Kenya is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa. This can be largely attributed to its wildlife, sandy beaches and most of all diverse culture. Being home to 42 tribe, Kenya is home to a rich cultural diversity making it the best location for cultural tourism. Most of the cultural practices being practiced in Kenya are generally not out of the ordinary but some are quite bizarre and border on insanity. The following is a list of 5 weird Kenyan cultural practices
5 Bizarre Kenyan Cultural Practices
Funeral ceremonies – Luo Nyanza
Image courtesy of Luonyanza.com
The funeral ceremony of the Luo, a large tribe in western Kenya features prominently on the list of our weird Kenyan cultural practices. Better known as the mourning tribe of Kenya’, the Luo since time immemorial have commercialised funeral ceremonies and taken them to a whole different level.
Funerals within the luo community are generally exorbitant and are usually characterised by intense mourning and destruction of the deceased property by the mourners. The situation is usually further aggravated if the deceased was a wealthy man or a person of high standing within the community.
Immediately an individual passes on; relatives and friends would start streaming in to the deceased’s home loudly wailing and chanting dirges about the great acts of the deceased most of them non-existent. The mourners would generally do an impromptu lap around the compound before locating the kitchen and setting up permanent residence within close proximity to the kitchen so as to not miss out on the funeral festivities. In extreme instances, the mourners usually go to an extent of slaughtering the deceased’s livestock while loudly wailing of what use is the livestock if the deceased will not be there to drink the milk.
The clatter created during these ceremonies can generally be heard several kilometers away.
Bull fighting – Luhya
Bull fighting is another weird culture practiced by the luhya community in western Kenya. Bull fighting is considered as a form of sport by the luhya and is usually performed to honour visitors considered as being important or during special occasions. As the names suggests, bull fighting basically entails fighting between bulls with two or more bulls taking part in the sport. The number of bulls generally varies depending on the importance of the ceremony.
A typical bull fighting ceremony takes place in the early morning so as to pave way for the day’s activities as well as to avoid the midday sun. These ceremonies attract thousands of people and are characterised by beating of the isukuti’ drums, intense dancing by the crowd and taunting of the bulls so as to give them morale. The bulls, usually of gigantic proportions with markings on their bodies are directed to an open ground where the competition is to take place. Urged on by the crowd and beating of drums, the bulls are usually charged to a frenzy and charge immediately the crowd gives way and they spot each other. These weird Kenyan culture is currently being popularised by the Kenyan government as a tourist attraction
Night runners – kisii
Night running is also amongst the 5 weird cultural practices in Kenya. While night running is somehow prevalent in other communities within Kenya, the Kisiis are the best known for this activity. Night running usually borders on the bizarre as it generally entails an individual stripping naked and running for considerable distance during the night. It is believed that the night runners are normally possessed by spirits and are unaware of what they are doing. Night runners are not destructive but meeting one in the dead of the night is undoubtedly not a pleasant experience.
Circumcision Ceremony – Bukusu
The Bukusu circumcision ceremony is another cultural practice that is undoubtedly one of the weirdest in Kenya. During these ceremonies the young men usually strip naked, put on a loin cloth and paint their whole bodies with white chalk paste. They then start moving from one village to another while dancing and singing.
The teso community also features in our list of the most weird cultural practices in Kenya. The Teso generally bury their dead lying sideways with clasped palms underneath the cheeks. The body is then positioned such that it is facing the deceased homesteads. it is a common belief that placing the body in such a position will give the deceased peace of mind in the after life.