Exploring Kenyan Culture

Kenya is home to breathtaking landscapes, interesting cultures, beautiful national parks and wildlife reservations. It is an ideal place to experience the fragrant smells of street food and colorful corner markets depicting it’s busy and bustling energy. With an abundance of successful conservation efforts, Kenya is known for preserving and protecting its stunning creatures and landscapes.

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Kenyan People and Community

Family in Kenya is not just the nuclear family but extended to cousins, uncles, and aunts. In Kenyan culture, family is considered a major factor when it comes to identity, a sense of belonging, and security. The upbringing of a child in Kenya means cousins, aunts, and uncles play a large role in their day-to-day life and may make visits without prior notice and expect a helping hand when in need.

Dinner is an important meal as it brings together all family members. Religious services are also a communal experience for families. Religious beliefs are strong for Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities. Sunday is the biggest day for Christian families as they will spend almost all day in church activities.

In Kenya, household chores are traditionally done by women. Sometimes men try to help in the house, but it’s not very common. In general, children are expected to make their own beds each morning and keep their room tidy.

Kenyan culture is very communal in nature. Kenyans share everything from clothes, food, and even space!  At home, personal items are often shared with every member of the family. In most families, they don’t understand the concept of private time and it’s uncommon to stay alone in one’s room for long periods of time except to sleep.

Language and Communication Styles

Kenya is a multilingual country. Swahili is the national language, while the official language is English. Within urban centers, people mostly speak English or Swahili. However, there are over forty other indigenous African languages spoken by Kenyans, especially in the countryside or within people from the same ethnic group.

Food in Kenya

Fried Steak, Ugali and Sukuma Wiki

Food in Kenya is rich in different types of breads, fried potatoes, eggs, rice, meat, fish, and vegetables. Meals are a family time, so Kenyan families often sit down together talk about their day during meals. Most people eat with their right hand.

There is no singular dish that represents all of Kenya’s wide cuisine. Different communities have their own native foods. Food staples such as maize and other cereals depend on the region, including millet and sorghum eaten with various meats and vegetables. The foods that are universally eaten in Kenya are ugali (maize), sukuma wiki (vegetables), and nyama choma (roasted beef).

Grains are a food staple for groups that grow grains such as Kikuyu, Embu, Meru, and Kisii. Other communities such as the Luo and the Coastal communities have fish and seafood as their staple food. In semi-arid areas like Turkana, foods made from sorghum are more common staple foods. Towards the city, food eaten by working families vary according to preference and ethnicity. Rice and stew are more common with working families, and other dishes like chapati (parantha) and chicken stew.

Additional Resources

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