The People of Kenya, Social Issues
Kalenjin, substandard housing, rural poverty, central Kenya, ethnic identity
The social structure that evolved in Kenya during colonial times emphasized race and class. The dominance of whites over blacks was reinforced through segregation of the races and, within the black African population, of the various ethnic groups. Within each ethnic group, status was determined largely by wealth. After Kenya gained independence in 1963, race ceased to be an important indicator of social status, but wealth and ethnic identity remained significant. Today, a number of Kenya’s problems result from disparities in wealth. These problems include pervasive urban and rural poverty, overcrowded and substandard housing in urban areas, and a relatively high rate of unemployment. In the 1990s the country also witnessed periodic clashes between ethnic groups, particularly between Kalenjin and Kikuyu peoples in west central Kenya.
Tropical diseases, including malaria, have long been a public health problem in Kenya. In recent years, infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has also become a serious cause for concern. The unreliability of rainfall in certain parts of the nation has produced periodic food shortages.
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