History of Communication in Kenya

In early times in Africa before colonization communication was not easy. To be specific Kenya used to communicate in various ways and each had different meanings.  Some of the ways that they used to communicate are;

    • Through smoke, which was an emergency call. In traditional times when people were attacked by robbers or other tribes, they would send one person to go on top of a mountain and light the fire so that when other people from far communities see the smoke, they  would come and help them (1). 

    • Through drumming which was a call of celebration. Most ceremonies would take place if a child was born or during circumcision. If they wanted to call for a celebration they would take many drums and start drumming them loudly so that people in the neighbouring community could come and join them (1).

  • Through messengers, which were not always successful. People would send messengers to deliver a message that was not possible to be derived either through smoke or other means of communication. The message was sometimes not delivered because there were many wild animals and robbers (1).

Post office:
The post office was opened in Kenya in 1897 (2). People could send letters, telegrams and there were telephones where people could make calls. Letters were quite slow and most people did not get direct delivery. Telegrams were very expensive since each and every word that was written cost money. If someone wanted to call, one had to walk up to the post office which was kilometers away for some people.(3)

Cell Phones:
Cell Phones were introduced in 1999 but they were very expensive to buy at the beginning (4). The aim of the cell phones was just to communicate and send SMS messages. As the price of the phones came down, they were still quite expensive because people had to pay per minute to talk or per word to send an SMS.  

This was one of the first cell phones in Kenya that used solar in order to work.

Smartphones were later introduced. Smartphones made communication easier because of their access to the internet. The phones themselves are quite expensive and the data can be as well, but there are more communication options through online apps like ‘Whatsapp’. 

Most people in Kenya now have either a cell phone or a smartphone.

4 Replies to “History of Communication in Kenya”

  1. Hello Dennis,

    I like your question a lot! It’s interesting to see how different communication has progressed throughout the years. I think it could be helpful if you include your question at the start of each post so people automatically know what you are researching communication for. This would definitely help you identify if phones are beneficial or not. You can see how some methods didn’t work so well or how they did work and compare them to the pro’s and con’s of modern communication (cell phones). I can totally see that smoke and drums being used as communication now would not work. Maybe if cellphones are the best option for us now, you could research what would lessen their disadvantages. I’m interested in what you are going to do next!

    Here are some articles to help.




    Good luck!

    -Shieva Mokhtarnameh

  2. Hello Dennis I like your post since you have started expressing yourself on communication in the past.Many of us did not know more about the communication in the past but following your post at least we have now a clue.I’m waiting for your next post.All the best and keep safe.

  3. Hello Denis,
    Very intriguing topic! I knew that electronic devices were a struggle back in the days, but I certainly didn’t know there were other resources that was used to send messages.

    Do you have access to a cellphone or a smartphone?

    -Lokshana 🙂

  4. Hi Denis! I really enjoyed reading your post and I found it very intriguing. It was interesting learning about how the tribal people in Kenya used to communicate, especially the smoke signals; I found that quite ingenious! It was also interesting to learn about how truly dangerous it was for messengers every time they went out to deliver information, as nowadays the circulation of physical messages is much safer. On top of this, I really liked reading about the first phones in Kenya as I had never heard of solar powered cellphones before. I cannot wait to read your next post!

    P.S. Could you possibly put a reference list in your next post? It help a ton for people that want to read more into the topic.

    Some resources that might help you are:




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