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Traditions and Daily Life in Kenya

Traditions and Daily Life in Kenya

The population in general in Kenya is more diverse as compared to other African regions. In fact, the population in Kenya is divided into three primary language groups. Approximately two-thirds of Kenyans are part of the Bantu group, with most of the rest of the residents making up the Cushitic and Nilotic groups of the overall population. In addition to the native African population, there are also a number of ethnic groups that live in the region. These groups are often referred to as "Asians." For the most part, these other ethnic groups moved to the area from Pakistan and India. There are also European Kenyans, although the vast majority of the Europeans moved back to Europe or to southern Africa after Kenya achieved its independence from Great Britain.

Religion in Kenya

Although most of the Africans in Kenya consider themselves to be Roman Catholics, Protestants or Anglicans, there is actually no officially established state religion. Many of Kenya's religious connections and beliefs originated from missionary activities during the colonial times. Many Africans in Kenya also hold on to traditional beliefs as well. For example, natural phenomena, animals and objects from nature are often considered to be sacred, having a connection to God.

Traditional Ways of Life

If you visit Kenya or live there for a period of time, it's likely that you'll be struck with a sense of how important the traditional way of life is to the native people of Kenya. Throughout most of Kenya, the population is divided into scattered settlements. Regions in addition to common culture have traditionally determined ethnic groups or tribes. The people of Kenya have a strong sense of kinship. In fact, kinship, marriage and blood are very strong connecting factors. A family unit in Kenya can consist of the immediate family, in addition to the extended family along with their children. It's also not uncommon in Kenya for a man to have more than one wife. When this is the case, each wife generally has her own house, which is located within the same compound as the man's other wives. However, although the practice of a man having multiple wives still exists, it does tend to be somewhat less common today as compared to the past. Part of the reason for the decline in polygamy may be the influence of religion. It's also likely that economic factors have played a factor in its decline.

A village may consist of a single household compound or several combined household compounds. In addition to the individual houses, a compound also generally includes gardens, sheds, livestock areas, play areas for the children, family shrines and other family oriented features that are important to everyday life.

The Importance of Fire

Just as was the case in the past, fire continues to play an important role in traditional African societies. Members of a community use fire for a variety of ceremonial purposes, such as to purify crops. In addition to the obvious uses for the shared outdoor fireplace, many communities also have a "holy" fire that is used for ceremonial and religious purposes. Fire is looked upon as a great purifier, and is seen as a symbol of the entire death and resurrection process.

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