People & Culture
Cooking & Recipes |
Art & Craft
Currently there are
more than 40 different ethnic group in Kenya.
The main groups of tribes
are the Bantu who migrated from western Africa, the Nilotic people who
originated from Sudan and the Hamitic group, who were mainly pastoral tribes
from Ethiopia and Somalia. The main tribes are Kikuyu (21%), Meru (5%),
Kalenjin, Luyha, Luo (14%), Kisii, Kamba, Swahili, Masai, Turkana
other large ethnic groups include the Luo, Luhya, Kamba and Kalenjin- There are
also some groups of people who form a very small population. This includes the
tribe of El Molo.
The Kikuyu are Bantu and
actually came into Kenya during the Bantu migration. They include some families
from all the surrounding people and can be identified with the Kamba, the Meru,
the Embu and the Chuka. The Kikuyu tribe was originally founded by a man named
Gikuyu. Kikuyu history says that the Kikuyu God, Ngai, took Gikuyu to the top
of Kirinyaga and told him to stay and build his home there. He was also given
his wife, Mumbi. Together, Mumbi and Gikuyu had nine daughters. There was
actually a tenth daughter but the Kikuyu considered it to be bad luck to say
the number ten. When counting they used to say full nine instead of
ten. It was from the nine daughters that the nine (occaisionally a tenth)
Kikuyu clans -Achera, Agachiku, Airimu, Ambui, Angare, Anjiru, Angui, Aithaga,
and Aitherandu- were formed.
Traditionally the Kikuyu are farmers. The
Kikuyu homelands, in the foothills of Mount Kenya, are still some of the most
intensively farmed areas of the country.
Kikuyu People - more
Kenya Jomo Kenyatta provides a detailed insider
description of the Kikuyu peoples of Kenya. The book takes a structural
functionalist approach to anthropology, providing a very detailed description
covering virtually all aspects of tribal life. A native Gikuyu,son of a
medicine man, Kenyatta reveals his wonderful anthropological ability in a
storybook fashion. A must read for anyone interested in learning about African
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Found mainly in Southern Kenya, the Massai
believed that their rain God Ngai granted all cattle to them for safe keeping
when the earth and sky split. Since cattle was given to the Massai, they
believe its okay to steal from other tribes. The Massai worship cattle because
it is their main source of economic survival as opposed to education.
Many Massai believed that education is not important for the herdsman
to search for green grass to feed the cows. The Massai have not strayed from
the traditional basic ways of life. Farming for the trading of crops such as
corn and vegetable is done by some Massai. But the rejecting the cash economy
and refusing to settle or become farmers has made life difficult and harsh.
The Massai prefer to remain nomadic herdsmen, moving as their needs
necessitate. This is becoming more difficult in modern times as their open
plain disappear. In the drier regions of the north, the Maasai subsists on a
diet of cow's blood and milk, which they mix together and drink.
Maasai Tribe - more info...
|| The Worlds of
a Maasai Warrior : An Autobiography It gives the picture
of a boy growing up as a real Maasai and the new life in civilized world of
Germany and USA - a man between two cultures and the difficult question to
decide which way to go along. Makes yourself wondering about the way we Western
people are living and gives a chance to see our world with other
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The Samburu are related to the Masai although they live
just above the equator where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into the
northern desert. They are semi-nomadic pastoralists whose lives revolve around
their cows, sheep, goats, and camels. Milk is their main stay; sometimes it is
mixed with blood. Meat is only eaten on special occasions. Generally they make
soups from roots and barks and eat vegetables if living in an area where they
can be grown.
Most dress in very traditional clothing of bright red
material used like a skirt and multi-beaded necklaces, bracelets and earrings,
especially when living away from the big cities.
--> click for more information
Warriors : The Samburu An intimate, sometimes striking photo-essay
detailing the folkways of the Samburu, a warrior-based society of northern
Kenya. The author lived among the Samburu for six years, recording the daily
rhythms and significant ceremonies of this traditional culture, whose members
depend on herds of cattle, goats, and camels for their survival.
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The Turkana are the second largest group of
nomadic pastoralists in Kenya who live in nothern Kenya - numbering over
200,000 they occupy a rectangular area bordered by Lake Turkana in northern
Kenya and Ethiopia on the east, Uganda on the west, Sudan on the north
Traditional dress and ornaments is of vital importance, much emphasis
being placed on adornment of both women and young Moranis (warriors) . Their
neck is hidden by brightly colored beads, any object, even the most simple and
ordinary in western eye is greatly sought after as an ornament to increase
|| Turkana :
Kenya's Nomads of the Jade Sea
After traveling and living among
the Turkana of northwestern Kenya over the course of more than 40 years, Nigel
Pavitt now presents a book which describes and pictures their daily battle to
keep their traditional ways alive. 226 color illustrations.
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to Kenya National Anthem
Words of the
Kenya National Anthem
The Kenyan official national language is
English, and it is wide spoken. There also another national language,
Kiswahili. Both Languanges are taught throughout the country.
extremely useful for the traveller to have a working knowledge of Swahili,
especially outside the urban areas and in remote parts of the country.
Yourself (Book and Cassette)) Buy from USA Buy from Europe
Russell has created a practical course in spoken and written Swahili that is
both fun and easy to work through. Based on the Council of Europe's Threshold
guidelines on language learning, the course contains 18 graded units of
dialogues, culture notes, grammar, and exercises; pronunciation guide; and
Swahili-English and English-Swahili vocabularies.
Swahili Online Dictionary
Swahili is the most widely spoken African language, with 50 million
speakers in East Africa and Central Africa, particularly in Tanzania (including
Zanzibar) and Kenya. The new 56,000-entry lexicon is now available online!
There are many other tribal languages. These include Kikuyu, Luhia, Luo
and Kikamba as well as a plethora of minor tribal tongues.
modern language spoken amonst the younger members of society is Sheng. This is
a mixture of Swahili and English along with a words of other languages.
A large proportion of the Kenyan
population are Christians found mainly outside the coastal and eastern
provinces. Muslims make up some 30% of the population found in the coastal
areas and in the eastern side of the country - the rest is a combination of
other minority religions such as Hindus, Bhuduist and those who follow their
ancestral tribal beliefs
COOKING & RECIPES
Staple foods include;
Ugali, rice, bread, chapati (fried paste of wheat powder) Meat: Beef, chicken,
goat, etc. Fish: Tilapia (a freshwater fish) and other fish Vegetables
How a Dinner is Served in
Ugali - Cornmeal Porridge -
The national dish of Kenya
Sukuma Wiki - Collard
Steak and Irio
Pilau rice with beef
Kuku na Nazi (Chicken with
Maharagwe (Spiced red beans in
Mtuza wa Samaki (Baked curried
Plantains in Coconut
More recipes from Kenya
Popular music in Kenya encompasses a wide
range of styles of both local and international origin. Among Kenyans, language
is one of the crucial factors in defining their music.
Instruments used for
traditional must include the African Sistrum Great which is used for rituals or
a fun rhythm instrument, creates an excellent sound two are used at the same at
a time. A variety of rattles and shakers, small harps, the Wandidi a Kikuyu
fiddle and traditional drums.
ART & CRAFT
Most art and craft production is for
the lucrative tourist market.
Items produced for the tourist market
include sisal baskets, elephant hair (not real elephant hair) bracelets, Maasai
bead jewelry, musical instruments, and silver and gold jewelry, soapstone
sculptures, wooden carvings, tribal masks and Maasai figurines. paintings,
prints and sculptures, batik cloth, and kangaswomens wraparound
skirts with beautiful patterns, and often Kenyan proverbs printed on them and
kikois - type of sarong for men that comes in many different colors and
There are arts and craft markets and shops throughout the
main tourist centres - each with a great diversity of items offered and quality