Cultural practices of Kenya

Cultural nuances in Kenya

Although the official languages are Swahili and English, Kenya is a multilingual country. There are 62 languages spoken throughout which mainly consist of tribal African languages as well as a minority of Middle-Eastern and Asian languages spoken by descendants of foreign settlers (i.e. Arabic, Hindi, etc). The African languages come from three different language families - Bantu languages (spoken in the center and southeast), Nilotic languages (in the west), and Cushitic languages (in the northeast).

The Kenyan people are regarded as welcomong and friendly to tourists, credit: AFAR Media

Kenya is not a homogeneous country ethnicity wise. The make-up of Kenyans is primarily that of 13 ethnic groups with an additional 27 smaller groups. The majority of Kenyans belong to ‘Bantu’ tribes such as the Kikuyu, Luhya and Kamba. There are also the ‘Nilotic’ tribes such as the Luo, Kalenjin, Maasai and Turkana. The ‘Hamitic’ people include the Turkana, Rendille and Samburu. Around 13% of the population are of non-African descent, i.e. Indian, Arab and European.

The Maasai's unique way of life and colourful dress code which has stood the test of time, credit: Pulselive.co.ke

Kenyans are group-orientated rather than individualistic. “Harambee,” (coming from the Bantu word meaning “to pull together”) defines the people’s approach to others in life. The concept is essentially about mutual assistance, mutual effort, mutual responsibility and community self-reliance.


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