42 Tribes of Kenya


 Kenya has three ethnic groups, namely: the Bantus, the Cushites and the Nilotes.

The Bantus

The Bantu ethnic group is the largest ethnic community in Kenya. They make up about 70 percent of the country’s population. 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 are 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.

Bantus are agriculturalists who grow much of Kenya’s cash crops like coffee, tea and other agricultural products such as maize, beans, rice, and sugar.

The Cushites

They 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 Orma 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.

The Nilotes

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.

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.

In summary

  1. Luhya
  2. Kikuyu
  3. Kamba
  4. Luo
  5. Embu
  6. Kisii
  7. Kalenjin
  8. Tharaka
  9. Basuba
  10. Kuria
  11. Teso
  12. Maasai
  13. Mbeere
  14. Turkana
  15. Taita
  16. Samburu
  17. Taveta
  18. Gabra
  19. Mijikenda
  20. Meru
  21. Swahili
  22. Ilchamus
  23. Borana
  24. Burji
  25. Nubi
  26. Galla
  27. Gosha
  28. Dasenach
  29. Orma
  30. Konso
  31. Rendile
  32. Waat
  33. Sakuye
  34. Galjeel
  35. Leysan
  36. Isaak
  37. Walwana
  38. Kenyan Somali
  39. Kenyan Americans
  40. Kenyan Europeans
  41. Kenyan Arabs
  42. Kenyan Asians

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