Kenya Home


Kenya's folklore explain the meaning's of their cultural traditions.  Their legends recount the movement of people to and from the rift valley, into the highlands, the grasslands and the lake regions.  Famous historical figures such as the Kikuyu Gikuyu and Mumbi or the Luo culture hero Liongo are represented in myths and legends.  Myths include accounts of how cattle were given to certain tribes by God.  The Maasai have this legend, so when they went on cattle raids they were getting back what was rightfully theirs (Bentsen, 21).  The Kikuyu also have a similar story.  

Kenyan folktales try to answer etymological questions, such as relating the orgin of death to the reason why the hyena has a limp.  In many Kenyan cultures the message that men would not die was given to a chameleon, but the lizard was so slow that a bird got to man first.  The bird always ended up giving the message of death to the man.   

Folktales also recount the adventures of tricksters and con-artists.  In Kenya the trickster is usually represented by the story of the hare versus the tortoise.  The ogre is also a popular symbol of trickery and deceit.  The ogre is known to devour whole communities but is eventually vanquished by the actions of a brother and sister.  The brother or sister normally cuts the toe of the ogre and all the people the monster ate come out.    

World View & Cultural ClassificationTraditions, Holidays, Folklore, Myths*
Values, Proverbs & Language * Nonverbal Issues*Communication within Human Contexts * Communication within Economy Contexts*
Improving Intercultural Competence * Bibliography * Project Team

Cultural e-Résumés Home Course Home
E-mail questions or comments to
  January 26, 2001