Languages in Kenya
More than 60 different languages are indigenous to Kenya. The official languages are English, which is widely spoken to a high standard in the tourist industry, and KiSwahili. This East African lingua franca originates from the coast and spread inland along trade routes in the early 19th century.
Other major languages include Kikuyu, Luo, Akamba, and Maa. Most languages spoken locally belong to two broad languages: Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan, spoken by the country’s Bantu and Nilotic populations, respectively. The Cushitic and Arab ethnic minorities speak languages belonging to the separate Afroasiatic family, with the Hindustani and British residents speaking languages from the Indo-European family.
Kenya’s various ethnic groups speak their mother tongues within their communities. The two official languages are used with varying degrees of fluency for communication with other populations.
English is widely spoken in commerce, schooling, and government. Peri-urban and rural dwellers are less multilingual, with many in rural areas speaking only their native languages.