Kenya is renowned for its safaris, the recreational tracking of lions and herds of elephants and giraffes, during which tourists strain to see all they can through binoculars propped atop a roving vehicle dodging thorned umbrella trees. Many foreigners have also discovered, mostly in the pages of magazines and in documentary films, the Maasai of southern Kenya in their beads, colorfully patterned clothes, and pierced earlobes as they guide cattle from one arid hillside to the next. Yet others know Kenya as a major producer and consumer of tea, a legacy of British colonialism.
These days, Kenya makes the news when bad things happen. Ethnic tribes clash. Violence erupts after national elections. Drought and famine strike at the heart of agriculture and commerce, leaving villagers and urbanites alike to wonder what struggles might lay ahead. [read more …]