Kenyan Culture

Unique tribes

Kenya is a country with diverse cultures and traditions that are all independently practiced by about 42 different ethnic groups. These 42 tribes belong to three main language groups where every group consists of tribes that have a common origin. The groups include: the Bantu speaking group which consists of the Agikuyu, Ameru, Abagusi, Abalughya, Mijikenda and Taita , the Nilote speaking which consists of the Maasai,Samburu,Teso,Turkana,Kalenjin,Dholuo and the third group are Cushite speaking which consists of the Rendille, Somali,Boran ,Gabbra and Orma.

culture-1The Kenyan cultural formation has had contributions from some of the outstanding cultural practices among the 42 different ethnic groups. Some have put Kenya on the global map with regard to culture.

The Maasai, one of the Nilote Speaking tribes, is the most outstanding tribe in Kenya and is recognized abroad for its long preserved culture that attracts tourists from many corners of the World. Even though they are a small percentage (0.7%) of the Kenyan population, their traditional attire which consists of beautiful dark red garments and beads is popular even with other tribes and known by tourists as a symbol of the Kenyan culture.

Divergent cuisines

Different tribes subsist on different food types. Food rich in grains is popular among the Bantu speaking group because conditions in their region are favorable for the growing grains. Fish forms a big part of the diet for Dholuo community and the coastal people because of their close proximity to Lakes Victoria and Indian Ocean respectively. The Cushites and some Nilotes have been animal herders since time immemorial; their diets are rich in animal products.

Music

Music has always been part of the Kenyan culture. Traditional events such as bull fights or wrestling practiced by the Luhya are usually kenyan-culture-2accompanied with tumultuous song and dance. The Maasai who have maintained their traditions to date can still be heard praying and singing before the onset of the rains. Recital of poems and narration of ancient tales is still a feature in schools and theatres. In addition, Kenya’s music has helped in spreading its culture across its boarders. malaika (angel) is one of the classics that earned Kenya international recognition.

Trade

kenyan-culture-4Through trade, the Kenyan culture is clearly visible with different ethnic groups involved in different types of trade. The Central region is still predominantly involved in agriculture –both food crops and cash crop farming. Some of the cash crops grown in this region such as coffee and tea are major exports. Communities in the rift valley and the western regions are known for their tea, rice and wheat plantations.  Livestock products including milk and meat are also a common feature.

Livestock trading is a preserve of the communities living in the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya.

National symbols

Culture in Kenya is also promoted through the country’s National Museums and Archives where literature materials, ornaments and various artifacts belonging to different communities are exhibited.

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