Kenyan Cultures and Customs.


Kenyan Cultures and Customs.

What is culture or precisely what is the Kenyan culture? Let us begin by having an overview about Kenya culture: both on the national psyche, lifestyle, and rules in social life, the place of religion and the tribes, art, music.

National Culture

Kenya is a diverse country, with many different cultures, history, people, tribes, language, foods, and lifestyles represented. Notable cultures include the Swahili on the coast, pastoralist communities in the north, and several different communities in the central and western regions. Today, the Maasai culture is the best known, due to its heavy exposure from tourism.

Kenya's culture is both varied and fragmented. Nowhere else in Africa is there such a large number of ancient cultures, all alive and well in no hurry to change. Each cultural / ethnic group have their unique traditional arts & crafts, architecture in homestead designs, clothing and jewelry, food, language, history, lifestyle, social and economic activities etc

Kenyan Tribes and people

Kenya is bestowed with well over 40 different tribes with different languages and dialects, customs, beliefs and lifestyles.

Unique of all tribes is the Elmolo, Kenya's smallest group which is a surviving tribe just emerging from the stone age standard of living usually described as the race that has stood the test of time.

Kenyan Lifestyle

Within Africa, Kenyans enjoy a reputation as hard workers and at 7 o’clock the streets are crowded. However, Kenyans take it easy and have a casual approach to time. The phrase “Hakuna Matata”, meaning “don’t worry and enjoy life” is actually Swahili, which is the official language of both Kenya and Tanzania. You’ll hear that a lot, especially along the coast.

Kenyans like to laugh and quickly offer a smile to people. A Kenyan will take the time for you if you ask him something. If there is just anything unusual, a crowd will assemble within a minute around you and everybody will offer his opinion on what’s going on. Even foreigners are quickly invited to participate in whatever’s going on.

Kenyans often use proverbs and sayings to comment on things. They are typically comparisons drawn from everyday life, and show some very down to earth, good humoured wisdom.

Behaviour, Dress Code, Sexual Morals

When meeting someone, a Kenyan will greet him extensively. Shaking hands is normal between men when meeting and departing. Women also shake hands with each other, but with men only in more sophisticated circles.

Kenyans naturally touch each other easily. Be aware of the fact that the left hand is seen as unhygienic and unkind. So use your right hand to pass things to someone, to touch somebody, etcetera. However, this rule is not always followed just ignore it then. Pointing your finger at someone is seen as rude.

Kenyans dress conservatively. Kenyan men wear shirts and long trousers, often with a blazer or sweater. Women wear long trousers or skirts below the knee. This is even more so at the coast, where the majority are Muslim. But you won’t get into trouble for wearing shorts and T-shirts – Kenyans are too polite to make comments.

Contrary to their conservative dressing, the sexual morals are pretty loose, although there are differences between tribes and religions within Kenya culture. In Muslim areas, religious rules on sexuality are interpreted liberally.

The age of consent is 16. Be aware that HIV/AIDS is a big problem. Around 7% of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS (often not through intercourse, but through their parents and through receiving infected blood.)


Most Kenyans are nominally Christians, although many mix it with traditional religious beliefs. You’ll encounter for example a widespread belief in witchcraft. Witches are thought to cause illnesses and can put a spell on women so that no man will ever look to her again. Religion is important in the Kenyan culture. Gospel music is popular and especially in cities you’ll often see street preachers, who offer religion as a solution of the many social ills in Kenya It is important to know exactly what goes on in the different tribes. (You may create a link to go to the tribe’s page at this point) .

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