List of Kenya Tribes – L to M

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The third page with short descriptions of Kenya tribes. Scroll down for the other pages.


The Luhya is a very large Kenya tribe, with more than 5 million people. It make up 14% of Kenya's population and is the second largest tribe (after the Kikuyu). There are up to 18 sub-groups within the tribe, making the tribe very diverse and wide-spread. They all speak their own dialects of the Luhya language. Their traditional territory is in the west of the country. This Kenyan tribe live in extended families, sometimes polygamous ones where the marriages are arranged. There are rituals for coming-of-age, but the biggest celebrations are for deaths. It was once the typical practice to mourn and celebrate for forty days when someone died. Today, the festivities are reduced to a week. - More about the Luhya tribe


The second largest tribe in Kenya (over 3 million people or 12% of the population). They are now settled farmers and also keep cattle. Their language is called Dholuo. They are famous for their egalitarian culture. In the 1920s their ruoth (leader) Odera Akang'o initiated the quick adoption of the Luo to the British life style.

Contrary to many other tribes, the Luo don’t practice ritual circumcision of males (which causes resistance among Kikuyu against a Luo President, because a 'real man' is of course circumcised!). Raila Odinga, the big challenger of President Kibaki, is a Luo and he succeeded in rallying many tribes against the dominating Kikuyu, which led to the election fraud and riots in December-January 2008. US Presidential candidate Barack Obama is partially of Luo descent too. - More about the Luo tribe


The Maragoli people are part of the larger Luhya tribe, and their 200 sq km territory is in western Kenya, just touching the eastern short of Lake Victoria. The size of this Kenya tribe is around 200,000. Their lush and hilly territory is suited to the farming lifestyle of the Maragoli. Agriculture consists of both subsistence and cash crops. Ritual circumcision is still a common practice for this Kenya tribe, taking place throughout a village every 10 years. Like the rest of the Luhya, the Maragoli hold cattle in high regard as wealth.


Part of the Luhya tribe, the Marama speak the Wanga dialect of the language, just like the Isukha do. Their territory is in western Kenya near the border with Uganda. They are unlike the Luhya tribe though, in that they do not practice male circumcision as an initiation ritual. Families are traditionally polygamous, and many of the Marama are Christians.


The most famous of the tribes in Kenya. They total about 1.3 million, half of who live in Kenya (1.5% of the population) and the other half in northern Tanzania. They are semi-nomadic and have largely kept their traditional life styles. Maasai always wear red, with a simple blue cloth underneath. Both women and men wear wooden bracelets, the women also jewellery. Their language is called Maa. Their society is patriarchic: the male elders keep communication with the Masai god (Enkai or Engai) and make the important decisions. - More about the Masai tribe


The north-eastern side of Mount Kenya is the home of the Meru tribe. Their population is about 1.5 million strong, with 7 sub-groups that all speak their own dialects of the Meru language. Meru folklore has confused scholars for years, as many of their myths are identical to the stories of the Old Testament. Society is patriarchal, with men in charge of leadership and the women in charge of the housework. Even so, the Meru have always been governed by elders elected fairly by vote. They are one of the only Kenya tribes to have a democratic system or rule in place before the country's colonial period. - More about the Meru tribe


Nine different Kenya tribes came together to create the Mijikenda, who migrated to Kenya 300 years ago. Their territory is along a heavily forested ridge in from the coast, and they hold their forests to be sacred. Conservationists are often interested in these lands because they have been untouched for centuries and contain many rare species. They are called "kaya forests", after the word for a Mijikenda villages, a kaya. Trade with the nearby Swahili is common, and the Mijikenda language is much like Swahili because of it. Their society is structured around age-sets, marked by initiation and other rituals of age. - More about the Mijikenda tribe

Related pages:

List of tribes - A to H
List of tribes - I to K

List of tribes - O to R

List of tribes - S

List of tribes - T to Z

Tribes in Kenya - Introduction

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