Colourful Traditions in Kenya You Shouldn’t Miss

Kenya is blessed with great variety and vividness and the country leaves you charmed for a lifetime each time you visit. It’s not possible to have enough of its cultural heritage, colourful festivals, and ancient traditions that are still practised today. Kenya is one of the countries that play an important role in preserving Africa’s diverse history.

We have made a list for you so that you can experience its real essence during your time in Kenya by exploring its vast collection of arts, music, dance, history, and heritage. Let’s take a look at what should be on your “to-do list” for your next trip to Kenya:

1)    Lake Turkana Festival

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This annual cultural festival brings 14 communities from Northern Kenya together. What a union! The celebration of rich cultures of the El Molo, Samburu, Gabbra, Rendile, Watta, Dasannach, and the Turkana all who live around the Jade Sea. They mingle, share narratives, showcase their artwork, wear traditional costumes and perform dances. The higher aim of the festival is to promote peace in the region. The festival is held in Loiyangalani, a small town, located on the south-eastern coast of Lake Turkana. It’s fast becoming a popular destination in Northern Kenya as Turkana villages and El Molo offer stunning cultural experiences to their visitors.

This festival is worth attending as you can enjoy the varieties of colours of traditions and discover hidden treasures of Lake Turkana. Book your tickets for June to experience this incredibly colourful festival.

2)    The Rusinga Cultural Festival

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Being one of Kenya’s must-attend cultural events where Abasuba culture is showcased over a two-day experience, the Rusinga Cultural Festival turns the island a more buzzing place. Don’t miss it if you want to witness the unique celebrations and traditions of Suba people to preserve their culture and language. Wrestling competitions, traditional dishes, boat races, and many more activities are held for the celebrations. It’s held on the last Thursday and Friday before Christmas on Rusinga Island. It’s an amazing opportunity to experience the traditions of Western Kenya.

3)    Maralal International Camel Derby

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This annual event is held midyear just outside of Maralal town. It’s Kenya’s best known and most prestigious camel race attracting competitors from all over the globe. The competition is fierce as many local professional camel racers come to compete each year. Camel racing, cycling, cultural performances by the Samburu people and many more! The city of Maralal becomes electric and entertaining during this period.

Camel Derby is one of the most celebrated festivals in Kenya to observe the semi-nomadic Samburu community. The Samburu are still very traditional and have not parted with old customs.

This great social event is a must-see during your visit to Kenya.

4)    Shela Hat Contest

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This contest aims to give both locals and visitors a fun opportunity to express their ingenuity and creativity. Since 2010, participants have paraded on Peponi Beach to show-off their extraordinary makeshift headwear.

How to protect yourself from the intense sunlight of Lamu? Workers in Shela Village started to make hats, improvising with the materials they found, let it be palm leaves, old cement bags, a chunk of coral stone or a length of pipe. That’s how the tradition started. Why not make your own Kenyan style hat after all?

5)    Staying at a Traditional Kenyan Hut/Homestead

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Kenyan huts serve as a window into the lifestyle that communities have developed over the last centuries. The method and the materials used to construct the huts vary a great deal from tribe to tribe, region to region and is influenced by the characteristics of the different local settings. The best choice of accommodation is no doubt these traditional huts for both locals and visitors. When in Kenya, why shouldn’t you try the traditional Kenyan lifestyle?

6)    Try the best local beer

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“Nchi Yangu Bia Yangu” meaning “my country, my beer” in Swahili, Tusker is more than just a beer. It’s a national emblem, an African experience in a bottle.

Many East Africans enjoy Tusker at room temperature, but we highly recommend you to ask for it “bari di Sana” (Swahili for “very cold”) to ensure you experience the beer’s unforgettably light and refreshing characteristics. It’s simply perfect especially for a warm day in the equatorial sun You just can’t miss it.

7)    Play Bao, the traditional board game, with locals

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Bao is the Swahili word for “board”. It’s a traditional mancala board game widely played in Kenya, and also in other East African Countries. The rules of Bao were only preserved by oral tradition which means you should watch some locals playing it and just jump in! Isn’t it a great way of experiencing the traditions of Kenya? Spend your afternoon sipping some tea and playing Bao, sounds like a lot of fun in a laid-back atmosphere, right?

Make sure you book your ticket in advance so that you can combine a few of these unique Kenyan experiences. If you have had any experiences or you want to share more on traditional aspects of Kenya, drop a line in the comment section below.  

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