In geography and economics classes, students from all over the world are often exposed to the concepts and dynamics of developed and developing countries, particularly in terms of their socioeconomic and political endowments, governance structures, technological standing, as well as human capital development index. In the class discussions, developed countries are often illuminated in terms of their massive wealth and stability, while developing countries are contextualized in terms of biting poverty, entrenched corruption and instability (World Bank, n.d.). To contextualize this important topic further, the present paper attempts to describe the similarities and differences between Kenya and the United States.
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Description of Similarities and Differences
It may appear difficult or even irrelevant to compare and contrast two countries that appear to be at the opposing ends of the continuum as far as socioeconomic, political, technological and governance issues are concerned. However, there are a lot of similarities and differences between Kenya and the United States that appear to have escaped mention in the popular media and scholarly discourse. For example, Kenya and the United States can be described as extremely open societies when it comes to ensuring various freedoms as enshrined in their respective constitutions. Although Kenyans may be considered as third world citizens, they have a fundamental right to sue for violation of their constitutionally entrenched rights in the same way as Americans. Consequently, institutions such as the media and churches have blossomed in both countries, as citizens are assured of their rights and freedoms to free press, association and worship. However, unlike the American government which safeguards these fundamental rights and freedoms, the Kenyan government has been known to curtail the same, particularly in instances where those in power feel insecure or threatened (Blanchard, 2013).
Another similarity that has gone largely unnoticed is that Kenya and the United States value the family as the basic social unit of the society, implying that individuals in both countries are considered to be of a higher social status if they have a family. People in both countries are known to rely on their respective families for warmth, security and love; however, it is important to note that the Kenyan family is quite large compared to an American family. Another difference arising from the family unit revolves around the fact that, unlike in America where families appear loosely incorporated due to the demise of the extended family setup, most families in Kenya are closely-knit and still incorporate the extended family in all their plans and endeavors.
Moving on, it is evident that both countries have elaborate strategies to develop their human resources capacity and entrench a sustainable work culture with the view to developing their respective economies. Indeed, there are striking similarities between the two countries in terms of availability of highly trained human resources and adoption of bureaucratic structures in the running of public offices. Additionally, in both countries, most companies in the private sector are built around capitalistic orientations which are to a large extent concerned with individualistic interests rather than communal endeavors (Blanchard, 2013). A major difference, though, is that the capitalistic orientations have led to more social and economic inequities in Kenya than in the United States. Another major difference is that, while bureaucratic structures in America’s public sector organizations have led to enhanced efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity, the same structures have led to great inefficiency and corruption in Kenya. This orientation perhaps explains why the United States has been able to achieve sustained socioeconomic development, while Kenya is struggling with issues of economic underdevelopment and poverty in spite of having one of best human resources capital in Africa.
Lastly, in political and governance, it is important to note that Kenya and the United States have put in place democratic structures that provide their citizens with a say on how the countries are run through popular representation. Both countries utilize a presidential system of government and hold routine elections to elect representatives to parliament and other constitutional institutions (Blanchard, 2013). Interestingly, Barrack Obama, the current president of the United States, has a special relationship with Kenya by virtue of the fact that his biological father was born and raised in Kenya before he migrated to America for further studies. However, despite similar governance structures, there are marked differences with regard to maturity of democracy and the role played by constitutionally-established institutions in entrenching democracy in the two countries. For example, while democracy in the United States has matured greatly due to the many years of practice, the same cannot be said of Kenya because of some authoritative elements that still persist in government. Similarly, while American institutions such as the Senate has immense power to ensure that the country is run in a democratic and equitable manner, Kenya’s political and governance institutions are only beginning to emerge and hence do not have much influence in the current political dispensation (Blanchard, 2013).
The present paper has described the similarities and differences that exist between the United States and Kenya in the four domains of protection of rights and freedoms, family, human resources capacity and work culture, as well as politics and governance. From the discussion, it is concluded that the two countries share many similarities which have not been captured well in the current literature. However, they also have a multiplicity of differences as evidently demonstrated in this paper.
Blanchard, L.P. (2013). U.S.-Kenya relations: Current political and security issues. Web.
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World Bank. (n.d.). Comparing levels of development. Web.