Who are the Kenyan People?


Kenya People

The Kenyan people are very diverse and include most linguistic and ethnic groups. Because of the tribes, national identity is rather weak, although most governments have tried to create a ‘Kenyan identity’

Kenyans on the whole are a happy and friendly people. They are never too busy to make time for you, and little crowds gather in no time if something extraordinary is happening. The two official Kenya languages are English and Swahili (called Kiswahili in the language itself). Both are taught at schools throughout the country.

However, as language is the most important denominator of ethnic groups in Kenya, there are much more indigenous languages than just Swahili.

English and Swahili

English of course originates from the British, who colonized the country from the end of the 19th century until Kenya’s independence in 1963.

Swahili is a Bantu language (the Bantu peoples encompass several tribes, such as the Kikuyu and Meru) with a strong Arab and Persian influence, as traders of these countries have frequented East Africa for ages. Swahili is actually relatively easy to learn - the grammar is quite simple and the pronunciation isn't confusing.

It is time to have a closer look of the Kenyan tribes.

The Maasai are the most famous tribe not only of Kenya, but of Africa as a whole. They have become an international symbol of African tribal life. But they are not the only one.

Many tribes have adopted a semi-Western life style, although some – especially the Maasai, Turkana and Samburu have kept their traditional life styles and appearances.

The proud Maasai warriors of course, are the most famous of them. They’ve become a symbol of Kenya and indeed tribal Africa as a whole.

Language, however, is the main criteria for a tribe. There are three main language groups in which the tribes in Kenya can be divided:

Bantu-speaking tribes:

Central Bantu: Kikuyu, Akamba, Meru, Embu, Tharaka, Mbere Western Bantu: Gussi, Kuria, Luhya Coastal Bantu: Mikikenda, Swahili, Pokomo, Segeju, Taveta, Taita

Nilotic-speaking tribes:

Plains Nilotic: Maasai, Samburu, Teso, Turkana, Elmolo, Njemps Highland Nilotic: Kalenjin, Marakwet, Tugen, Pokot, Elkony, Kipsigis Lake River Nilotic: Luo

Cushitic-speaking tribes:

Eastern Cushitic: Rendille, Somali, Boran, Gabbra, Orma Southern Cushitic: Boni

However, most Kenyans speak at least three languages: their tribal (mother tongue) language, Swahili and English. Swahili (or Kiswahili) and English are the official languages of Kenya

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