With 42 tribes in Kenya, defining a specific entertainment as ‘traditional’ is nearly impossible without going into an excessive treatise on the subject. Each tribe has song, dance, costumes and musical instruments particular to their area. This article gives a brief overview of the types of entertainment, some examples from various tribes and where you can find traditional entertainment when you come to Kenya.
Song is a form of traditional entertainment almost globally so it is no surprise to find Kenyan tribes also singing. Each of the 42 tribes has their own language, so it is simple to tell where the song is from… so long as you can recognise the language! Across the tribes one thing is the same: there are different beats and words for songs associated with the various ceremonies. This means that when a Kikuyu returns to his village and hears singing he can tell what is happening. It doesn’t mean however that if a Taita goes to the Kikuyu village he will also be able to tell what is happening, unless he understands Kikuyu. So each tribe has circumcision songs, party songs, wedding songs, funeral songs, new baby songs and so on.
Along with singing comes dancing and, again, movements differ across the tribes. Kikuyus wear bells on their ankles with men and women pairing up, putting palms together and swaying. In Luhya culture, the dance is all about the shoulders and for Luos it’s about the hips. The Maasai men jump and it is a show of manliness if they can jump higher than their peers.
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