Tribal Identities in Kenya

Published: 09th July 2010
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There are about forty different tribes in Kenya. These tribes have different ways of life and customs. Though they are different, there are things that unite them. These include the dressing, food, entertainment and language. To look at a few of these will help you understand Kenyans at a deeper level. The key identity for every tribe is the language. Most tribes are recognized by the dialect they use. The Kikuyu language is different to the Embu or Luo. What unites the tribes is the National language Swahili that is used countrywide. English is the official language.

Another tribal identity is the food. Different tribes enjoy having different meals. If we look at the Masai, there most popular meal is meat and milk. The Kikuyu mostly have a mix of maize and beans called Githeri while the Luo staple diet is fish and Ugali. Ugali is a solid mixture of maize meal and water. The Swahili pride themselves in the Pilau. If there was ever going to be declared a national food, Ugali would win the contest. Every household in Kenya takes it several times a week regardless of their economic status.

Another very important tribal identity is the male initiation procedure. This is circumcision. Most communities circumcise there male children at the age of 13. The Luo though despised the practice but they are nowadays embracing it. Some communities practiced Female Genital Mutilation though it has long since been banned by the government. Some tribes such as the Masai can be recognized by the way they dress. These adorn long red shukas and their hair is beautified using red ochre. Nowadays, most tribes have adopted western ways of dressing and it's hard to tell them apart.

Dickson is the Chief Tour Guide and one of the Directors of Adventure Africa Expedition, he has traveled in many countries in Africa where he built the spirit of adventure and discovered nature hidden wonders in especially tailored walking trails like in Kisoro in Rwanda and Bwindi in Uganda both for Gorilla tracking. For more information on his work please visit

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