Kenya Local Customs

  • Bombolulu
    by croisbeauty
  • traveling shop
    traveling shop
    by croisbeauty
  • souvenirs
    by croisbeauty

Kenya Local Customs

  • Knowledge of the country, people and...

    Since I have visited Kenya seven years in a row then I can say with lots of authority to know very well the country, people and customs. First visit was the most complicated because I was burdened with number of prejudices and stereotypes which later on proved to be a mere illusion. In human nature there is that one defense mechanism that always...


    On December 8, 1922 Kenya Breweries was founded by brothers George and Charles Hurst. They had previously worked as gold prospectors and farmers. One week later they brewed their first beer and bottled the first 10 cases by hand. They were delivered to the famous Stanley Hotel and their brewing business had begun. In 1923 George was killed on a...

  • Carrying Stuff on the Head

    All over Kenya (and a number of other countries too - and not just in Africa) you will find that people carry all manner of exceedingly large objects on their head.Mostly, it is women who carry things this way, but once in a great while you might see men carry things this way.Depending on the type of load, many of the more skilled women are able to...

  • Jambo!!

    All through Kenya we see people at work . We see them carrying water from rivers that are often several miles away. Even young children help. We see them washing clothes in rivers whose waters are almost dried up.They work together in fields tilling land by hand, the young and the old together trying to carve an existence out of hard dry and...

  • The Pit (aka "Squattie Potty")

    In many places, and of course not just in Africa, you will find that the local facilities are in fact just a hole in the floor. Lest you think that this is only confined to villages with no tourists, the fact is that the Hippo Pools at the very popular Masai Mara reserve have such toilets as well - though the photo here is of one near Oyugis.There...

  • Chew miraa

    Miraa is a stimulant that is grown in Kenya in the Meru region. It is widely available all over the country but seems to be especially popular along the coast, possibly because the hot sticky evenings seem to lend itself to sitting down with some friends talking rubbish and chewing a big bunch of miraa. Even though its a narcotic it is frowned upon...

  • Dresscode

    The very first thing I have noticed is the diversity of colours. Morover, I was in particularly impressed by the natural talent this women have in matching the colours together. Look at this pictures and see for yourself.Most of the women wear long dresses without any stich on it. They just wrap it around their body. Must be very practicle to wear...

  • Carrying babies

    I haven't seen not a single perambulator in whole of Kenya! It doesn't metter weather village or town, weather rich or poor but every single woman is carrying baby in her own arms or in a sort of tissue knapsack conveyed over shoulders. I suppose the baby is feeling much better and more secury having permanent contact with mothers body. Some of...

  • Kenyans are joyful and friendly people

    No metter of hard and poor living conditions, Kenyans are very joyfull and friendly people. Can't tell you nothing about the rich people here because, although they exist, I haven't seen the single one. Most of the locals, I get acquainted to, belong to the ordinary people who are struggling to survive. And yet, all of them were optimistic, joyful...

  • Men's transporting

    Draging hand-cart, more or less overweight, must be extremely hard and suffering way of earning money for living. This guy, on the picture, is draging pretty small content of the water but I've seen carts fill to excess with the load rolling out on the streets and motorways. It is one of the particularness you will see in Kenya because human work...

  • Wooden souveniers everywhere

    No metter if you find yoursel in the towns, villages or along the roads, you'll meet great number of the locals offering wooden souveniers. It seems like one of the most lucrative business here. There exist huge manufacture in the outskirts of Mombasa and most of the souveniers coming out from it. Although each of the piece is hand-made, most of...

  • Everybody sell and buy here

    Aproximatelly half of the population doesn't work and probably will never get a job but yet, everybody sell and buy something. Wherever you go around there are number of shops or stands along the roads offering virtualy everything. I was thought it is exclusevely Arabian habbit but they are just a babies comparing to Kenyans.

  • Second hand cloths

    There are many road-stands with ready made garments but most of them offers second hand cloths. It is very popular in Kenya because great majority of the population cannot afford themselves to buy a new cloths. Besides, new cloths in a specialized shops is very expensive, too expensive for average sallary.

  • Kenyan huts

    The construction of the hut is very simple and most of them have one room only. The hut of Akamba people is divided by poles in two chambers, one where parents sleep and the other for children. As far as I saw, only the Maasai hut consists of more rroms and small kitchen.Each tribe (people) make their characteristic and recognizable type of the...

  • Maasai people

    I was in particularly fascinated with Maasais. Besides visiting a couple of their villages, I get to known in person more than dozens of Maasais meeting them around. They are very simple characters, sincere and honest, and devoted to their friends.Maasais are taller than average Kenyans and very proud people. They never begging around, like most of...

  • Lake Naivasha Scene

    Enjoy the people - Africans are very friendly and love to talk to you! Everywhere that I have been in East, Central and Southern Africa (spanning 1972-1995), I have found the people to be very open and hospitable. This photo of Lake Naivasha was taken from our hotel during our 1981 stop-over at the lodge there.

  • Lots of poor people

    This boy approached to our car when we stopped in front of the restaurant, making this sign which I didn't understand. After we finished our lunch he was still there making this sign repetedly. I gave him 500 shs and he was indescribably happy.Unemployment is the huge problem of Kenya and, as I was told, approximately 50% of the population do not...

  • Huts

    Great majority of Kenyans live in a very poor living conditions, in particularly those who live in the countryside. Their huts are very simple constructions, one or two rooms made of mud and reed with one entrance and no windows. The rooftop is usually covered by the palm leafs or grass mixed by mud.

  • Taking photos of people

    Never, ever take photos of local people without asking their permission first. This is considered extremely rude, and people don't take kindly to it. Many of them, especially among the Maasai, make a living of posing for photos for a small present or some money. Many others will happily agree to pose for you without any remuneration. If you really...

  • Eat what's on your plate!

    When served by a Kenyan, especially a Kikuyu it is good to first wait for your hosts to eat THEN start in. Be aware that eating before praying for the food is shunned and will put you in bad graces with your host(s). When eating,try a bit of everything so as not to make your host feel bad. If there is something you absolutely can't stomach, say "No...

  • "Rabid" Christians are a way of life

    One of the first things you will note about Kenyans is that they are very spiritual and pious. over 80% of Kenya is Christian.It's not uncommon to see bible verses written on Matatus or to sit through 10 different "Gospel healing crusade" ads on TV. This can throw many non-christians and private people into a feeling of being a total stranger....

  • Hospitals, Doctors and Medication

    The medical system in Kenya is not too bad (one of the things that accounts for the high growth of the population. The people did not get it until now, that they don't need to have many children, because some of them won't survive).Anyway I would not want to go to a hospital down here. I also always take syringes and needles with me, knowing that...

  • Internet cafe in the hotels

    Internet service: There is an Internet Cafe in the Flamingo Hotel (I guess in other hotels as well- not in the Dolphin, though). The ?Cafe? actually consists of two computers, connected with the internet over an analogue modem.It works, but is really really a test for ones patience (which is not far as it concerns me). To get the PCs to operate,...

  • Languages - and a guide in tourist...

    The official language of Kenya is English and Kishuaheli. It is a good idea to learn some of the phrases in Kishuaheli, brings you more sympathy, too. 50 Million of people speak Kishuaheli not that many do speak english here.So here are some useful phrases, A small guide of tourist Kishuaheli:Jambo - hello, good dayHabari (yako) how are you?Mzuri...

  • Beach Boys

    Reading through other Tips about that theme I sometimes think that I may be doing them wrong, but in my opinion they are a real nuisance.When I am having holidays and trying to get some quiet days at the beach, I do not want to be bothered with literally dozens of people trying to sell me something which I mostly won’t need nor want in any case. If...

  • Electricity

    Kenya has plugs with three points to it (see picture). You may need an adapter. If you don’t have any, most hotels will rent you one for a small fee or depot. The ones we normally use (the 2 point one in the picture, a swiss plug) sometimes works with the plugs of the shavers in the toilets without an adapter.If you go on safari, make sure to take...

  • Water

    Kenya is a country that suffers- like many other African countries from having few water. Of course there is the sea and some bigger lakes, but most of this is not drinkable. In the hotels at the coast they use water from the sea that has been de-salted for showers and such. The water is still salty, though, which is somewhat irritating if you are...

  • Cats in the Hotels

    Many hotels have their own cat colonies. As one is told right in the beginning, they should not be fed. They have a job to do, which they will not, if they get lazy. They are here to catch the mice and rats. If they don’t the snakes will come to do that. But don’t worry, the cats are quite good looked after. The ones in our hotel are being fed once...

  • How to get you to buy something

    Be it the beach boys or the vendors on the street or any souvenir shop - they do have several ways to ?trick? you into conversation and hopefully then buying something from your new ?friend?.Most used would be to ask "Where are you from?" - this is not only a good conversation starter, this is also a first hint how much to charge you for their...

  • Local People in Kenya Back Country

    Our guide told us never to photograph local people without their permission. Some of them feel very strongly against this, feeling it will steal their soul. Others are glad to have their photo taken if asked, and others wish to be paid. But the point is that you should not take photos of them out the van windows without asking. In some places you...

  • The Masai

    Once a very proud and carefree culture, the Masai people have been swept up in the poverty of Kenya. The Masai do not believe in owning anything, and consider themselves people of the land. When they die, their bodies are taken out into the land and placed so that they may return into the chain of the world. The Masai used to completely ignore the...

  • globalization

    Most of Kenian speak at least 2 languages, so it's easy to understand each other. Don' t forget to ask before shooting pictures to any person that you meet on the road. Most of them will not refuse, but it's a good use to tip them. Children will ask for hats, pens and sweeties, so if you decide to walk into a village don't forget to bring some of...

  • Taking Pictures

    Most Kenyans are not going to let you take their picture for free, and will want money or goods. The standard asking fee for a photo is usually 200-500 kSH, which is about 2-6 USD.If you really want to take photos of tribal Masai, you can arrange to pay an entire village 1000 kSH (10-12 USD) and the villagers will allow you take an unlimited amount...



  • Maasai Village

    On our last visit to Kenya, we finally saw a Maasai village .I was not disappointed. Although there was a charge for visiting, this was a genuine village, not one laid on for the tourists. 85 people lived here, seven families, along with 675 cattle. We met a lot of the people, talked to a few, saw a man who's come out the victor in a fight with a...

  • Kikuyu Dancers

    A group of dancers in a mock-up Kikuyu village put on a very colourful and interesting display for us, dressed in traditional outfits. The bobombo drums echoeing all around the village. Some of the performers actually do live in this village.

  • Samburu warriors

    Everywhere in the area of Maralal in the north of Kenya we saw the Samburu Moran or warriors in their traditional clothing. We saw them in the towncentre, but also with their camels at the Yare lodge.These men still live in symbiosis with their environment and the wildlife. They didn't change their culture and traditions in more than 1000 years....

  • Exchange trade

    People in Kenya do like to exchange goods. They especially prefer famous brand t-shirts, baseballcaps and sunglasses. Want to be a successfull trader? Bring lots of sunglasses that were in fashion in the eighties (you know, bright yellow, weird shapes, the kind you nowadays never would wear), success guaranteed!

  • Women

    All my sympathy goes to the women of Kenya : the country's future lies in their hands.Hunderds of times I saw women working hard while men lay flat on their back resting...They go for water, sells their products, cook meals, look out for the children, ... I even saw a woman working on the road in Nairobi while 6 men where having a break...Chapeau!

  • Children

    One of the main reasons you fall in love with Kenya is the children.Always smiling and having fun... they make your day!I still have to smile when thinking of the thousands of 'How are you?' I heared and the hours I spend waving to everyone.And in case you're wondering what 'Mzungu' means that they keep calling you : it means 'white'.

  • Learn Swahili

    You should definitly learn the following words, you'll need them :* Jambo : hello* Kwa Heri : goodbye* Asante (sana) : thank you (very much)* Karibu : welcome, your welcomeand the expressions :* Habari? : How are you? Nzuri : good* Shikamoo? Marahaba. (for the elderly)

  • Drinking beer in Kenya is a popular...

    When ordering Tusker or any other brand, they will often bring you warm beer!!!If you don't like that, who doesn't, then order a "bia baridi", cold beer. Most Kenyans drink it warm, pfeeew!There are different brands but this is my favorite one.

  • Shaking hands and making friends!

    The Turkana men wear wristknives. When you shake hands with them, they do that threefold, so they have time to find out if you carry any weapons. You get soon used to do it their way. Also these knives are used in a fight or for nomal houshold jobs like cutting meat and so on. In Turkana it is common.

  • The Take-Away of the Jade Sea.

    Stunning picture, this how they carry it to their houses. Good for your hair to, smells a bit at the end of the day!Once I saw a boy who took out the stomach of a dogfish rinsed it in the water and put it on top of his head to dry and take home.

  • When visiting here know how to behave!

    Women always sit together, as do the men. When you get the opportunity to shake hands with a Turkana Lady, then not firm. Just a soft touch of her hand like a handshake will do.Very short not to long!!!A firm one like men often do is a sexual allusion. Before you know it you have to get married there!So don't do with the men either.


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Kenya Local Customs

Reviews and photos of Kenya local customs posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Kenya sightseeing.
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