PEOPLE AND CULTURES.
Kenya has a rich variety of tribes and cultures, with over 70 tribal groups. Traditions are expressed in the way of life like the ceremonial attires, dances, Arts, songs and rhythms and ways of life. The majority of Kenya’s cultures fall under the Bantu with tribes like the Kikuyu, Gusii, Akamba, Meru, Luyha and Embu, and Nilotics groups include the Masaai, Samburu, Turkana, Luo, Kalenjin, and Pokot. The Nilotic group covers about 90% of the total African population in Kenya. The different cultures include:
The Masaai are nomadic herdsmen, found in Southern Kenya. According to tradition, the Masaai believed that their God granted them cattle, and therefore they believe its okay to steal cattle from other tribes. Maasai economy is centered around Cattle, and they are accumulated as a sign of wealth. Their main diet is cow's milk and blood which is mixed together. Some Masaai are farmers, who trade crops like vegetable and corn. The Maasai are best known for their beautiful ornamentation and beadwork of their bodies.
The Akamba are Bantu-speaking people, who migrated from the south about 200 years to live in the east of Nairobi towards Tsavo national park. They are renowned for their fighting ability, they continue to be well represented in the Kenyan defense forces and security organizations to date.
The Kikuyu people are Bantu who base their organization on the family unit (number). The Kikuyu tribe was originally founded by a man named Gikuyu. This is Kenya’s largest tribe and it includes families identified with the Meru, the Kamba, the Embu and the Chuka. These entered Kenya during the Bantu migration. Kikuyu are farmers at the the foothills of Mount Kenya, with the most intensively farmed areas of the country. They are heavily agricultural, growing sugarcane, bananas, yams, arum lily, maize, beans, millet, black beans and a variety of vegetables. They also raise cattle which provide hides for sandals, bedding, and carrying straps. Sheep and goats are used for religious sacrifices and purification.
According to tradition, the Kikuyu clans -Achera, Agachiku, Airimu, Ambui, Angare, Anjiru, Angui, Aithaga, and Aitherandu- were formed from the nine daughters of Gikuyu and Mumbi.
The Turkana people live around Lake Turkana in northern Kenya. These are about 200,000 in number, becoming the second largest group of nomadic pastoralists in Kenya.
The Moranis (warriors) and women both wear traditional dress and ornaments in order to increase their charm.
The Cushitic-speaking people are one of the Kenya’s smallest tribes numbering less than 4000 people. These are fishermen who live on the south western part of lake Turkana on two islands, and have close ties with the Pastoralists like the Samburu. Their main diet is fish. They also eat birds, crocodile, Turtles and Hippopotamus.
The Samburu who live the foothills of Mount Kenya are semi-nomadic pastoralists. These dress in traditional clothing usually made of bright colours, multi-beaded necklaces, earrings and bracelets. The Samburu people are related to the Masaai, and milk is their main food which they also sometimes mix with Blood like the Masaai. The also make soup from Vegetables.
“Kalenjin” refers to a group of small tribes including Nandi, Tugen, Pokot, Marakwet and Kipsigi, which speak the Nandi tribe in different dialects. This is one of Kenya’s largest groups, living on the western edge of the Rift Valley. The Area includes Baringo, Eldoret, Kericho, Areas surrounding Mt.Elgon and Kitale.
The different cultures have the same lifestyles and cultures. These people who are farmers to date where originally pastoralists. The Kalemjin practice circumcision, which is done to initiate boys to manhood.THE LUO
These are the country’s third largest group, making up 12% of the population of Kenya. They live around the showers of Lake Victoria and they are the county’s most powerful political groups. The group formerly pastoralist, have adopted farming and fishing.
The group unlike other tribes does not practice circumcision, however at initiation four to six teeth are removed and the people live in family groups ion enclosed fences.
The Luhya are Bantu people, and these form the second largest ethnic group of Kenya, living in the most densely populated area, with about 4.6 million people. The Luhya reffers to both the people and the Luhya languages, and the group has about 16 sub-tribes in Kenya, One in northern Uganda and four in Uganda. The dominant groups in Kenya include the Abanyore, Isukha, Abakhayo, Abanyala in both Busia and Kakamega, Abamarachi, Abatsosto, Abasamia, Tiriki, Wanga, Marama, Idakho, Maragoli, Kisa, Abatachoni and Bukusu.
The Luhya are agriculturalists who grow a range of crops like cassava, Tea, Maize, Wheat, Rice and Sugarcane. The Bukusu and the Wanga are mainly cash crop farmers and the Saamia are mainly fishermen and traders.
Polygamy is allowed traditionally in the luyha culture and was the norm. culture revolves around the extended family and traditional marriage was practiced traditionally.
The Pokot (Suk) people who speak the Pokot language (a Kalenjin language), are found in Baringo districts and West Pokot in Kenya. Another group lives in Eastern Karamoja in Uganda.
Pokot art is associated with body ornamentation, which includes beadwork, intricate coiffures and wigs that are worn by young men. This is a signal of their membership in a given age-grade.
The pokot are divided into two groups which include the Hill Pökot who are both farmers and pastoralists, and live in the rainy highlands in the west and in the central south. The second group is made up of the Plains Pokot who live in the dry and infertile plains, and their occupation is herding cows, goats and sheep.
West Pokot people still practice FGM or girls circumcision »»» read more of this stories.
Among the Pokot, Tororot is considered the supreme deity. Prayers and offerings are made to him during communal gatherings, including feasts and dances.
THE GUSII THE MERU THE EMBU
Nairobi cultural institute
ICEA building, Kenyatta Ave
American cultural center.
Barclays Plaza, 3rd floor, Loita
Japan African culture interchange institute
ICEA building, Kenyatta Ave
Maendeleo House, Corner Monrovia and Loita streets.
Kenya has a variety of Arts including Musical Instruments, Jewellery, Wooden carvings, Misc Items and Soapstone carvings-also known as Kissi stone. These are made by Kenyan Artisans and are sold in local craft shops located all-over Kenya.
Kenya has a variety of Arts and Music. This includes Lingala, Kenyan Bands, hip-hop, Benda, a contemporary dance Music, Jazz, classic benga gems, Rap, new taarab, R&B and upbeat dance tunes.Artistes include Nameless, Deux Vultures, Ogopa Djs, Redsan, Amani, and many more, which perform in Kenya as well as the neighbouring countries. Arts are exhibited in several galleries around Kenya, and in theaters. Music and art in Kenya have attracted international recognition through awards like Kisima awards, and they continue to grow.