Busted: Debunking Common Myths About Kenya

Busted: Debunking Common Myths About Kenya
African elephant in The Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya , Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Do lions really roam the streets in Kenya?

Roshni Subramanian
September 20 , 2019
05 Min Read

A barren land, clutched in poverty with malnourished children and crime rate hitting an all time high. This is pretty much the only picture that has been painted of Africa by popular culture. Shouldn’t we be giving the world’s second largest continent a little more credit. Well, the real Africa is far more complex. And no! Complexity doesn’t translate into violent tribal wars or folks dying of Ebola, AIDS and other god forsaken diseases. 

The number of misconceptions that people have about Africa is appalling. From assuming that Africa is a country to thinking that ‘African’ is a language, the stereotypes are endless. These tags and prejudices have raised umpteen number of questions in the minds of tourists. With a rich diversity in terms of wildlife, culture, languages and ethnicity, it doesn’t take much for one to realise that Africa is not at all what it’s made to look like. 

One of the most fascinating destinations in Africa is Kenya. Again, all due credit to media and pop culture a negative and misconstrued image of Kenya is doing the rounds. The Kenyan culture, hospitality and warmth, often leave foreigners awestruck. We present 6 ridiculous misconceptions that first time travellers have about Kenya.

Herd of zebras at sunset, Kenya

Wild Animals Roam The Streets

It is true that Kenya is home to a wide array of species, but to claim that wild animals roam the streets is a bit too much. The wildlife in Kenya is pretty much confined to the national parks and reserves. While these wild animals may be a common sighting in Malawi or say Namibia, in Kenya these animals stick to their own patch and do not encroach upon human settlements. You might spot a baboon or an ostrich once in a while in southern Africa, but you cannot find them lurking around in cities or towns.

Diani beach, Kenya

It’s always hot in Kenya

There couldn’t have been a more generalized statement. Just like any other country, Kenya also experiences a varied mix of climates. From hot to humid to cold. While the coast has a tropical climate, the lowlands are generally hot. But due to the monsoon winds, the hot months are a lot more bearable. A trip to Kenya can be quite a rewarding experience provided that you land there at the right time. While it’s warm during the day, nights are generally chilly. So, the notion that Kenya only has a harsh and dry climate is completely false. What many might find hard to believe is that African countries like South Africa and Morocco even experience snowfall during the winters.

Nairobi city centre

Kenya is in dire need of help

Let’s be honest. Poverty is a universal problem. Kenya is not only the target. The common perception is that there are no growing industries or opportunities in Kenya. What one needs to understand is that not all African countries are poor. Kenyans are not only resourceful and entrepreneurial but extremely hospitable. So the best way you can ‘help’ Kenya is go down there and explore the country and get to know the local folks on a personal level.

iHub, Nairobi

Kenya is technologically backward

From the latest Iphone to private jets and even the latest luxury cars. One can find everything and anything in Kenya. In fact, Kenya leads Africa in new technology and its rapid adoption of mobile technology is commendable. With 30 million mobile subscribers, Kenya is on the verge of becoming a global technology hub. Telecom service providers like Safaricom, Airtel and Orange have boosters all over the place. Though one might complain about the faulty network, but that can happen anywhere. Even Kenyan banks have a mobile friendly transaction system. 

Nairobi cityscape

Kenyans live in mud huts

It seems misrepresentation of the Kenyan way of life has no end. Among the millions of African stereotypes is the misconception that Kenyans live in mud huts. Well, to be honest, this is partially true. Rural parts of the country still have  mud huts and there is even a major tourist attraction called Bomas of Kenya that has indigenouous huts for tourists to experience the ‘true culture’. But at the same time one can find state of the art architecture, gigantic skyscrapers and luxury villas.

Traditional Kenyan platter

Kenyans survive on wild roots and herbs

Don’t even get us started on the Kenyan cuisine. With a plethora of curries, gravies and rice dishes, the statement that Kenyans eat wild roots couldn’t be further from the truth. Apart from the wildlife safari and rich diversity, if there’s one thing that calls for a holiday in Kenya is the delectable cuisine. From local street food to classic recipes, if you’re a foodie, you just cannot resist the unique taste of Kenyan food. With their own variation of the classic pilaf which is usually eaten with a meat stew, the local delicacies are sure worth a try. With each tribe having its own signature dish, a food trail around Kenya is an adventure of a lifetime.


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