People, Culture & Lifestyle


With a population of close to 40 million, Kenya is made up of 42 tribes, with the Big Five being Kikuyu, Luhya, Luo, Kalenjin and Kamba – divided into three linguistic and cultural groups - Bantus, Nilotes and Cushites. 

Generally, the traditional way of life has Bantus as farmers while different Nilotic tribes are fishermen, farmers and pastoralists.   Cushites are on most part nomadic pastoralists.  

Kenya has a sizeable number of citizens of European and Asian descent, many of whom trace their families to the building of ‘the lunatic express’, Kenya-Uganda railway line in 1890’s and who today are mostly found in business, manufacturing and large scale farming. 

The Swahili language and culture on the East Africa coast is a fusion of the then resident coastal Bantus with merchant marine Arabs and Persians traders, whose monsoon driven traditional boats (dhows) reached the coast in 6th century. 

Amongst well known Kenyan personalities include Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai (environmentalist), world athletic champions Paul Tergat, Catherine Ndereba, Kipchoge Keino, CNN presenter Zain Verjee, former Reuters former Africa Bureau Chief Jeff Koinange and anthropologist Dr Richard Leakey and the late photo-journalist Mohammed Amin.


With its unique diverse mix of cultures from the world's 5 continents, both modern and ancient, Kenya is a melting-pot of cultures, peoples and religion; the three main religion of the world coexist in peace and harmony here.  Kenya is essentially multicultural, multiracial and multi-religious. The people are warm and unforgettably hospitable.


In Kenya the modern and the traditional live side by side, and at times the lines blur. For many visitors to Kenya, this is evident within minutes of arrival. Among the busy urban traffic, the median strips of fresh grass along the airport road are a popular place for nomadic Maasai herdsmen to graze their cattle during a dry spell. 

More than any other country Kenya has maintained many of its traditional cultures. Indeed, in Kenya tradition and custom is not seen as being linked to the past, but as being an amorphous and evolving part of everyday life.  The result is a completely unique culture, in which it is possible to see, in a day, an orchestra playing Mozart in a Nairobi theatre or church, watch a display of vintage vehicles or a youngsters ‘souped-up’ flashy car parade, a group of urban Kikuyu joining in a traditional wedding ritual in which a bride is sung out of her house by the grooms family, or a Samburu moran with a traditionally beaded mobile phone cover, a Hindu or Moslem ceremonial procession and a Luo fisherman landing his catch of fish from a lake.

In Kenya it is possible to leave Nairobi, a city with a thriving business heart powered by the latest information technology, and drive in just a few hours to a place where life is lived in accordance to tradition and custom, where warriors armed with spears drive cattle into thorn brush enclosures to protect them from lions at night.  Whilst out shopping for souvenirs, visitors to Kenya get the opportunity to acquire and perfect bargaining skills. 

Kenyan culture is built on the acceptance and absorption of new and varied cultures.  The end result is a culture of endless influence and yet one completely uniquely Kenyan in character.