Kenyan people are a diverse group of people with quite different cultural backgrounds. With more than 42 different each with its own dialect, there is no way you can you can describe Kenyans as one monolithic group, but despite all these differences there are other factors that make Kenyans unique, the simple reason of Kenyan with a common national language (Swahili), the bond between Kenyans is quite strong that looking at them from the outside you cannot tell difference.

Kenyans are quite linguistic people, because most of them speak at least 3 languages, English (which is the official language), Swahili/Kiswahili (the national language) plus their local dialects, some of the Kenyans also have a choice of learning other foreign languages which are free in many of the local high schools.

Historically Kenyan people are divided into three different groups, Bantus, Cushites, and Nilotes and each group are then divided down into small groups which are the tribes.

The Bantus

Bantus simply means human beings, and they make up about 2/3 of the entire population consisting of

  • Coastal Bantus- The Mijikenda, Taita, Taveta, Pokomo and the Makonde
  • Lake or western Bantus- Luhya people with several sub-tribes, Gusii and the Kuria people
  • Highland Bantus- The Embu, Meru, Kamba, Kikuyu which is the most populous tribe in the country, they make up about 22% of the entire population, plus other related tribes.

The Cushites

The Cushites form the smallest group of Kenyan people, they are the Somali people who form the largest part of the Cushite, Boni, Gabbra, Orma, El Molo which is the smallest tribe in Kenya, plus a few marginal tribes. The Kushites are mainly nomadic and are mainly found in the semi-arid coastal area and in Northeastern n Kenya as well as around Lake Turkana.

The Nilotes

The Nilotes are the second largest group of the Kenyan people and are also divided down into three subgroups.

  • The river lake Nilotes- They consist of the joluo (Kenya Luo) which the second largest tribe after the Kikuyu. They are usually found along the shore of Lake Victoria and consists of several sub-tribes.
  • The plain Nilotes- The main tribe which is the most popular tribe of Kenya are the Maasai people, they are popular due to their colorful traditional way of dressing with colorful beads; they are usually Nomadic and have shunned civilization and held onto their traditional way of life. The Samburu and Turkana are also plain Nilotes.
  • The highland Nilotes- The Kalenjins, the one tribe that has made Kenyan people popular with long distance running all over the world; they include the Kipsigis, Nandi, Tugen, Pokot, plus other smaller sub-tribes. They are usually found along the highlands of the great rift valley.

Other Groups of Kenyans Includes the

  • Kenyan Europeans, who are mainly of British origin, mostly descendants of Europeans who came to Kenya during the colonial period.
  • Arab Kenyans who are usually found along coastal Kenya, they are believed to have come to Kenya on trade from the greater middle east.
  • Kenyan Asians who are mainly Indians who were brought to Kenya by the British during the colonial period to work on road and railway roads. They are usually popular and successful business people in most of the East Africa region.

 

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