10 Amusing Misconceptions Foreigners Have About Kenya

Contrary to what people might think, Kenya is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, full of natural beauty, fascinating attractions and exciting things to see and do. The beauty of this country is not to be missed. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about Africa in the west. Many of these assumptions about our beautiful Motherland are based on what people see on TV or the kind of history books they read. Information that is often backdated skewed towards the negative or even absolutely misrepresented at times.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Kenya

We present 10 amusing misconceptions foreigners have about Kenya, which are not even true, Kenya is a beautiful and developed country:

1. Kenya is riddled with Lions roaming the streets

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Photo Source: Alejandro Caceres on Flickr

This is a huge misconception. No, we do not have lions roaming about in the middle of the streets or taking selfies with the rest of us. We have lions and other exotic animals. Our country is an open land where wild life thrives. However, this does not mean that they live among people.  We have National Parks and Game Reserves where our beautiful wildlife dwells and they are very beautiful.

2. Kenyans wear Leopard skins

Kenya Fashion

Photo Source: Realtimefix Blog

First of all, leopards are some of our highly priced wild animals and killing them is extremely illegal. And for the leopard skin wearing locals, that just doesn’t happen. Yes, there are entertainers who use leopard-print costumes, but that is just for entertainment. We have clothes here and we love fashion. You should check out Kenya’s fashion scene, we have the same love and admiration for fashion just as Americans do. Some of the most highly valued designer clothing chains such as  Zara, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and so many more have stores that displays their brands in Nairobi and other cities in the country.

3. Kenyans live on trees

Nairobi neigbourhoods

Photo Source: Nairobinews.co.ke

No one lives on trees. Kenya has one of the most vibrant real estate industries in Africa, if not the world. But forget about high-rise apartment buildings and gated communities (which we also have plenty of), we’ve gone full circle. We even have gorgeous lodges and luxury camps for those looking to have the “authentic African experience”. We do even have killer hammocks and star-beds.

4. Kenyans do not have cell phones, service or data

Masai phone

Photo Source: Webmania.co

Kenya is riddled with all types of cell phones. We even have Apple’s priced iPhone here. In fact, CCK (Communications Commission of Kenya) places the number of mobile subscribers in the country at just under 30 million. (29.8 million as of this March). This is a country with just over 43 million people. As for data and cell service, Safaricom, Airtel and Orange, the leading cell carriers in the country have boosters all over the place. Of course, there are regions without service, but those just happen to be the remotest of places.

5. Kenya is ‘crime-ridden’

Do we have crime in this country? Well, sometimes but it happens everywhere. Most foreigners who have visited this country will tell you that Kenyans are a very friendly lot. Not gun-totting highway bandits.

6. Kenyans don’t have cars, they run everywhere

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Photo Source: Tcktcktck.org

Kenyans just do not run to whatever place they need to be. We have public transportation, luxury vehicles, trains, boats, motorbikes, and we even have private planes.

7. Kenyans know each other

This is a country with well over 43 million citizens, not to mention immigrants and expatriates. We do not know everyone, but we are very friendly lot. We tend to say hello to most of the people we come across. That does not mean we know them. It just means that we are more sociable than some communities.

8. Kenya is a jungle that is as hot as hell

We embody the phrase ‘African Safari’ and that is because we have great expansive savannah riddled with exotic wild life, lush forests and mountains that simply defy reason. We also have four main cities and a myriad of towns. Additionally, we enjoy tropical weather but some parts of the country like Nanyuki get so cold that it even snows sometimes. So, yeah, Kenya has nice, ‘sun-tanny’ weather, but it is not a jungle that is as hot as hell.

9. Kenyans live in mud huts

There are some rural parts of the country that still have huts, but you wouldn’t want to miss that experience. We also have a major tourist attraction called the Bomas of Kenya, where we have recreated the indigenous huts of our people. some of our people live in high-rise apartment buildings, luxury villas and brick or block homes. The Maasai, our most priced “true to their culture” people still largely live in Manyattas…and we love them for it.

10. Kenyans eat only roots and wild herbs

Chicken Pilau

The whole world could use some roots and wild herbs because they are healthy. However, Kenya has an eclectic range of food options to choose from. We always celebrate Kenya’s heritage with our classic recipe that will take you back to your mom’s kitchen when you visit our country. We have delicious foods such as Pilau, Ugali and vegetables, our favourite Nyama Choma and many others.  We have a host of other themed restaurants that serve foods from all around the world. We even have Pizza, so you can’t starve when you visit.

If you haven’t visited Kenya, you probably should. New adventure awaits you here!

What are some of the most hilarious misconceptions you have heard about Kenya and Africa in general? Share your experience with us in the comments section below:

Our Readers Comments

  1. Hi love it althuogh think no need to justify since all those are just ignorant people.they must say something to feel better.we have huts we own them no morgage.as in abroad thousands are homeless .and again luck of knowledge many have not travelled so they think that only their mother make best meal”kikuyu saying”

    • Thank you for that lia. I knew there was someone out there who shared my views. What if we were to advance our cities and call them villages? If we were to make amazing houses similar to our traditional ones, but still call them houses. And isn’t running to work healthier and better for our environment than using vehicles? roots and wild herbs taste better than processed products by the way. We shouldn’t let the west dictate “good ” and “advanced “, let’s do what we’ve always done well and be proud if it, not justify their ignorance.

    • Huts*

    • Ngugi, I could not say any better than you did!!! We have always tried to be like the west? who will remain to be true African specifically true Kenyan, Americans have their culture that is okay, we got ours too, and we have to stick to it and make it better, westernization is not making anything better, it is taking someone’s problems.

  2. mmmh am proud to be a kenyan

  3. Very interesting…

  4. Cobblers.

  5. Some may not see the importance of this article but believe me there are many people, especially in the US and Europe, who don’t know the things you have said. Thanks for this!

  6. That is where civilization has so far taken them.That is reasoning at its elastic limit.

  7. Imagine a foreigner asking a whole post graduate student whether we go to school naked in Kenya. In response, I told him that I wore my clothes at the airport, just before boarding the plane. This reply was intended to make him remain even more ignorant.

  8. Your shity research is boring,,No one inthe world would think of that.Research was done 1940’s .
    You making Kenya look we in the wild.

    • @Jody Johse, you’d be surprised at the level of ignorance of some people from outside Africa and particularly those who have never been to Africa. I personally have been asked if I got clothes at the airport upon arrival and another good one, you must have gone to school in the US, you sound educated and speak very eloquently. Hahaha!!! Yeah, we are all a bunch of naked bush men making clicking sounds to a lot of Westerners.

    • The research is solid. As unbelievable as it might sound, this was based on actual comments from real people.

  9. come on, we are not in 1920s

  10. Haha ati Kenyans run everywhere funny!a German friend of mine was suprised i actually had a better phone than hers hehe

  11. In fact,it is true that Kenya is a beautiful country,keep on and make them know this!
    otherwise thanks a lot.

  12. No. 5 is true. The place is full of crimes, particularly in Nairobi .. it is competing with South Africa. And indeed corrupt to the teeth. But it is beautiful country and if it wasn’t for the corruption it would have been even more beautiful.

  13. Foolish whoever said Kenya Doesnot have above basic things.. we are proud to be Kenyans

  14. Once, while in Holland some mzungu asked if me if I had to walk all the way to SA to catch a plane and that Kenyans are such good runners because they must on running away from lions which roam all over.

  15. Kenya is our country we love most. This is home to all people who loves peace. Come and see the magics in this Beautiful country. Be Kenyan To feel the warmth of Love.

  16. Hahaha…..Come on..we are more than civilised! Beautiful Country, good people and a wealthy Country too. You are all welcome.

  17. the first bit was hillarious

  18. those are just ignorant people.

  19. If only the named misconceptions and myths were true….We would be a unique country- and all the more reason to visit Kenya,don’t you think?

  20. This is true. When I visited the US in 2004, someone asked me where I am from…I said Kenya…he then asked me if Kenya is in Nigeria or South Africa…..? others would ask if you see the elephant when you wake up in the morning or if you have airports……..these people are still ignorant about Africa.

  21. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion.Let them says whatever they have learned from their Mungo park legacy.The fact remain that you are an unconscious patriot promoting the ignorance of those “SACRED ALBINO’S”Living in Western World is never a cure to foolish thinking.It is beyond amusement.

  22. Three years back, I remember taking a German friend around Nairobi city, all he did was take loads of pictures. He had to prove to Germans back home that Kenya has a city endowed with sky scrappers and that it’s a country, not an African town with its city being south Africa.

  23. Quite a good piece. Wouldn’t trade my homeland for any other place! I’m enjoying reading the comments though Hehe

  24. Some missconceptions are true,civilization in kenya is mostly in urban centers,some towns are well served in infrastructure very well.but i huge parts like north eastern,town like isiolo ,moyale marsabet laisamis are as achaic as neolithic,lads learn under the trees,women get children in the bushes by bush doctors,no electricity nor water,lions and people look alike,i have been there and i stayed for months,no communication network,no hospital,is the jungle where most of them know only their mother tongue,missionaries help people to read and write.they dont know even the president!.you can spend 3 months without seeing a police!.we love our country but we shud also point out the negatives.goverment employes dont like working there.so in few hospitals which are available,patients wait for months to be cared.kenya is only good in southern sides.so just be honest to yourself.dont let patriotism blind you.

  25. WTH? I have lived in Kenya for more than 8 years and could not have come up with that list. Must have been written by an American sitting in the deep South and “googling” stereotypes. None of these, including unfortunately (and most importantly) the “tourism board approved ‘explanations’ ” are true, up to date or even remotely resembling reality. Really?! Come on guys, Kenya is waaaaay more forward than that. By even acknowledging these types of misconceptions they are bound to self perpetuate.

  26. Please leave your comment…well this aliens especial whites, if you talk to them they paint you with such pictures.

  27. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. Surely how ignorant can you get in this day and age. How come we keep hearing about these misconceptions over and over again? Do people not read or interact with each other? Shame on these foreigners!
    I love Kenya and there is no other place in the world I would rather be!

  28. Im jazzed by the way some people reason? Going to school naked… Those are the same pple who ask you if you have tail? I pity them. They would claim to be more exposed and intelligent than you African.

  29. falsehood at its best… as for the crime… Kubali yaishe… Nai is among the top leading cities with high crime rate.

  30. About saying hullo to most of he people you come across, Ah ah, i don’t think so. The people are not exactly that friendly, you might greet a person and you will as well go without a reply. They so don’t greet that when you take the initiative to do so the response is a gaze of awe from them.

  31. i live in the tallest tree yeeey!..leopard skins are actually very warm

  32. Patriotic enough.

  33. Yeah.. I also asked some foreigner about how Kenya is thought of in his country… He told me that the only thing they know about all Kenyans is that they run very fast and know lots about wild animals….

  34. thanks for being patriotic and taking your time to prove to the world that indeed kenya is the pride of africa;and is furthermore ever moving forward despite challanges,by the grace of God.

  35. that kimani guy that uttered negative remarks bout isiolo u r just another ignorant dude, U are steering negative expose of your country. Isiolo is a fast growing town bana, please take a visit soonest before it transforms into a city…

  36. Our huts, our food, our clothes, our animals and our land with everyone on it, All Kenyan. No need to justify anything. As long as I hav my people(you guys), I don’t care what they say. So what, if we live with animals? Isn’t it cool to live wit animals n take selfies? Even the bible embraces it ‘righteous is the man who loves animals”.

  37. @Jody Johse, you’d be surprised at the level of ignorance of some people from outside Africa and particularly those who have never been to Africa. I personally have been asked if I got clothes at the airport upon arrival and another good one, you must have gone to school in the US, you sound educated and speak very eloquently. Hahaha!!! Yeah, we are all a bunch of naked bush men making clicking sounds to a lot of Westerners.

  38. I they claim to hv gd food why do the likes of Wanyama carry unga & fish when going back to their country, tell them to came & see wth their on eyes

  39. OMG!In this current world?They sure are analog,ignorant and uncivilized I bet!Though not the whole lot of them…The bunch of specimen I’ve met barely reasons. Uhuru will host Obama in one of the tallest Mugumo trees very soon,I wonder where his jet will land!

  40. @kamau wa mwangi.. Have you really been to the North??I doubt it..Isiolo, Marsabit moyale, laisamis towns have electricity, hospitals ie moyale general Hospital, Sololo mission hospital, laisamis mission hospital, isiolo general Hospital, Marsabit general Hospital , schools ie moyale boys, Moyale girls, Sololo boys, obbu girls. Moi girls Marsabit, Marsabit boys,. Security facilities like Odda military camp in moyale, Moyale police division h/q. Several military bases in isiolo. marsabit County police H/q.. Isiolo international airport is also almost complete. All the towns u have mentioned are fairly served by several cell phone company. Isiolo moyale Highway is almost complete.

  41. Kenya waaa I love my country and am proud to be kenyan

  42. You sugar-coat ugly, you still have ugly. KENYA & most her people are very beautiful indeed…but what you talk about only people with money can enjoy, which is probably less than 10% of Kenya’s population. But I better stop here, because people don’t like truth much now-a-days.

    • @Renee, yes, most of the country is a little on the ‘poor’ side. But stats show that the Kenyan mid-class is growing at an impressive rate. These are the people who have a great deal of disposable income. They are actually the ones who are driving our local tourism industry as the rest of the world is still unsure about the security level.

  43. It is always very surprising to see the level of ignorance among non-kenyans. Another one you have to add is that- we have more corruption than any country in the world and that we need help. Kenya is awesome, and just as political other countries are, we are a democracy just 50 years old! Another assumption is that we need help all the time, no, we don’t really need help- Kenya has very rich people too! We have problems just as there are homeless people in the US and elsewhere!

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