Kenyan Americans

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Kenyan Americans
Total population
estimated 92,638[1]
Regions with significant populations
Major concentrations in California, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., other communities in Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Texas
Swahili, English (Kenyan dialect)
Roman Catholicism and Protestantism

Kenyan Americans are Americans of Kenyan descent. As of the 2010 census, there were an estimated 92,638 Kenyan-born persons living in the United States. Most Kenyan Americans are concentrated in the greater Washington, D.C. area, Texas, California, Indiana, Maryland, Georgia, New York and North Carolina.[2]


Restrictions against immigration from Asia and Africa led to little voluntary immigration from Kenya until the latter half of the 20th century. Kenyan emigration to the United States then noted a large increase, nearly doubling from the decades before.

This increase was caused by several factors; political instability and a downturn in the economy in the 1980s in Kenya coupled with a high rate of unemployment (over 35 percent) led to a greater desire to immigrate. Some immigrants were also attracted to technology-oriented careers in the United States that boomed in availability in the 1990s and early 2000s.[2]


Kenyan American come from ethnic groups such as the Kikuyu, Kisii, Luhya, Kamba, Kalenjin or Luo people.

The largest populations of Kenyans in the United States are found in Massachusetts and the greater Washington, D.C. area. There are also large populations in Texas, California, and parts of the Midwest. Many Kenyans are established in Georgia and North Carolina, states with important health care and technological centers.

According to the 2010 census, approximately one-third of persons born in Kenya who are living in the US have become naturalized citizens[1] While many Kenyan Americans express the desire to eventually return to Kenya, the instability of Kenya's economy deters them. Those who remain in the US maintain contact with their Kenyan relatives and make frequent trips to Kenya.[2]

Education and socioeconomics[edit]

African immigrants are among the most educated groups in the United States. Like their recent immigrant counterparts Kenyan Americans give a high value to education. This has allowed them to find skilled positions. Even during their initial adjustment period, Kenyan Americans usually do not require assistance like other immigrants, and they tend to have an overall high employment rate. Also, most Kenyans are already fluent in English, giving them an even greater advantage over other immigrant groups. Most Kenyans gravitate toward technology fields. Many also enter health care professions, especially nursing. Some also become doctors, lawyers, college professors, and business owners and managers.[2]


Like other immigrant groups living in the US, Kenyan Americans have created many organizations. These include the Kenya Diaspora Advisory Council, the Kenya American Association, the Kenyan-Cincinnati Association ("kcaweb", whose goal is to facilitate Kenyan integration in social and cultural scopes in the tri-state area and promoting awareness of the culture of Kenya in the United States),[3] the Minnesota Kenyan International Development Association ("MKIDA", formed in 2003, to improve education and the economy of the Kenyan Americans) and KACA (Kenyan Americans Community Association).

Kenyan-American Chamber of Commerce (KACC, Inc.) was formed in 1999. This is a private investment company to increase development of Kenyan communities with investments in technology, educational, and other sectors. The organization also drives trade and culture between Kenya and the United States.

The American Kenyan Educational Corporation focuses on funding secondary school students and building schools in Kenya.[2]

Notable people[edit]

  • Lupita Nyong'o, Kenyan Mexican, Academy Award-winning actor known for the movie 12 years a slave and marvel cinematic universe superhero movie black panther as Nakia
  • Edi Gathegi, actor known for recurring character Dr. Jeffrey Cole (aka "Big Love") in the television series House, and as Laurent in the films Twilight and its sequel The Twilight Saga: New Moon
  • Bernard Lagat, athlete for Kenya, now representing the US (of Nandi Kalenjin descent)
  • Tom Morello, rock musician; of Kikuyu, Irish, and Italian descent
  • Liza Mucheru-Wisner, a finalist on season 10 of reality show The Apprentice[4]
  • Ben Mutua Jonathan Muriithi, also known as BMJ Muriithi, journalist and actor based in Atlanta, Georgia; works for Voice of America and Nation Media Group
  • Isis Nyong'o, media and technology leader
  • Mubarak Muyika, Silicon-valley based Entrepreneur known for founding his first company at 16 and selling it two years later in a six figure deal.
  • Tavia Nyong'o, scholar and professor
  • Barack Obama, President of the United States; of half Kenyan (Luo) descent; his father was born there
  • David Otunga, professional wrestler for WWE
  • The Physics, hip hop group in Seattle, Washington; of Kenyan descent
  • Mwende Window Snyder, of (American- Kamba descent), computer software engineer; senior security project manager at Apple Inc.
  • See also[edit]


    1. ^ a b Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). "American FactFinder - Results". Retrieved 13 August 2015.
    2. ^ a b c d e "Kenyan Americans - History, Modern era, Significant immigration waves, Acculturation and Assimilation". Retrieved 13 August 2015.
    3. ^ "Kenyan-Cincinnati Association - …Lets grow together!". Retrieved 13 August 2015.
    4. ^ "Donald Trump's apprentice comes home". Daily Nation.