The country has at least 40 different African ethnic groups (including the Gikuyu, Abaluhya, Kalenjin, Luo, Wakamba, Somali, Kisii, Ameru & Embu, Mijikenda, Turkana and Maasai) who speak a variety of mother tongues. The different languages in Kenya fall into three categories – Bantu (Niger-Congo) languages which are spoken by around 65% of people, the Nilo-Saharan group of languages spoken among another third of the population and the Cushitic language, an Afro-Asian tongue spoken in the north by around 3% of the population.
Kiswahili and English are the two official languages.
Despite many influences that have shaped Kenyan society, the culture in Kenya has become truly and purely Kenyan. There is no clear boundary between the traditional and modern livelihoods as it is possible for one to drive through the modern central business city of Nairobi and head right into a traditional community of warriors with spears raising cattle, a couple of hours away. Among nomadic and pastoral communities such as the Maasai, Samburu and Turkana, people still wear cloths or skins and elaborate jewelry of beads and metalwork.
Out of all the African countries, Kenya has perhaps the most diverse assortment of popular music forms in addition to multiple types of folk music. One of the most popular forms of pop music is Benga, which combines traditional African drum and dance rhythms with modern electrical sounds and melodies. Their music is a wide variety of imported hip-hop, reggae, soul, soukous, rock and roll, funk and Europop. Lyrics are often written in Swahili or Lingala but are also sometimes in one of the indigenous languages. The guitar is the most dominant instrument in Kenyan popular music.
It would take many months, spread over many years, for one to find the time and resources to travel the entire length and breadth of Kenya in order to enjoy the country’s large variety of music and dance traditions. The need to do that was obviated by The Bomas of Kenya. This is an institution located next to the main entrance into the Nairobi National Stadium. Here you will find top rate performances of very many dances from across the country. The performers also offer acrobatic shows that display body agility and bravery. In Kiswahili, a boma is an enclosed homestead. The Bomas of Kenya feature several replicas of homesteads of various ethnic communities.