Kenya's Culture

by Martin Juma

National heritage is considered an intrinsic national resource and socio-cultural phenomenon that epitomizes the value of a nation or community; it is normally generational in nature. Culture is one of the main components of national heritage, and it involves human practices, beliefs and behaviour that are articulated in the society. Culture is deemed to be civilization and it involves a continuous process of the changes in individual’s rituals, beliefs, and values over a given period. Culture also denotes the social and economic system of human beings and it describes the relationship of human beings with the environment on their quest to survive. Kenya is one of the countries that are rich in cultural heritage that is as a result of the diversified cultural background of the 42 tribal communities. 

Since independence, in 1963, the Kenyan Government has developed Department of Culture in which it is mandated in safeguarding, protecting and developing Kenya’s cultural heritage. The department ensures that the community is encouraged to participate in different development programmes that supports national cultural heritage. It has supported cultural groups and cultural festivals that are rooted in schools and community groupings. In achieving its global goal, the department has commenced numerous cultural programmes ranging from language development, visual arts, performing arts, positive traditions and customs. Education on cultural aspects has also been undertaken by the department. Conservation of these cultural heritage and diverse beliefs has been directed to the National Museums of Kenya, and they have the legal right to safeguard any integral component of music and culture. 

With numerous tribal communities across Kenya, it is difficult for them to be identified with a single culture. Kenya has been a region of unending cultural multiplicity, disparity, and change. This is depicted by the different regional individuals across the country like Swahili people who are living at the coast, pastoralist communities that reside in the Northern part of the country and various communities residing in the Western and Central regions of the country. Kenya has different tribal states that were characterized by shift in power and migration. During the colonial period, Kenya demonstrated its hospitality as it allowed individuals across the globe to meet in the region. 

The country is rich in music from different cultural groups, and it is known across the globe as the home for sophisticated musical instruments. Different ethnic groups have different musical instruments that are made from different materials that include shells, horns, reeds, hide, gourds and bamboo. However, the playing techniques and musical instruments that the communities rely have an obscure origin, which prevents them from having a clear informational background of the origin of the musical instruments. The Kalenjin, Kisii, Luhya, and Luo communities have sophisticated musical instruments, and with the advancement in technology, each community aims at providing instruments that gel with the changing times. The Kenyan children are aware of the significance of the musical culture in the region, and they often learn the skills of making the musical instruments in the early stages of their life. Some of the materials they use include strings, metal, shells and leaves.

The Luhya, who are the occupants of the Western part of the country, are known for their dancing style of Sikuti—which is the local name that is referred to drum. The Chuka and Kamba people have a distinct drumming style that is characterized by athletic and acrobatic dancing. Luos, who reside along the lake region, are known for the development of string musical instrument known as Nyatiti. Along the coastal region of the country, the occupants are influenced by the culture of Swahili, and their music has a unique style known as the Taarab. 

The Kenyan communities participate in nomadism, pastoralism, fishing and farming. Along the lake region, their economic activity is fishing. The Northern part of the country is majorly characterized by nomadism, as the weather condition in the region is unfavourable. The society moves from one region to other searching for greener pastures and water for their animals. This trend has been in the norm with the Maasai and Kalenjin communities. The coastal and central Kenya practices farming, in which they have specialized in irrigation farming. This has not only seen them sustain their living, but also generate additional income. 

In the religion aspect, the country is endowed with numerous religious denominations that include Christianity, Hindu, and Muslim among others. It is in Kenya where numerous churches are found following the migration of foreigners into the region. Although there are majority of churches in the region, the society has an escalating crime rate especially in the urban regions. Apart from the modern churches existing in Kenya, traditional religious groupings are also evident in some areas, majorly in rural settings. Some of these religious denominations include Dini ya Msambwa that is practised in the Western part of Kenya. The government of Kenya understands the diversity in the religious settings, and often conducts inter-denominational prayers that aim at uniting the different denominations in the country. Indeed, Kenya is rich in cultural heritage. 


作者:马丁-札马 ,翻译:霏雪







在宗教方面,肯尼亚拥有着众多的宗教教派,其中包括基督教,印度教,穆斯林教,等等。因外国人迁移到该地区而出现的许多教堂,都显迹于肯尼亚。虽然大多数地区都有教会,但社会犯罪率却不断上升,尤其在城市地区。除了肯尼亚现有的现代教会,传统的宗教团体在一些地区也比较常见,尤其是在农村地区。这些宗教派别包括“Dini ya Msambwa”,它在肯尼亚的西部地区盛行。肯尼亚政府对宗教环境的多样性甚是理解,并为团结国内不同教派,经常举办教派间的祈祷活动。显而易见,肯尼亚是一个有丰富文化遗产的国家。