History of immigration from Kenya

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Map of Kenya
Map date: 2013
In the late 19th century Kenya was known as British East Africa, and was first recorded in the Victorian census in 1901, when one Kenya-born male was resident in Victoria. Kenyans were not recorded in Victoria again until 1981. During that time Kenya had seen remarkable political change, with the transition to independence from Britain starting in the 1950s and the first direct elections of Africans to the Kenyan Legislative Council in 1957.

From the 527 residents recorded in 1981, the Kenyan population in Victoria grew steadily. In 1986, 664 called Victoria home, with the number growing to 715 by 1991 and 847 by 1996. The 2001 census saw a 32% increase in the population to 1117 residents.

By 2011, the population had grown a further 155% to 2851. The majority of Kenya-born Victorians today are Christian, 20% are Catholic and 15% are Anglican. Islam is practised by 14%, while 10% are Hindu. A large proportion of the population is very young: roughly one quarter of the population is aged between five and 14 years old.

Kenya has a number of ethnic groups, including Kikuyu, Embu, Luo and Masai and Swahili, and 62 languages are spoken. Several of these are represented in the range of languages spoken by Kenyans living in Victoria. English is spoken by 35% of Kenya-born Victorians, while 26% speak Swahili. The next most common languages are Dinka, Somali and Gujarati.

Of those employed, 52% are engaged in managerial, professional and associated roles, of which the largest professions are accounting and computing. Nearly one quarter are intermediate clerical, sales and service workers, of which almost half are special and personal care workers. Labourers make up 3% of the population, while 2% have a trade.

The community is supported by the SBS African language program and the African Communities Council of Victoria. The community celebrates Jamhuri Day, Kenyan Independence, in December.

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