Tribes of Kenya


Kenya Tribes


This tribe is also frequently called the "Boni". The Aweer is a small and very isolated tribe found by the coast of Kenya, near the border with Somalia. This Kenya tribe is best known for its unusual practice of using semi-domesticated birds to find honey, with whistling signals. The Aweer are mostly Muslim, like other coastal tribes. Their remote territory is heavily wooded and the tribe is traditionally hunters & gatherers, rather than the typical Kenyan cattle herders


The Bajuni are mainly found along the coast in Somalia, but with some villages in northern Kenya. The islands in the Indian Ocean near Kismayu are mainly populated with Bajuni people. Naturally, their traditional way of life is as fishermen and sailors. Their language is called Kibajuni, and it is very similar to the popular Swahili of the region. These people are very few and also isolated.


The Bukusu are actually a sub-group of the larger Luhya tribe, living near Mount Elgon in Western Province of Kenya. They are agricultural people who live in extended family groups, with husbands traditionally are polygamous. The Bukusu people keep large herds of cattle for food and as a measure of wealth. Unlike many other pastoral tribes, the Bukusu are not nomadic and live in permanent villages. Compared to the rest of the Luhya tribe, the Bukusu people live the most traditionally and have not accepted many modern changes to their way of life.


The Dahalo tribe has diminished almost to extinction, with its people living among the Swahili and other coastal tribes, but with no real communities or territory of their own. The language of the Dahalo is very unusual, and has clicking sounds seldom seen in spoken languages.


The Embu are found on the south-east side of Mount Kenya. In the past, they grew crops for their own use, but today they use their fertile mountain lands for growing cash crops instead. Circumcision is an important coming-of-age ritual, which is done for both girls and boys. Though most Embu are Christians now, their traditional beliefs held that god, Ngai, lived on the top of their mountain.


There Kalenjin tribe hails from the Great Rift Valley. The traditional Kalenjin religion centers on a single god, who they referred to as Asis. Many people have adopted Christianity, while still holding some old beliefs about sacrifice and ancestoral spirits. The Kalenjin people are renowned for their running ability.


Also called the Akamba, this tribe hails form the eastern part of Kenya. The Kamba people practice many trades, including cattle herding, farming and trade with other nearby tribes. Today, there are large populations of the Kamba living in the coastal cites, but many still live in the countryside. Artistic crafts made by the Kamba can be seen all through Kenya galleries and gift shops. They are particularly well-known for their wood carving and pottery. A bride price in cattle is paid before a marriage, and families live together in tight-knit extended groups.


They are one of the biggest tribes in Kenya. They live in the fertile central highlands. They dominate the country politically and economically. The Kikuyu are closely related to the Embu, Mbeere and Meru peoples who live in the same area around Mount Kenya. Most Kikuyu are now Christians. Some still have their traditional beliefs, according to which their god Ngai (‘the provider’) lives on top of Mount Kenya.


The Kisii live in the western corner of Kenya, near the shores of Lake Victoria. Due to the fertile nature of their highland territory, the Kisii are often very wealthy from their large cash crop plantations. Female circumcision is still widely practiced among this tribe. Christianity is the common religion of the tribe now, though some still hold to their old beliefs. Their god is Engoro, and people communicated with him through their ancestors spirits. Even the Christian Kisii still fear witchcraft..


The Kenya tribe of the Kore is nearly extinct, with only a few hundred members left. They were defeated by the Maasai more than a hundred years ago, and the remaining population was taken into slavery by the Somali tribe. After they were freed by the British, they returned to Kenya and now live on the island of Lamu. They live much like Somali people, having adopted many of their customs.


A large population of the Kuria tribe lives in Tanzania and the rest are found in the southern areas of Kenya. They are a mixture of farmers, fishermen (those living near Lake Victoria) and pastoral herders. They are closely related to the Luhya, but are not considered a sub-group of that tribe. The Kuria have an unusual marriage custom where 2 women can be married, so that a woman who cannot have her own children can still have a family.

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