Social Issues Facing Kenya

Social Issues Facing Kenya | Social Problems Facing Kenya

Social Issues Facing Kenya | Social Problems Facing KenyaIntroduction Social Issues Facing Kenya

Social Issues Facing Kenya is a land endowed with many advantages and opportunities. Now, it is common for the international media to depict third world countries particularly in Africa as poverty laden. It is not a surprise that when most people hear of the nation of Kenya, the first idea that springs to their mind are slums and if not the wildlife and tourist safaris. True, Kenya, like any other nation in the world, does face its proportional share of economic, social and political strife. What is surprising however is that Kenya has the hallmarks of a nation that is on the verge of take-off to being an economic powerhouse; It has a tech-savvy population that is mostly literate, the politics are stable and its geographical location is such that it is the gateway to East and Central Africa. This therefore begs the question; why is Kenya a peripheral nation?

Reasons as to why Kenya is a Peripheral Nation and Probable Solutions

Prior to going to the reasons it is important to note that Kenya is a multi-lingual and multi-cultural nation. These tribes that are within the geographical borders of Kenya have little if any commonality with each other. Simply put, the borders created by colonialists ended up dividing some communities while grouping others into a new identity of Kenyan. As such, some issues from the past still stubbornly face the nation to this day.

Corruption and Tribalism

In Kenya corruption is in such levels that it has become somewhat an accepted norm. Offering and receiving bribes may be illegal but that has not stopped it from carrying on. What is even more worrying is that corruption, tribalism and politics mesh to form a trivalent. This happens when tribal leaders, who mostly happen to be the politicians of the day, use their tribes as shields of defense in order to hide from answering corruption charges. It is not a surprise that while the country has a harsh criminal justice system, there is yet to be any person who has been charged and imprisoned for the mega corruption charges that have regularly been cited in the nation. The high corruption environment has meant that the public has continuously lost money to corrupt individuals seriously slowing down any economic and social reforms that the country is ripe for. To address this, the country does indeed have an ethics and anti-corruption commission, however, it lacks the powers to arrest or conduct trials making it rather a toothless tiger. It does not help that individuals involved in mega corruption usually enjoy some form of political protection(“Contemporary Semiperipheral Development: the regimes and the movements”, 2017).

Social Issues Facing Kenya | Social Problems Facing Kenya

If the problem of corruption is to be dealt with once and for all, the nation should see some of those behind mega corruption charged and dealt according to the full extent of the law. This will serve as a hindrance to others of like mind and do away with the notion of some being above the law leading to impunity. It is further important to note that the nation has done little to offer its citizens a new identity. Most of Kenyan citizens still view themselves through their tribal identities. It is therefore not much of a surprise that those in the political class take advantage of this. This came about from the colonial ‘divide and conquer’ days when the British caused friction between the native communities in order to ensure they did not put up a unified front against them. Naturally, the young nation was quick to absorb this into their politics and the domino effects of it are still felt to this day. To address the issue of tribalism, Kenyans themselves should learn to see beyond their tribal affiliations. Afterall, except for those in the political and elite class, the rest face similar challenges irrespective of tribe(Murori, 2017).

Terrorism and Warring Neighbors

Kenya has regularly been mentioned as a nation of stability bordered by nations with strife. If one was to look at the nations surrounding Kenya, they either have a war going on such as Uganda, Southern Sudan and Somalia, or have a poor human rights record such as Ethiopia. The effects of this has meant that despite being resource rich and having the potential for great trade and economic prosperity, little trade goes on between these nations(“Contemporary Semiperipheral Development: the regimes and the movements”, 2017). This is further complicated by the terror activities that have rocked the nation. From the Westgate Mall attack in 2013 which saw over 70 people killed and an attack on Garissa University that resulted in the deaths of close to 300 students. The Al-Shabaab Islamist terror group was cited responsible for the attacks and it is not a surprise that the Kenyan military is at war in Somalia against the terror group. The effect of this has been loss of investor confidence in the nation due to security concerns. To add salt to injury, Kenya being a multicultural nation has its fair share of Cushitic people who mostly practice Islam. This has led to the heightening of the already high tribal tensions towards the Cushitic communities. It is not a surprise that they have regularly held demonstrations citing being ethnically profiled by the police and members of the public as terror suspects(Murori, 2017).

The issue of terrorism is a global issue and the Kenyan military has indeed received aid from AMISOM forces in order to fight the vice. It is important to put in mind that Kenya does use its influence in the region to try and negotiate peace in those countries that are at war. A prime example of this would be the recent ceasefire agreements negotiated between South Sudan President Silva Kiir and Reik Machar in which Kenya was very instrumental.

Politics and Post-Election Violence

The political narrative in Kenya is that it is relatively stable; however, the politics are heavily tribal influenced. In the year 2007, a disputed election resulted in violence that almost sent the nation into a civil war. While peace was restored, the nation had experienced substantial loss economically and had further divided the nation further. While the nation now has a new constitution and independent institutions involved in overseeing elections and electoral disputes, socially the nation is very much divided along tribal lines. This can only be solved when Kenyans stop allowing the political class to use violence or instigate it as a means to getting their political demands met(“Poverty in Kenya: 10 Lesser Known Facts About It”, 2017).


Kenya is ripe for economic take off however the nation still has fundamental issues to deal with if this is to be achieved. With the resources that it has been endowed with and its able human resource, Kenya can become a beacon of economic prosperity in Africa. However, much as has been the narration of most third world countries, moreso those in Africa, the nation despite being resource reach and having all the potential still remains a peripheral nation. Nevertheless, for this to happen, the aforementioned issues in this paper must be addressed and possible solutions such as those mentioned in this paper applied in order to usher the nation out of its class as a peripheral nation.


Contemporary Semiperipheral Development: the regimes and the movements. (2017). Retrieved 22 April 2017, from

Murori, K. (2017). 7 Top Reasons Why Africa Is Still Poor, 2017 | The African ExponentThe African Exponent. Retrieved 22 April 2017, from

Poverty in Kenya: 10 Lesser Known Facts About It. (2017). Kenya News | Breaking News on Retrieved 22 April 2017, from

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