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Source: World Factbook map, 2006


The Republic of Kenya lies astride the equator in eastern Africa and is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the southeast, Somalia to the northeast, Ethiopia to the north, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west and Tanzania to the south. Lake Victoria is situated to the southwest, and is shared with Uganda and Tanzania. It has a land area of 580,367 km2 (224,080 sq mi) and had an estimated population in 2010 of 40,046,566.

In 2009 the following ethnic groups were reported in Kenya: Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, non-African (Asian, European, and Arab) 1%. Religious affiliation was reported as follows: Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, Muslim 10%, indigenous beliefs 10%, other 2%.

1990 Article

The name is derived from the Gikuyu word for Mt. Kenya (Kere-Nyaga). Much of the north and eastern part of the country is semiarid. Most of the country's people live on the southwestern highlands (3,700-10,000 ft. [1,100-3,000 m.] altitude) with ideal temperatures and rainfall. The Great Rift Valley pierces Kenya from north to south, west of the capital Nairobi.

In the mid-19th century the British entered East Africa to protect their shipping routes to India. A railroad was built from Mombasa to Lake Victoria to create a link with Uganda, over which they had claimed a protectorate. Nairobi, begun as a railroad supply station, soon became the capital of Kenya. The British government then encouraged settlers to farm the highlands in the area north and west of Nairobi. The Gikuyu were forced onto reservations.

The Gikuyu resented this taking of their land, so they organized politically to better their situation. After World War II, a secret society known as the Mau Mau was formed. Its members pledged to reduce the influence and presence of the Europeans. Violence in the early 1950s led to the declaration of a state of emergency. The Mau Mau leader Jomo Kenyatta was arrested and sent into detention to the barren northwest. In 1963 the British granted Kenya its independence with Kenyatta as president. He made the Swahili word Harambee (pull together) a national slogan. He was succeeded in 1978 by Daniel arap Moi. Daniel arap Moi was succeeded in 2002 by Mwai Kibaki.

When the Mennonite Church entered Kenya, Nairobi became the center for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities programs. The Mennonite Guesthouse established in the 1960s provided a valuable service to missionaries of all denominations who come to Nairobi for business and rest. Rosslyn Academy was founded in 1967 to serve the elementary education needs of missionary children in Tanzania and Somalia. The Baptist mission joined with the Mennonites in the operation of the school in 1976. Beginning in 1988 a high school was added to further its ministry. MCC involvement began with a Teacher's Abroad Program and has moved toward development work in the drier areas of the country, particularly among several nomadic tribes.

2011 Update

In 2012 the following Anabaptist denominations were active in Kenya:

Denominations Congregations in 1978 Membership in 1978 Congregations in 1990 Membership in 1990 Congregations in 2000 Membership in 2000 Congregations in 2006 Membership in 2006 Congregations in 2012 Membership in 2012
Brethren in Christ Church Kenya Conference 25 4,900
Christian Believers Fellowship (Beachy Amish) 5 253 8 477 13 748
Christian Church International (formerly African Christian Church of East Africa) 1 160 11,500 238 12,000 310 17,000
Church of God in Christ, Mennonite 2 118
Kenya Mennonite Church 25 1,200 66 4,900 108 15,915 108 15,915 140 11,800
Total 25 1,200 66 4,900 273 27,668 354 28,392 490 34,566
Source: Mennonite Encyclopedia, v. 5, p. 487

1Of the 238 congregations in 2003, 15 are in Congo and one in Uganda.

2Membership and Congregation numbers were not updated for 2006.

See also Kanisa la Mennonite Tanzania (North Mara Diocese).


Central Intelligence Agency. "Kenya." The World Factbook. Web. 10 April 2011.

Kraybill, Paul N., ed. Mennonite World Handbook: A Survey of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches, 1978. Lombard, ILL: Mennonite World Conference, 1978: 85-90.

Lichdi, Diether Götz, ed. Mennonite World Handbook 1990: Mennonites in Global Witness. Carol Stream, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1990.

Mennonite World Conference. "2000 Africa Mennonite & Brethren in Christ Churches." Web. 10 April 2011.

Mennonite World Conference. "2003 Africa Mennonite & Brethren in Christ Churches." Web. 10 April 2011.

Mennonite World Conference. "Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches Worldwide, 2006: Africa." Web. 2 March 2011.

Mennonite World Conference. World Directory = Directorio mundial = Répertoire mondial 2012: Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Related Churches = Iglesias Menonitas, de los Hermanos en Cristo y afines = Églises Mennonites, Frères en Christ et Apparentées. Kitchener, ON: Mennonite World Conference, 2012: 5.

Mennonite World Handbook Supplement. Strasbourg, France, and Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1984: 13.

Wikipedia. "Kenya." Web. 10 April 2011.

Author(s) Daniel L. Wenger
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published April 2011

Cite This Article

MLA style

Wenger, Daniel L. and Richard D. Thiessen. "Kenya." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2011. Web. 20 Jun 2018.

APA style

Wenger, Daniel L. and Richard D. Thiessen. (April 2011). Kenya. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 June 2018, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 486-488. All rights reserved.

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