18 Bad Things about Kenya

What are some of the bad things about Kenya?

I know … this country is a gem – you know, great weather, great people … pretty stable systems and institutions.

However, like any other country in the world, Kenya has her bad side, or her fair share of nasties. In another article, we asked: Is Kenya safe for tourists? We saw that largely it is, but one would do better to avoid some places altogether!

In the same “spirit,” here, we shall look at the things that may make you avoid Kenya, if you are a tourist, or want to be more wary about your country, if you are Kenyan.

Top bad things about Kenya

Overall, this is a good country, bordering Ethiopia and South Sudan to the north, Uganda to the west, Somalia to the East and Tanzania to the south. However, there are some bad things to beware of when you go to Kenya:

1. Corruption is rife in Kenya

Why I hate Kenya

Corruption is rampant in Kenya. It is everywhere too – in the private as well as public sectors. In courts, files disappear until you grease a palm or two. In police stations, there is no justice for the have-nots. It is for sale to the highest bidder.

But it is not just the systems that are to blame. Everyone in the country is corrupt to the core! For instance, if a motorist is stopped for driving an unroadworthy vehicle, they will insist to “pay” the traffic officer rather than go to court.

Even the best school positions are for sale. Even if your child performs well in Primary school and is admitted to the top national schools, the school principal will sell that position to a rich kid who did not merit the position.

Corruption also rears its ugly head in hospitals. In April 2020, Ken Walibora, a  renowned Swahili author and TV personality lay for 14 hours in the waiting area of Kenyatta National Hospital with severe stab injuries.

He would later pass on, with someone in the hospital saying they could not attend to him in time because they did not know he was. The stabbing injuries had made him unrecognizable.

2. Service priority is given to white foreigners

Apparently, they tip better! If you are white, service providers in the hospitality industry will fall over their heads to prioritize your needs over those of the locals.

That is, until they know you are broke, that is, if you are broke!  Expect to see this around in the hotels, restaurants, and other areas.

If you are a local Kenyan, do not be surprised to see the service providers giving you lackluster attention.

3. Poor public transport

why I hate kenyan matatus

If you think of public transport meaning transport provided by the government by rail or road, it is non-existent! Privateers and profiteers form the crazy matatu sector and they run the public transport sector.

The only thing that seems to work properly is the train service from Nairobi to Mombasa. However, even this has its downsides.

For instance, the railway station is many kilometers out of the CBD, and the traffic jams are crazy. Besides, you have to book the train ticket way in advance.

There are so many minibuses and buses plying the different routes in the country. However, they are never on time. You might have to travel crazy hours, getting late all the time.

Driven by maniacs, these buses are prone to road crashes, often killing tens of people at a go. Over 3000 people lose their life to road crashes annually.

Tell you what… you are way safer driving yourself than being driven by a bus driver.

4. Kenya is low-key homophobic

Forget all the “coming out” stuff on social media, but Kenya is low-key homophobic. You can see it all over social media. You can hear the innuendo and you can see the disapproving looks on Makena Njeri.

While Kenya is better than all of its neighbors when it comes to embracing people of different sexual orientations, it still has a long way to go.

If you are not of the regular sexual orientation, public disclosure is frowned upon.

5. Kenya is a drinking nation

Alcohol abuse in Kenya

In Kenya, the motto is… Are you happy? Drink! Are you sad? Drink. New baby born into your family? Drink! Lost a family member? Drink. Bored? Drink. Drunk already? Drink some more! If alcohol abuse was a country, it would be called Kenya.

Every Friday, Kenya becomes a nyama choma (grilled meat) and drinking haven. While this is mostly a preserve for the well-to-do, it is a concern for everyone because they drink and drive.

6. Poor housing for low income earners – bad things about living in Kenya

poor housing standard in kenya

Low income earners who make up the majority of the population live in dilapidated conditions in the urban centers.

The houses are small and substandard yet the rent is too high. The cleanliness and the general condition is wanting. In addition, we have had many buildings collapsing while occupied because the owners did not adhere to the recommended building standards.

Proper housing is available, always at exaggerated rent prices across the well-to-do estates in the country, but especially Nairobi.

7. The capital city is poorly planned and managed

It is one thing to have five million people jostling for space in a city that was designed for half that, but it is another thing to have unruly traffic in the CBD, hawkers everywhere, street children, eyesore buildings standing alongside, modern high-rise buildings in the city center, and so on!

8. Extrajudicial killings in Kenya

extrajudicial killings in Kenya

Sometimes, we are tempted to think that Kenyan police kill more people than criminals. The sad thing is that they almost always tend to get away with it.

The wheels of justice grind ever so slowly in this country especially if you institute a case against the police. How can criminals in uniform investigate themselves? And the IPOA  does seem to be all bark and no bite!

The public also does laud these extrajudicial killings. The failed criminal justice system releases many serious offenders back into society without punishing them appropriately.

The public feels that the police playing the roles of prosecutor, jury and executioner serves them well.

By the way, some rogue police officers also hire out their guns to criminals, fueling the already runaway crime to higher levels.

9. Boring food -Yuck!

horrible food in Nairobi

Unfortunately, Kenya is not known for its cuisine, that is, unless you go to the coast. Our food is bland, boring and tasteless.

Kenyans as a whole avoid eating spicy foods, and the daily cooking ingredients for taste are limited to coriander, onions and tomatoes.

Our main staple is starch (cornmeal) with sprinklings of greens, meats and fishes. Daily, we switch from one starch to another and boy! Don’t we love huge heapings of ugali, chapati, rice and other starches.

Not only do we have poor choices of foods, but we also cook them badly, poorly and without a care in the world. Here, we eat to feel sated and not to savor food.

10. Lots of petty crime

Mugging is real, as is pick-pocketing and conning. If anyone offers you a freebie in Nairobi, think twice. If you are a foreigner and you are buying something on the streets, the price goes up many notches.

Walking in the dark is a real risk especially for women and girls and so is doing long distance solo trips.

Public transport is also rife with pick-pocketing and a scatter of hijackings, and bandit attacks in the northern frontier district. Many people have lost money and important documents in buses.

11. Bad things about Nairobi – Rubbish

Worst thing about Kenya

If you visit Nairobi or anywhere in Kenya for the first time, do not be surprised if you see someone eat a banana and drop the peels on the ground.

Paper, cigarette butts, water bottles, used sanitary towels and diapers are all over. That is the general state of the streets in Nairobi!

This has become so ingrained in our culture such that it is now second nature. The poor waste management systems also contribute to this.

There are papers strewn everywhere, biodegradable materials (foods) and recycling services are virtually non-existent.

12. Too many churches

Kenya has too many churches, especially in the urban centers. Churches have become the new moneymaking ventures.

churches in kenya

In addition, there is minimal control over them. It is possible to have three or more churches, each within walking distance. Imagine all of them mounting blaring speakers facing outside.

In some places in Nairobi, it is practically impossible to sleep on Friday nights as churchgoers attend kesha.

While Kenya is a secular nation according to the constitution, the people are too :religious.” They also frown over everyone who is not religious, such as the Atheists Society of Kenya.

There are Muslims chanting their prayer call, traditionalists threatening their tribesmen, Christians with loud music and many others.

Everyone thinks their God is the best! They believe their truth is the only truth in the universe.

13. Drunken driving

Among all the bad things about Kenya, this is the worst one of them all. Most motorists don’t care about sobriety.

They will drink and get behind the wheel, without worrying about the danger they pose to themselves and other road users.

All of this happens under the”watchful” eyes of the police, who look the other way for small bribes.

14. Uncertainty every 5 years

According to the constitution, the general election in Kenya takes place on 9th August every five years. This is a time to be wary of heightened tempers, tribal affiliations and poor choices of leaders.

In fact, the worst moment in Kenya’s history was recorded during the politicking times. The problem further exacerbates because the politicking season never seems to end, starting again as soon as the general election is over – to campaign for the next general election.

While things seem to be moving along well, we feel the country is a ticking time bomb that could explode into a repeat of the 2007/2008 post election violence that saw both the 2022 outgoing president and incoming president go to the International Criminal Court to answer to charges of mass killing, displacement, and rape.

15. Natural disasters – bad things about Kenya

Every year, Kenya experiences a natural disaster or two. Mostly, these come in the form of flash floods especially in the northern parts.

When it rains in the Ethiopian highlands, some of the runoff finds its way to the dry northern Kenya, catching many locals unawares.

Prolonged drought is another serious disaster. 60 years after independence and having expansive land and fertile soils, Kenya cannot feed herself and has to rely on help from USAID, the UN bodies and other NGOs to feed her people.

This is attributable to poor leadership that capitalizes on mega infrastructure while excluding investment in irrigation agriculture.

16. Terrorism is still a threat!

Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and other big towns are about 90 percent safe. However, when you step into the northern frontier districts, that’s where danger sets in. The danger of Al-Shabaab militants crossing over from Somalia to Kenya is very real.

terrorist attack at west gate nairobi

They attack non-locals and even the police. If you are a white tourist, you could be in danger of kidnapping for ransom.

In some parts of western and northwestern Kenya, domestic terrorism in the form of cattle rustling and raiding is rampant.

Also, the borders that Kenya shares with Ethiopia and South Sudan are prone to danger, with cattle raiders coming from the two countries terrorizing the local communities.

17. Fake sense of self-importance

Oh, Nairobi is the New York of East Africa, Oh Kenya is a God-fearing nation, oh The Kikuyu are the chosen tribe, Luos speak the best English …etc!

All bull if you ask me! Kenya is great in its own way. Ethiopia is great in many more ways, so is Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and other countries. The only difference is that they don’t rub it in anyone’s face.

And while many would like to pretend that the Kikuyu feel more privileged and more tribalistic, it is a lie!

Every tribe feels superior to others. Every tribe has many unfounded prejudices against the other tribes. The sense of mtu wetu  is real.

Fake Ubuntu!

18. Exaggerated cost for everything

cost of living in kenya

Nairobi is not the costliest city in Africa. Some like Cairo, Harare, Addis Ababa, Dakar, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Marrakesh have higher cost of living index scores.

But I dare you to try living in Nairobi, in a proper apartment and see if you don’t pay through your nose.

Try buying proper, organically-grown and non-contaminated food and see whether you don’t pay through your nose.

The exaggerated cost of things has earned Nairobi the unpopular name of Nairobbery. 

What is the biggest problem in Kenya?

The biggest problem in Kenya is that there are too many religious people with zero integrity. The Christians are specifically notorious for claiming to love The Lord, but they are the most corrupt, angry, immoral and unhappy lot you ever did see.

What is the need of claiming to be a Christian if you do not do what Jesus would do? We would rather everyone would start by being a nice person first and a Christian, Muslim, Traditionalist or Catholic second.

Another big problem in Kenya is tribalism! If he or she is not of my tribe, they are inferior! My tribe contributes more to the economy.

My language is better, my vote carries more power, I eat better food, we make better leaders … These are the thoughts that run in the minds of most people from the 43 tribes (and sub-tribes) in Kenya.

Governments of the day fill the public positions with their tribesmen, who speak their vernacular languages in public offices and generally carry too much prejudice against other tribes. It’s nauseating!

Is it safe to travel to Kenya right now?

There are many bad things about Kenya. However, still we ask: is it safe to travel in Kenya right now?

It is safe to live in Kenya any time. It depends on where you want to live and where you come from.

If you are white, the low-income estates and apartments might not be suitable for you. If you are a middle class Kenyan, choose a middle-income estate.

If you can avoid it, don’t live in the ghetto. The conditions there are deplorable and sanitation services are non-existent.

It is also safe to travel to Kenya. The national carrier – Kenya Airways is pretty efficient and there are good international airports.

Conclusion: Bad things about Kenya

There are hundreds of terrible things about Kenya. These are just the most outstanding! Can you think of any? Let me know in the comments section.

So, is Kenya Safe for tourists and is it worth visiting? Damn right it is! However, stay alert to your surroundings, don’t trust anyone easily. Actually, everyone is trying to swindle you out of something. Except me!

There are great places to see in Nanyuki, the coast, the Rift Valley and many more. Also, this is the home of the big five beasts of the land, so you can take a trip to the Masai Mara and see a lion in his natural habitat.

If hiking is your thing, there is the thrilling, and challenging Mt. Longonot, a dormant volcano in the Rift Valley. There is also Mt. Kenya.

For every bad thing about Kenya, there are about three great things. So, good wins over bad. Please come and see for yourself.

Stay on the lookout for my next article on good things about Kenya.

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