Country Overview – Kenya

Kenya – Cultural Background

Kenya, Africa is a beautiful country that is best known for its wildlife and diverse culture, but is also a land of significant poverty. Kenyan people do not have the same opportunities as people in the western world and constantly struggle to support and provide for themselves and their families. Kenya is on the coast of the Indian Ocean, which lies across the equator in east-central Africa (The World Factbook, 2007). Kenya has gone through many changes since gaining their independence in 1963 and has now developed the freedom of religion and speech (Index Mundi, 2013). Kenya is a multilingual country with the main languages being English and Swahili (Index Mundi, 2013). The 62 total languages consist of mainly tribal African languages but also include Asian and Middle-Eastern, which are spoken by descendants of foreign settlers (The World Factbook, 2007). The African languages come from three different language families- Nilotic languages, which are common in the west, Bantu languages, which are used in the center and southeast, and Cushitic languages, which are used in the northeast (Index Mundi, 2013).

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Kenya is not a homogenous country when it comes to ethnicity. Kenyans primarily belong to the Bantu, Nilotic, and Hamitic tribes. Approximately 13% of the Kenyan population consists of non-African descent such as European and Indian (The World Factbook, 2007). In addition, the Kenyan population tends not to be individualistic but rather group-oriented. For instance, the Bantu word “Harambee,” meaning, “to pull together,” essentially defines the people’s approach to life and their response to others (Africa Bureau, 1981). The people of Kenya truly embody the characteristics of role responsibility and community self-reliance. Since Kenya portrays a group-oriented culture, extended families are an important part of social structure, which includes relatives on both sides of the family and often clos…