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About Kenyan Bantu, Cushite and Nilote Largest Tribes

About Kenyan Bantu, Cushite and Nilote Largest Tribes

Tourism holds a significant place in Kenya’s economy along with agriculture with remains the backbone of the Kenyan economy for the Bantu, Cushite and Nilote tribal communities.


Kenya’s largest indigenous communities fit into three distinct ethnic tribal groups, Bantu, Cushite and Nilote.
Kenya’s largest indigenous communities fit into three distinct ethnic tribal groups, Bantu, Cushite and Nilote. 


About the Kenyan Bantu, Cushite and Nilote Largest Ethnic Tribal Communities

Kenya’s largest indigenous communities fit into three distinct ethnic tribal groups, Bantu, Cushite and Nilote. Some speak the official Kenyan languages of English and Swahili while still retain their indigenous languages.

Who are The Kenyan Bantus Tribes

The Bantu ethnic group is the largest ethnic community in Kenya. They make up about 70 percent of the country's population, but they occupy less than 30 percent of the Kenyan land base. The Bantu people in Kenya live mainly in the coastal, central, western and eastern regions of the country. The Kikuyu tribe forms Kenya's largest single ethnic group.

Their closest kin is the Embu and Meru tribes. These are followed closely by the Luhya, who live in Western Kenya, the Kamba people of Eastern Kenya, the Kisii tribe from the Rift Valley region, and the Swahili, Taita and Mijikenda people from Kenya's coast.

Unlike the Nilotes, rural Bantus are agriculturalists who grow much of Kenya's cash crops, including the popular Kenya coffee, tea and other agricultural products such as maize, beans, rice, and sugar.

Who are The Kenyan Cushites Tribes

Cushites, or Cushitic people, live in the arid and semi-arid eastern and northeastern parts of Kenya. They reside along a very large area of land that runs from the east of Lake Turkana, stretches to the north of Kenya, and through to the Indian Ocean. 

Cushites include the Somali, Rendile, Borana and Oromo tribes. Due to the dryness of their habitat throughout most of the year, Cushites are mainly nomadic pastoralists who keep large herds of cattle, camels, goats, and sheep. Cushitic people maintain very close ties with their kinsmen - the Cushites of the neighboring countries of Somalia and Ethiopia.

Who are The Kenyan Nilotes Tribes

Kenyan Nilotes reside in the broad Rift Valley region of Kenya, around Lake Victoria. They are comprised of three distinct groups: the River Lake Nilotes; the Luo, who live along Lake Victoria and practice fishing; and the plain Nilotes, who include the Maasai, Samburu, and Turkana people.

The plain Nilotes are pastoral tribes who have defied modern trends to retain most of their traditional ways of life. They mainly reside in the Rift Valley where they practice nomadic pastoralism.

The plain Nilotes roam from one part of their territory to another in resonance with the rainfall and in search of water and fresh food for their large herds. The Highland Nilotes are the Kalenjin people who live in Kenya's Western Highlands. Due to their geographical positioning and good climatic condition, the Kalenjins are able to practice both pastoralism and agriculture.

Did you know?
Kenya's other, smaller tribes are independent or sub-tribes of the larger tribes. Just like the large tribes, Bantu, Cushite and Nilote, each of Kenya's small tribes are culturally unique.

These tribes are spread out across the country, residing in different parts of Kenya. However, the population of Kenya is heavily concentrated in the west along the shore of Lake Victoria.

The other areas of high density include the capital of Nairobi, and in the southeast along the Indian Ocean coast.

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