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The Kenyan Communities :


Kenya is home to around 70 different people groups, including 13 main tribes. This diversity of people leads to a rich culture. This diversity of ethnics in Kenya is absolutely unique in Africa! Issued from migrant people, at different period and from different roads… Among them, some ethnic’s people you will probably meet:

The Kikuyu:

They make up the country’s largest tribal group and their heartland surrounds Mt Kenya. Today, 20% of Kenyans are kikuyu. They also fiercely resisted the British, spearheading the Mau Mau rebellion in the 50’s that was a major catalyst for the end of British rules.
The kikuyu territory borders that of the Maasai, and intertribal raids on property and cattle were once common. Despite this, intermarriage between the tribes occurred and there are many cultural similarities between the tribes today.
Initiation rites for both boys and girls are very important ceremonies and consist in ritual circumcision for both (female genital mutilation for girls). For girls, it is becoming less common. The kikuyu are the most best politically represented in Kenya due to the influence of Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of Kenya.

The Maasai:

With a reputation (sometimes exaggerated) as fierce warriors and a proud demeanor, this tribe of Nilotic origin has largely managed to stay outside the mainstream of development in Kenya and still maintains large cattle herds along the Tanzanian border. Maasai women are famous for their vast plate-like bed necklaces, while men typically wear red checked shuka (Maasai blanket) and carry a distinctive ball-ended club. Blood and milk are the mainstay of the Maasai diet, supplemented by a drink called mursik, made from fermented milk with cow’s urine and ashes, which is shown to lower cholesterol.At around 14, males become el-moran (warriors, but also men) and build a small livestock camp after their circumcision ceremony, where they live alone for up to 8 years, before returning to the village to marry.Female genital mutilation is common among the Maasai people, despite the best efforts of various human rights’ groups. Tourism provides an income for some, either through being guides and camp guards, selling everyday items, dancing or simply posing for photographs. However the benefits are not widespread. Recently, many have moved to the cities or coast resorts to work in hotels and restaurants.

The Swahili:

Although the people along the coast do not have a common heritage, they do have a linguistic link : Swahili, a bantu-based language that evolved as a means of communication between Africans and Arabs, Persians and Portuguese, who colonized the East of African coast. The cultural origin of Swahili comes from intermarriage between the Arabs and Persians with African slaves from the 7th century onwards. The Swahili were to become one of the principal slaving forces in Africa. Lots of Swahili practice Islam, although it usually takes a more liberal form than that practiced in the Middle East.

The Taita and Taveta:

The Taita people (also known as wataita) live in the Taita Hills in the south west of Kenya, near the Tanzania border and surrounding plains. Historians believe that the Taitas migrated from Central Africa alongside other Bantu tribes, arriving in present day Kenya from the south through Shungwaya before finally settling in the fertile Taita hills. The hills provided the Taita with refuge from raids and attacks by the neighboring maasai tribe. Both the Taita and Taveta people are primarily farmers with varied ethnic roots. They are more related to the Pare and Chagga of the Kilimanjaro region in Tanzania than any other community in Kenya. The Taita are hill people and, while agriculture forms the basis of their economy, they have traditionally hunted and grazed in the dry lands around the mountain bastions.The Taita are smaller group living at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro where there is such abundance of ground water, that the area is supported by a lowlalnd forest most of which has been replaced by farms save for Kitobo Forest. Of historical importance is the Taveta sisal estate, which was established by the Col. Ewart Grogan in the early 20th century.

European settlers in Kenya:

There is a prominent presence of European settlers in Kenya. The appropriate Swahili term is “Wazungu” which means white. The wazungu group in Kenya consists of the descendants from the British settlers during the colonial era, the various expatriates that live and work in Kenya, and Kenyan citizens. They have contributed to the Kenyan socio-economic and environmental infrastructure in numerous ways, including conservation plans and projects, educational development and other professional activities.

These tribes were few example, you have also Kalenjin, Kamba, Luo, Luhya, Rendille, Samburu, Turkana… and so many others…!