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 tribes, Kenya boasts a rich cultural diversity making it the best location for cultural tourism. Most of the cultural practices carried out in Kenya are generally not out of the ordinary but some are quite bizarre and border on insanity. The following is a list of 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 into 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 kilometres away.
Bullfighting – Luhya
Bullfighting is another weird culture practised by the Luhya community in western Kenya. The act 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 name suggests, bullfighting 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 bullfighting 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 the 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 the beating of drums, the bulls are usually charged to a frenzy and engage in a fight immediately the crowd gives way and they spot each other. This 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 best known for this activity. Night running usually borders on the bizarre as it generally entails an individual stripping naked and running for a 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. While night runners are not destructive, 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 no doubt, one of the weirdest in Kenya. During these ceremonies, the young men usually strip naked, put on a loincloth 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 weirdest 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 afterlife.