Kenya is a country found in Eastern Africa, comprising of forty-two ethnic groups each with its unique dialect. Any tourist who’s gotten the chance to visit Kenya will easily recall the Maasai and the Samburu community. These two communities have become a favourite among tourists because of their outstanding and authentic culture.
The Samburu and Maasai have been able to cling on to their culture over the years despite modern influences and technology. From their dress code to their renowned politeness, the Maasai are an epitome of culture.
The forty-two tribes of Kenya are split into three groups namely; Bantu, Cushite and Nilotic tribes. All these groups are believed to have originated from different parts of Africa and settled in Kenya before colonization. The migration of the group sis known as the Great Migration.
Also Read : A Guide And Discovery To the Kenyan Cookery
Beliefs and Culture
The Kenyan cultures believed in ancestral spirits, gods and deities. Rainmakers and witch doctors were considered to have a close connection to the gods. Most communities offered libations and sacrifices to the ancestors to please them. This is because most Kenyan communities believed that they were able to influence events, seasons, death and life.
Communities, especially in the central region, believed that their gods were found on top of the famous Mount Kenya. Hence they would worship facing the mountain. Today, some of the beliefs are still being upheld,for example, most Kenyans still believe in the sacred fig tree.
Circumcision in the Luhyia community is still done in the ancient crude way.The young men are taken to the river early in the morning covered in ashes before the circumcision ceremony is performed.
Female genital mutilation which was one of the traditions in Kenya is still being performed by communities such as the Maasai and the Turkana even after abolishment .
The communities believe that it is an essential rite of passage hence they force it to some of the women. Fortunately, the Kenyan government has launched programs to salvage the girl child in such communities.
Arts and craft
The most common souvenirs tourists buy in Kenya are ornaments and crafts made by the locals. The designs of the ornaments are usually based on the traditional wears of the different Kenyan communities.
Some of the ornaments include face masks, wood carvings, braided necklaces and leg bracelets. They are made from locally available materials for example wood. You can get some of these souvenirs in Nairobi museum.
Fashion and Mode of dressing
Kenyan communities have different traditional wears,but only the Maasai have upheld their traditional clothes. Attempts have been made to incorporate the traditional wear into modern fashion in the country over the years. Most of the top-notch designers showcase their work even in international events.
Literature and theatre
Some of the authors have been able to preserve the Kenyan culture in books, for example, Facing Mountain Kenya by Jomo Kenyatta (the first President of Kenya). Moreover, the Kenyan ministry of education in attempts to preserve the cultural heritage holds an annual drama festival across the country which exposes the audience to the Kenyan cultures. Through the songs, dances and scripts performed, the state can hold on to its cultural roots.
The Swahili language is the most commonly spoken language in Kenya. It was coined through trade of Kenyans with the Arabs along the coast. Swahili is a dialect that has phrases from the Arabic language and some of the Kenyan words in the modern day.
Swahili has evolved and is now considered as one of the national languages in Kenya alongside English. Some of the common Swahili words you’ll hear in the country include ‘Jambo’ which is a gesture used to say hello.