artist sat next to you”. Every one of you has a story. Every picture you present is your story. That’s when I fell in love (with photography of course). I can’t start pointing out whose work I love the most. I wish I could meet the photographer behind every picture that leaves me in awe.

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Some of the few photographers I have met don’t term themselves as photographers because they say “I have never been to a photography class like you”. Spare me a frown, my friend!! the only reason why I am not going to raise my hand to you is because I already did that in my mind. Just because a lecturer did not take you through “The Exposure Triangle” doesn’t mean you don’t qualify to be one. Now you know (I hope you get to read this).

It just amazes me how each photographer chooses to tell a story. Despite the type of photos they decide to take, they tell their story. Look at the best photographers in the world. They may have or not have the best camera to take photos, but at the end of the day, they express themselves.

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The photography class I took changed my perception. I studied works of best photojournalists (as part of my class project) like Steve McCurry and fashion photographer Mario Testino among others. Not to forget I have also studied local photographers’ work. The likes of Boniface Mwangi (Who ventured into photography at a very tender age) and Mutua Matheka who do some amazing work.

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I want to make a decent living out of photography one day (I decided to venture into photography by the way). I want to spend the rest of my life with this artist called a photographer. I can imagine a house patched with works of photographers. I want to document our life together (future partner). I can’t get enough of what photos do to my imagination. A mix of different feelings and desires.

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Dear photography, thank you for helping me find my path. Each day I strive to express myself through the photos I take. I hope to one day publish a photo book full of stories. My story of course: but most importantly stories of humanity filled with emotions of all kinds. I guess I have traveled long and hard to find you. Once again, thank you for being part of the large family of art.

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ENJOY!!!

PEACE OUT!!!!

My Travel Chronicles ( Week 2)

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Some of the entrance Tickets I bought

Just like every new week holds a mystery, every new place you visit also holds the same adventure of mystery. We expect to do things differently, more like less mistakes and keeping to thy self at the start of every week.

Well, unlike last week I had high expectations for this week. I had planned to visit 5 places within Nairobi’s CBD area. Last week I managed to visit 3 places. This week on the other hand I managed to visit 3 places only. No progress made right? Actually, I think I have made some progress just by the fact that I made effort to go this places (phewks!!sounds comforting).

The Bomb Blast memorial park stood out for me in particular. Despite the fact that the place flooded my mind with grief, it has stored memories, though sad ones. They still remain to be memories. I got to watch a 50 minute movie: Seconds to Tragedy which was inspired by the events of that black Friday.

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Monument containing the names of all those who died in the Bomb blast attack

I also got to visit Nairobi Gallery (Along GPO). I was amused when I got to the gate of the Gallery. I have passed the gallery back and forth all my campus life and it just caught my attention Hallo!! I exist kind of moment when I stepped in. That’s a Nairobian for you, they care only when they need it most (At least, I know from experience).

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An art collection at a section of the Nairobi Gallery

The last place I have visited this week was Ngong Hills. It has been the furthest place I have visited so far. Despite the strong winds that made me fear for my small body that could be blown away, I enjoyed going for a nature walk. Other activities that you can engage in while at Ngong Hills include  hiking and team building activities.

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Ngong Hills

Nonetheless, I have had a lot of fun and good memories to keep with me for the rest of my life. The most important lesson I have learnt this week is that there is a risk anytime we venture into the unknown,trust your gut and do what you feel is best for you, either way what matters most is the lessons you learn not the mistakes you make.

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The most important thing in life is the lessons you learn not the mistakes you make.

Have a good week ahead.

Cheers!!!

Lest we forget!!

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We pass through the busy crowded city of Nairobi everyday going to school, work and some of us to the Cinema because apparently it’s holiday season. I’m serious, my neighbor wakes up very early to go to IMAX to watch a movie coz its cheaper during morning hours. Thank me later.

Anyway, I decided to pay a visit to the Bomb blast Memorial park on Monday. Its located near the busy railway station stage. Let me remind you in case you forgot about the dreading moments of 7th August 1998. Its been solid 18  years. Some of the survivors of that particular Friday still leave with the scars. Not just physical ones but emotional ones too.

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Walking into the reception, you could smell tensed air in the room that was filled with glass cased memories. Images of the horrendous happenings patched on every corner. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take photos. So, I decided to walk around and write some notes. Before I forget, I saw a photo of Hillary Clinton (The only female presidential candidate whom we all hoped will lead the Free world) posing with Mr. Moses Wetangula a politician alongside a woman dressed in a full kitenge attire. President Barrack Obama happened to have visited the memorial park twice. On 25th August 2006 and also on 25th July 2015. President Obama also laid a wreath in commeration of all those who lost their lives on 7/8/98. I must say that the memorial park has had dignitaries from around the world visit it. There is even a quote by Nelson Mandela written somewhere “I will not forget, but I will forgive”.

The only thing I took a photo of was a drawing of my fingers I had done at a corner familiar to many children who have sat on some small stool placed there to allow them to write messages of peace. I was filled with mixed emotion. Pain. Grief. Anger. Bitterness. Helplessness.

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My little message of Peace

I can imagine how it felt on that Dark Friday. I could see a couple of glass cased with a big smoky title ‘Dark Friday’. One of them had this writings:

“A 1 tonne TNT bomb with high explosive had been detonated by suicide bombers at the rear entrance of the American Embassy. The ensuing shattering of glass and flying projectile objects damaged about 40 building within a radius of 150 metres. True to the Kenyan culture of let’s follow the noise and see what within minutes of the blast, thousands of onlookers and rescuers converged at the bomb site; many climbed over the rubble to enter the embassy. Kenyans rallied on all fronts, carting victims to hospitals, queimg up to blood, donate food and blankets to hospitals”. ©Beyondscars.

Glass cases filled with wrapped flags of both Kenya and the United States of America were laid in every corner. Each flag representing the lives lost.

I’m still amazed at how one of the guards survived the tragedy and lived to tell his side of the story. Miracles are real. Not the ones sold on Nairobi’s street preachers. The one God performs only. I’m just keeping the air clear. Hallo!!(On a light note).

After my rounds at the gallery, I was directed to a corner that had a silver like metal piece grilled with the words ‘Audio visual room’. It looked more like a dark room. Photography students must be familiar with this term. Gone are the days when films had to be washed to make photos. The small room that has a capacity of 30 at max was neatly arranged. The TV hanged from a wall waiting for that one individual who will visit to watch the short documentary of about 50 minutes dubbed “Seconds from disaster”. The short documentary courtesy of National Geographic Channel explains in depth the accounts of that day.

I still believe there is a reason why the memorial park was built even with this whole issue of there being no enough land in the filled up city. To be reminded that life is short. To be united as a country. To live by the spirit of Peace, Love and Unity as said by our founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

Aluta Continua!!!

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MY TRAVEL CHRONICLES (Week 1)

Last week was amazing. I got the opportunity to visit three sites in Nairobi (Railway Museums Of Kenya, Mamba Village and Paradise Lost). Fun as it sounds I traveled all alone.Why, while you got a clique of friends? Because I did not want distractions I told myself. I had a story trail in my head. I wanted to get my camera shots, have a munch of few snacks at some bench and then leave for school to edit the videos. It was a long satisfying week, full of activities. I discovered I have a phobia for heights and dark places.

What comes to mind is; Are there hurdles you face while travelling to this different destinations? Yes. It takes a lot of effort to tell a story. We take it for granted that you need to tell a good story in the most authentic and attention capturing way to keep your audience glued. It took me long nights of research to know about the places I went to; especially because there was no enough information about this places on the internet. For instance, my trip to Mamba village was full of uncertainty. I went around at each stage asking for directions from the motorbike guys on the roadside.

I also had to fund myself to go to the different places I visited. Entrance to this sites were not as expensive as one might think. The most expensive place I visited last week was Paradise Lost where I got to pay 300 shillings entrance fee. It’s not expensive right?. Transport was the most expensive though. I had to take two to three matatus; then I also had to board a motorbike to get to my destination.

Aside from that, the most interesting fact about travelling I have learnt is; you get to learn about your strengths and weaknesses. Traits like resilience, patience and trusting my guts came out well for me last week. I enjoyed myself despite the few hurdles I faced in the process. I’m looking forward to the places I am going to visit this coming week.

Note

I will keep you updated every weekend on my travel tales of the week. So look forward to more of my travel tales experience as I #TembeaKenya.

 

 

8 Facts about Kenya you should know. (Part 1)

Planning to visit Kenya? Here are some facts to know about this beautiful country.

1. Nairobi is the only city in the world to boast a 12,000- hectare park (Nairobi National Park) with a variety of animals and birds close to a capital city. The park is located 10 km from Nairobi city centre.

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Photo: http://www.magicalkenya.com

2.  Kenya holds world record for paragliding.

Paragliding is a sport resembling hang gliding, in which person jumps from an aircraft or high placewearing a wide, rectangular, steerableparachute.

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Photo: snowkingmountain.com

3. Kenya has the highest concentration of Olympic gold medal winners in the marathon events.

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Photo: Mike Segar

4. The Kenyan first lady Margaret Kenyatta is the first African first lady to compete in and finish the 42 km London Marathon.

5. 11% of the world’s birds population is in Kenya.

6. 80% of cut rose flowers in Europe are from Kenya.

7. This might sound obvious but I must say, Mpesa was invented in Kenya.

8. Kenyan has hosted world class summits like the UNCTAD, TICAD and GES which brought together leaders around the globe in one meeting.

This is all for Part 1 on some facts you should know about Kenya.

Got some references from: http://www.magicalkenya.com

Enjoy!!!!