Top 7 Tribes to visit in Kenya
Top 7 Tribes to visit in Kenya: Kenya is a hotspot for culture and a very rewarding destination to visit for a mind-blowing cultural safari, Kenya is culturally and ethnically diverse with about 42 ethnic groups each with their unique cultures, traditions and norms. Kenya’s community is divided into 3 linguistic groups/communities that are the Nilotic making 30%, Bantus making 67% and Cushitic speaks. Other people forming the population of Kenya include Asians, Europeans and Kenyan Arabs.
Among the ethnic groups in Kenya, the Bantu group is the largest ethnic group comprising of the Kikuyu, Akamba, Luhya, Kisii, Meru and Mijikenda tribes, the Bantu people predominately depend on farming of both staple and cash crops such as coffee and tea for food and selling for cash.
The Nilotic is another ethnic group in Kenya consisting of the Maasai, Luo, Turkana, Samburu and Kalenjin tribes, the Nilotic people are generally worriors and hunters and visiting them will make your Kenya culture safari an amazing experience.
Kikuyu is one of the most popular tribes in Kenya and the largest tribes in Kenya forming 22% of Kenya population, the Kikuyu people inhabit mostly in the central region of Kenya. The Kikuyu belong to the Bantu ethnic group and are well known for being large scale farmers growing cash crops such as tea and coffee, the Kikuyu people believe and worship a deity named Ngai who is believed to reside in Mount Kenya.
The Kikuyu tribe belongs to the northeastern Bantu branch and they reside in the areas of Mount Kenya, the kikuyu speak Gigikuyu language which is closely related to that of the Embu and Mbeere. They also speak Kiswahili and English.
Socially, the Kikuyu men have an overall power in the community over women and culturally they are allowed to marry more than one woman as long as they can meet their needs. Culturally the Kikuyu people, value the practice of paying bride price, the kikuyu people spread across urban areas of Kenya and they have retained their culture and traditions regardless.
The Luhya are the second largest tribe in Kenya making up to 14% of Kenya’s population , the Luhya are also known as Abaluyia or Luyia. The Luyia tribe is a group of 19 distinct Bantu tribes and their respective languages are collectively known as Luhya languages, some of the tribes making up the Luhya tribe include Bukusu, Idakho, Isukha, Kabras, Khayo, Kisa, Marachi, Maragoli, Marama, Nyala, Nyole, Samia, Tachoni, Wanga and Batura.
The Luhya people reside in the western region of Kenya which is fertile, these people religiously believe in traditional god “Nyasaye” or Were Khakaba. Male circumcision is one of the important practices in the Luhya tribes as a way of initiating boys to adulthood, this ceremony is very entertaining to engage in while on a Kenya cultural safari. Another fascinating aspect about the Luhya is the bull-fighting and the Ugali a popular traditional
The Kisii tribe is the 7th largest tribe in Kenya making up 6% of Kenya’s population, the Kisii are also known as the Abagusi, Mkisii, Gusi or Wakisii in Swahili. The Kisii are East African ethnic group originating from the pre-Bantu Agropastoralist inhabiting the former Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces of Kenya.
Kisii people live in very large and close families sharing most of their day to day activities such as cooking and farming, as per social and marriage setting, men hold more authority than women and they are allowed to have more than one wife. Kisii tribe used to carry out female circumcision until the practice by outlawed by the government of Kenya though it is still practiced in some parts, however male circumcision is still practiced as a way of initiating boys into adulthood.
Kisii people generally carryout farming, they grow banana “matoke” on large scale, the Kisii religiously believe in the supreme god “Engoro” and other ancestral sprits. The Kisii people are culturally known for soapstone carving, basketry and pottery.
Mijikenda is a group of 9 sub-tribes belonging to the Bantu tribe inhabiting on the coast of Kenya between the Sabaki and the Umba rivers, Mijikenda’s sub tribes include Giriana, Digo, Chonyi, Duruma, Jibana, Kambe, Kauma, Rabai, and Ribe sub-tribes.
In Kenya, the Mijikenda tribe is about 1,960,574 million people residing in the coastal region of Kenya, the Mijikenda tribe’s culture revolves around clans and age-sets. The Mijikenda tribe is considered as one of the most significant tribes in Kenya responsible for giving birth to the Swahili culture
Clans in the Mijikenda tribe comprise of several families sharing a patriarchal ancestor and each clan has its own sacred place called Kaya, the Kaya is a shared space for conducting religious rituals such as prayers, sacrifices among others. The Mijikenda people are considered to be some of the best cooks in Kenya most especially the Digos, the stable food of the Mijikenda tribe is wali a dish prepared with rice and coconut. Other Mijikenda dishes include fish and other sea food and it I practically referred to as Mijikenda cuisine.
The Maasai tribe is the most popular tribe in Kenya worldly famous for their unique culture and history, the Maasai belong to the Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting in the northern, central and southern regions of Kenya. The Maasai inhabit near most of Kenya’s protected areas (national parks and reserves) such as Maasai Mara national reserve, because of their residence they are easily visited during your Kenya safari.
The Maasai tribe is relatively small in size estimated to be around 841,622 people in Kenya, these people are part of the Nilotic language family speaking Maa language. The Maasai people are famously known for unique culture, dressing in red-striped Shukas adorned with beautiful locally made ornaments such as colorful necklaces, traditional regalia and the bomas.
The Maasai are semi-nomadic people depending live stock rearing and culturally the more cattle a Maasai has, the richer he is considered, the Maasai people religiously believe in their suoreme god “Enkai”. The Maasai people live in large communities “hub” consisting of ten to 13 tiny circular thatched huts referred to as bomas, these huts are enclosed by a fence or bushes with sharp thorns locally known as Enkang.
The Maasai People are famously known height and being warriors, the Maasai Men go through a critical ritual referred to as “Moran” which is a passage for Maasai men who live for a certain period in isolation learning tribal customs and developing courage and endurance to become worriers.
The Luo tribe and its people are one of the largest tribes in Kenya making up to 13% of the total population of Kenya, the Luo people are related to Nilotic ethnic groups inhabiting in areas of south Sudan, Ethiopia, Northern Uganda, western Kenya, Eastern Congo and Mara region of Tanzania.
Specifically the Luo people in Kenya inhabit the western/Nyanza region, the Luo tribe is ranked as the 4th largest ethnic group in Kenya after the Kikuyu, Luhya and Kalenjin. The Luo in Kenya call themselves “JOLUO aka JALUO” meaning the people of Luo, the Luo speak Dholuo language.
Traditionally, the Luo are fishermen depending on carrying out fishing as their main economic activity, because of their activity the Luo have a saying that “without fish no Luo is complete”
Traditionally, the Luo have a teeth removing and circumcision ceremony which initiate Luo boys to Men, during the circumcision ceremony six lower teeth of boys are removed as a way of distinguishing Luo men from others. The most unique and fascinating aspect about the Luo is that they professional mourners, they are famously known for being hired as professional mourners to moon for others.
The Luo people are known for having a reputation of bragging and flossing.
The Kalejin tribe is the 3rd most popular ethnic group in Kenya making up to 12% of the Kenyan overall population, this ethnic group is a very amazing group to visit offering fascinating cultural retreat during a Kenya cultural safari. The Kalenjin ethnic group is a group of southern Nilotic people who are indigenous to East Africa and the whole tribe is made up of 11 culturally and linguistically related tribes namely Kipsigis, Nandi, Tugen, Keiyo, Marakwet, Pokot, Sabaot, sengwar, lembus, ogiek and the Terik. All these 11 tribes/groups speak Kalenjin languages belonging to the Nilotic language family.
The Kalenjin people are very social people living together in rounded thatched huts which are constructed using bent saplings and a mixture of mud and cow dung, the Kalenjin people are substance farmers depending on cultivation of grains such as maize, wheat, sorghum and millet. To a smaller extent they also rear animals such as cow, goats and sheep for beef and milk
Traditionally the Kalenjin tribe carries out an initiation “circumcision” process which is a key component of to the Kalenjin identity most especially among males, The circumcision initiation is signifies the translation of from Kalenjin males from boyhood to manhood, this process occurs during a boys pre-teen/early teenage years and can participate in it during your Kenya cultural safari.
The Kalenjin people have a monotheistic belief and they worship a deity called “Asis” which signifies the sun, the Kalenjin people are famously known as the running tribe because of their athletic superiority and this has been witnessed as many Kalenjin people winning in some of the international marathons.
As you can see, the diversity of the tribes in Kenya sometimes leads to clashes between the major groups; however, the cultural wealth offered to the country by these tribes is rich and forms an integral part of the Kenyan and African identity. To explore the culture at this place, you can book a Kenya holiday package that lets you explore its rich tribal culture.