A tribal visit will be a culturally enriching experience that will enhance any Kenya safari holiday. Here are our top 3:
The Maasai are perhaps the best-known tribal group in Kenya, and often a visit to a traditional Maasai village is an integral part of any Kenya safari itinerary. Fiercely proud and independent, the Maasai traditionally live semi-nomadic lives alongside their large herds of cattle, goats and sheep. Nowadays, as they are forced to live more settled lifestyles in fixed areas of land, the Maasai have begun to grow their own food, but their strong sense of social tradition remains much unchanged. Maasai men are primarily warriors – killing a lion is considered the ultimate test of manhood, and most Maasai men are not to be seen without their fearsome beaded hair, shuka blanket and balled club. Maasai women, meanwhile, tend to domestic tasks, and photographs of these striking women, with their long braided hair and spectacular beaded necklaces, make great mementos of your Kenya safari experience.
The Samburu take their name from their neighbouring tribes’ habit of calling them ‘butterflies’; with their red and white traditional dress, colourful beaded jewellery, stunning face paint, and the great cultural importance of dancing, it’s easy to see why. Like their relatives the Maasai, the Samburu people live semi-nomadic pastoral lives, depending upon their cattle, goats, sheep and camels for survival. The Samburu people move every 5-6 weeks to search for new grazing grounds. Living in groups of 5-10 families, the men traditionally go on raiding parties to steal rival clans’ cattle. Samburu women, meanwhile, gather food and look after the home and children. Entry into adulthood is traditionally marked, for both genders, by a circumcision ceremony. Learning more about the Samburu and their place in modern Kenya will enhance any Kenya safari holiday.
The Luo form 13% of Kenya’s population, making them the third largest ethnic group. They live in the area surrounding Lake Victoria, and a cultural visit to a Luo community is a must for anyone planning a Kenya safari trip to the region. The Luo are one of the very few Kenyan tribes that do not mark a boy’s transition to manhood by circumcision, preferring to remove six teeth from his lower jaw instead. They also have a unique custom known as ‘wife inheritance’, whereby a man’s widow is ‘inherited’ by his brother. One surprise to many tourists visiting the Luo as part of their Kenya safari adventure is the discovery that the elite, urban and educated Luo often speak in the familiar clipped tones of The Queen’s English.