When someone mentions Kenya, one’s imagination instinctively recalls tourist brochures illustrating the boundless and evocative savannahs, traversed by endless herds of large wild mammals and the legendary people of ancient Maasai warriors. One thinks of the exotic tents and jeeps equipped for adventurous safaris in search of the “Big Five”, or the glossy postcards of paradisiacal beaches fringed with palm trees, dotted with luxurious resorts, overlooking the thousands of turquoise shades of the Indian Ocean and the coral reef. Kenya is all this, and much, much more.
If there is one country that can sum up the thousand facets of the whole of Africa, it is Kenya. A country of traditions and contradictions, where modernity and the progress of metropolises and glittering accommodation facilities coexist, and often clash, with the customs and traditions of a mosaic of peoples who still have a strong identity. The country where international tourism was born and developed, centred on safaris and seaside holidays on one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, but also a land of a thousand landscapes, inhabited by nomadic shepherds and ancient tribal clans, the true custodians of the secrets of an uncontaminated nature. The country described by Karen Blixen, of immense farms, plantations and nature reserves, but also of tropical forests and jungles. It is a magical land of Africa’s highest peaks or mysterious geysers, of alkaline lakes set like small precious stones in silent calderas, of valleys and snow-capped peaks, sloping down to barren steppes or green prairies, the habitat of some of the world’s richest wildlife. But also a nature that thins out into salt deserts and desolate volcanic depressions, peeping out along the Rift Valley and Lake Turkana.
The country of Animism, Christianity, Islam. The homeland of pastoral and agricultural cultures that survive in some forty different origins, where the terms “camitic”, “nilotic”, “cuscitic”, “swahili”, “bantu”, “masai”, “samburu”, “turkana” and many others, merge, mingle and intertwine in a kaleidoscope of peoples, each with its own identity, history and traditions, still alive.
A morphological, environmental, landscape, faunal, cultural, anthropological and ethnographic variety, perhaps the richest on the entire African continent.
Kenya is the synthesis of Africa, in all its essence.