Somalis in Kenya
|900,000 (1989 census)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|North Eastern Province · Nairobi · Mombasa|
|Somali (mother tongue)
English, Swahili (working languages)
Somalis in Kenya are citizens and residents of Kenya who are of Somali descent. They have historically inhabited the Northern Frontier District (North Eastern Province), which was carved out of the Jubaland region of present-day southern Somalia during the colonial period. Following the civil war in Somalia that broke out in 1991, many Somalis sought asylum in the Somali-inhabited enclaves of Kenya. An entrepreneurial community, they established themselves in the business sector, particularly in the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh.
According to the 1989 Kenyan census, approximately 900,000 ethnic Somali people live in Kenya. Although provisional results from the 2009 census reported a much larger number of over 2.3 million Somali residents, they are believed to be inaccurate due to inconsistencies in the gathered data. The figure has consequently been nullified for an official recount.
SIL Ethnologue reports a breakdown of the Somali population in Kenya from the 1989 census, consisting of 45,098 individuals, as well as an additional number of Somalis identified on a clan basis: 27,244 from the Hawiye clan, 100,400 from the Degodia clan, and 139,597 from the Ogaden clan.
Somalis in Kenya have historically inhabited the Northern Frontier District (NFD), later renamed the North Eastern Province. The NFD came into being in 1925, when it was carved out of the Jubaland region in present-day southern Somalia. At the time under British colonial administration, the northern half of Jubaland was ceded to Italy as a reward for the Italians' support of the Allies during World War I. Britain retained control of the southern half of the territory, which was later called the Northern Frontier District.
On June 26, 1960, four days before granting British Somaliland independence, the British government declared that all Somali-inhabited areas of East Africa should be unified in one administrative region. However, after the dissolution of the former British colonies in the region, Britain granted administration of the Northern Frontier District to Kenyan nationalists despite an informal plebiscite demonstrating the overwhelming desire of the region's population to join the newly formed Somali Republic, and the fact that the NFD was almost exclusively inhabited by ethnic Somalis.
On the eve of Kenya's independence in August 1963, British officials belatedly realized that the new Kenyan regime was not willing to give up the Somali-inhabited areas it had just been granted administration of. Led by the Northern Province People's Progressive Party (NPPPP), Somalis in the NFD vigorously sought union with their kin in the Somali Republic to the north. In response, the Kenyan government enacted a number of repressive measures designed to frustrate their efforts in what came to be known as the Shifta War. Although the conflict ended in a cease-fire, Somalis in the region still identify and maintain close ties with their brethren in Somalia. They have traditionally married within their own community and formed a cohesive ethnic network.
Following the civil war in Somalia that broke out in 1991, many Somalis sought asylum in the Somali-inhabited enclaves in Kenya. An entrepreneurial community, they established themselves in the business sector, investing over $1.5 billion in Eastleigh alone. Starting in late 2012, a mass exodus of Somali residents was reported after a prolonged period of harassment by the Kenyan police and public. Hundreds of Somali entrepreneurs withdrew between Sh10 to Sh40 billion from their bank accounts, with the intention of reinvesting most of that money back home in Somalia. The collective departures most affected Eastleigh's real estate sector, as landlords struggled to find Kenyans able to afford the high rates of the apartments and shops vacated by the Somalis.
- Kenya: 2009 Census Delayed Over Somali Numbers
- Anger As Census Results Cancelled
- Kenya's census results put it at 38.6 million people
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- Kenya/Somalia: Somalia community doing booming business in country
- Help Locals Rebuild Their Country By Ensuring World Attention And Peace
- Mohammed, Guled (9 January 2013). "Kenya: The Cost of Harassing Somalis Over Terror". The Star. Retrieved 13 January 2013.