From the iconic reputation of its independence leaders, Jomo Kenyatta (scholar, president) and Dedan Kimathi (Mau Mau general) to its history as a ‘white settler’ colony and later popular wildlife destination, Kenya has long held a place in global imagination as one of the most iconic of African states. This was, latterly, further burnished by its familial association with US President Barack Obama. It is also the largest economy in East Africa, and at the forefront of Africa’s digital and communications revolution. Its capital, Nairobi is home to a growing number of home grown and international technology companies, including the M-Pesa, a joint venture between Vodafone and Kenya’s Safaricom, a mobile money transfer service, and Ushahidi, a crowdsourcing technology platform established in the wake of electoral violence in 2007.
To the surprise of many internationally– but not those in the know – Kenya exploded into violence following its general election in 2007. Kofi Annan brokered a coalition government in early 2008, of which Mwai Kibaki remains President until teh end of his 2nd term in March 2013. Following an investigation by the International Criminal Court into the post-election violence, former Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former Minister William Ruto will be tried for Crimes Against Humanity in April 2013. However, if Uhuru Kenyatta is elected President in the 2013 he cannot be prosecuted by the ICC, according to the Constitution.
Since the early 20th century, Kenya’s importance as one of the earliest places of human habitation has been widely documented, an association symbolised by its connection to the Leakeys, a dynasty of archaelogists who played a crucial role in documenting humanity’s origins on the African continent. The region’s pre-colonial history was shaped by the various ethnic groups that now make-up Kenya including the Kikuyu, the Maasai, Luo, and others. The country’s official language, Swahili, developed as a lingua franca spoken by various peoples and communities trading on the region’s coast. Since its often bloody struggle for independence, the country has had a reputation as one of Africa’s more stable states. It retains a significant position in Britain's Africa policies.
Despite its growing international stature, Kenya’s government has not made great headway in tackling corruption, though this has not, so far greatly affected the country’s prospects as an attractive destination for foreign investors and a gateway to the wider East African economy. Militarily Kenya hasstarted to flex its muscles in rebuffing attacks by the Somali islamist group, Al-shabaab. Its troops recently entered Southern Somalia and are integrated into the African Union’s peacekeeping mission there.