All around Nairobi, there are streets named for prominent personalities from other African countries. But like Kenya's own role in the leadership of black Africa, the names are mostly echoes of the past - Haile Selassie, William Tubman, Kwame Nkrumah.

In their day, Kenya was an influential force in Africa, but it is no longer. In the last years of Jomo Kenyatta's presidency, Kenya's voice in African affairs dwindled to a whisper as he lost interest in matters beyond this country's borders and Kenya's few efforts at exerting external influence failed.

The collapse of Kenyatta's effort to mediate among the factions in Angola, the breakup of the East African community that joined Kenya with Uganda and Tanzania, and the Marxist revolution in Ethiopia left Kenya isolated as a pro-Western, commerce-minded nation pursuing its own interests, insulated from the conflicts buffeting the rest of the continent.

Kenyatta's death last week, Kenyan and foreign observers here agree, will probably do little to change that.

Interim President Daniel arap Moi, supported by most of the other potential contenders for the presidency, has already pledged to keep the country on the course set by Kenyatta and by all accounts that is the way most Kenyans like it.

The leading exception is foreign Minister Munyua Waiyaki a determined foe of South Africa's racial policies, who has publicly blasted other Cabinet ministers for proposing a dialogue with Pretoria. Waiyaki talks proudly of Kenya's modest support for the black nationalists in Rhodesia, but admits he can do little beyond this without the support of the rest of the Cabinet and of the only political party, which seems little inclined to any substantial involvement in external affairs.

The president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, said in a statement on Kenyatta's death that in his later years the Kenyan leader had become "parochial" in outlook. Kenyans argue that it was not parochialism, it was practical politics.

"There's no constituency here for foreign affairs, nothing to galvanize the public," a well-informed Kenyan said, "The issues are here at home and anything outside would be seen as a red herring. The public is apathetic even about southern Africa - what they want is jobs, land and food."

Since neither Moi nor any of the other possible successors has Kenyatta's credentials as an African nationalist and fighter against colonialism, it is unlikely that they could effectively exert more influence on African affairs even if they were so inclined, diplomatic analyst here say.

This is all the more true, they believe, because Kenya, capitalistic country hospitable to foreign investment, is out of step with the socialist governments of many of the other African states.

Nor does Kenya, despite a population approaching 15 million, have the military force to exert any pressure beyong its own frontiers. Its modest army, smaller and less well-equipped than those of Ethiopia or Somalia, is only beginning a program of expansion and modernization, and its primary task is defending Kenya against Somalia territorial claims. Moi has said that Kenya should not be dragged into an arms race.