Along with safaris, Kenya is also famous for its culture. It is in Kenya that a culturally and ethically rich heritage is found. More than 40 ethnic groups live in the country, each having its own set of traditions, beliefs, and lifestyles. A Kenya vacations is rewarding because it helps travelers interact with the original inhabitants of the land.
Typically, Kenya’s community is divided into three linguistic groups. The Bantu is the largest ethnic community followed by Nilotic and Cushitic. While the Bantu people traditionally depended on farming, the Nilotic group is nomadic. They were considered hunters and warriors. The Cushitic-speaking people were known to be ancient Egyptians.
During Kenya safaris, cultural interactions are the highlight. Travelers can meet up with Kenya’s indigenous tribes and even participate in certain rituals.
Here are three best tribal visits during a Kenya Safari
Belonging to the Nilotic group, the Maasai is a popular tribe in Kenya. Although small in population, the Maasai are extremely popular in the country. They live in the northern, southern, and central regions of Kenya. Maasai people inhabit most of the Kenyan national parks and reserves. The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the best places to interact with this tribe.
The Maasai are recognized for their unique culture. They dress up in red-striped attire called Shukas and wear handmade ornaments. These ornaments are carefully made by the Maasai women. Masai families live inside small Bomas which are traditional huts. This group is semi-nomadic and depends on livestock.
Maasai people are famous for their height and their roles as warriors. Many of their rituals are sacred in the community. One of them is the Moran ritual wherein young Maasai men live in a period of isolation to develop courage and become future warriors. Another interesting ritual of the Maasai culture is Adumu, a form of traditional Maasai jumping dance. This dance requires immense strength, fitness, and skill.
Another popular tribe in Kenya is Kikuyu. They form approximately 22 percent of Kenya’s population, making them the largest tribe in the country. Kikuyu community mostly inhabits Kenya’s central region. They belong to the Bantu ethnic group and are largely farmers.
The best place to interact with the Kikuyu people is Mount Kenya. They worship a deity called Nagi which is believed to reside in Mount Kenya. The Kikuyu people also wear Shukas. However, in contrast to the Maasai, a Kikuyu’s Shukas are large squared shaped clothing. They are mostly colored red and blue. The Kikuyu people have different types of clothing depending on age and occasion. They also adorn their bodies with beautiful pieces of jewelry like earrings, necklaces, anklets, and bracelets made from colorful cowrie shells.
The Kikuyu community in Kenya speaks Gigikuyu and Kiswahili languages. Although many of the Kikuyu people have spread across urban areas, they continue to retain their traditions and cultures.
The Luhya is the second largest tribe in Kenya, amounting to 14 percent of the country’s population. The Luhya belong to the ethnic Bantu community and reside mostly in the western areas of Kenya. Luhya encompasses 19 different Bantu tribes. Their language is collectively known as the Luhya language. Some of the tribes that make up the Luhya tribe are Kisa, Marachi, Nyala, and Bukusu.
Most of the traditional attire of Luhyas’ is composed of brightly colored printed cloths. These traditional dresses are usually worn during occasions, only by particular Luhya people. In cultural dances, the Luhya people put on skirts made from sisal strands along with feathered hats.
Bullfighting is one of the cultural practices of the Luhya group, especially seen in Western Kenya. This is considered a form of sport in the community, especially performed to honor visitors during significant occasions. The bullfighting ceremony attracts thousands of on-lookers. This practice is accompanied by the beating of the drums and intense dancing.