Currently there are more than 40 different ethnic group in Kenya.
The main groups of tribes are the Bantu who migrated from western Africa, the
Nilotic people who originated from Sudan and the Hamitic group, who were mainly
pastoral tribes from Ethiopia and Somalia. The main tribes are Kikuyu (21%),
Meru (5%), Kalenjin, Luyha, Luo (14%), Kisii, Kamba, Swahili, Masai, Turkana
The other large ethnic groups include the Luo, Luhya, Kamba and Kalenjin- There
are also some groups of people who form a very small population. This includes
the tribe of El Molo.
The Kikuyu are Bantu and actually came into Kenya during the Bantu migration.
They include some families from all the surrounding people and can be identified
with the Kamba, the Meru, the Embu and the Chuka. The Kikuyu tribe was originally
founded by a man named Gikuyu.
Kikuyu history says that the Kikuyu God, Ngai, took Gikuyu to the top of Kirinyaga
and told him to stay and build his home there. He was also given his wife, Mumbi.
Together, Mumbi and Gikuyu had nine daughters. There was actually a tenth daughter
but the Kikuyu considered it to be bad luck to say the number ten. When counting
they used to say full nine instead of ten. It was from the nine
daughters that the nine (occaisionally a tenth) Kikuyu clans -Achera, Agachiku,
Airimu, Ambui, Angare, Anjiru, Angui, Aithaga, and Aitherandu- were formed.
Traditionally the Kikuyu are farmers. The Kikuyu homelands, in the foothills
of Mount Kenya, are still some of the most intensively farmed areas of the country.
Found mainly in Southern Kenya, the Massai believed that their rain God Ngai
granted all cattle to them for safe keeping when the earth and sky split. Since
cattle was given to the Massai, they believe its okay to steal from other tribes.
The Massai worship cattle because it is their main source of economic survival
as opposed to education.
Many Massai believed that education is not important for the herdsman to search
for green grass to feed the cows. The Massai have not strayed from the traditional
basic ways of life. Farming for the trading of crops such as corn and vegetable
is done by some Massai. But the rejecting the cash economy and refusing to settle
or become farmers has made life difficult and harsh.
The Massai prefer to remain nomadic herdsmen, moving as their needs necessitate.
This is becoming more difficult in modern times as their open plain disappear.
In the drier regions of the north, the Maasai subsists on a diet of cow's blood
and milk, which they mix together and drink.
The Samburu are related to the Masai although they live just above the equator
where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into the northern desert. They are
semi-nomadic pastoralists whose lives revolve around their cows, sheep, goats,
and camels. Milk is their main stay; sometimes it is mixed with blood. Meat
is only eaten on special occasions. Generally they make soups from roots and
barks and eat vegetables if living in an area where they can be grown.
Most dress in very traditional clothing of bright red material used like a skirt
and multi-beaded necklaces, bracelets and earrings, especially when living away
from the big cities.
The Turkana are the second largest group of nomadic pastoralists in Kenya who
live in nothern Kenya - numbering over 200,000 they occupy a rectangular area
bordered by Lake Turkana in northern Kenya and Ethiopia on the east, Uganda
on the west, Sudan on the north
Traditional dress and ornaments is of vital importance, much emphasis being
placed on adornment of both women and young Moranis (warriors) . Their neck
is hidden by brightly colored beads, any object, even the most simple and ordinary
in western eye is greatly sought after as an ornament to increase there charm.
Kenya People Reservation Form