List of all main Tribes in Kenya in 2020

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Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) regularly monitors the list of tribes in Kenya. Even though Kenya among the most multi-ethnic states in East Africa, only a few tribes dominate its total population. Bantu and Nilotic tribes take a lion share in ethnic representation across the country. Cushites and other independent tribes, on the other hand, play host to less populous tribes in Kenya.

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Kalenjin tribe in Kenya form part of the Nilotic ethnic group that resides in the country’s highlands. The tribe comprises 8 distinct groups with strong relations, dialects, and culture. These are the Kipsigis, Tugen, Marakwet, Pokot, Keiyo, Sabaot, Terik and Nandi. The tribe is renowned globally for its excellent record in multiple athletics competitions.

List of main Tribes in Kenya in 2020
List of Main Tribes in Kenya in 2020

Kalenjin tribe

The Kalenjin tribe is the fourth largest ethnic group in the country know for pastoralism and farming besides significant presence in both local and international athletics. Below is a breakdown of the Kalenjin community across the country on the list of all tribes in kenya.

  1. Kipsigis –Resides in Kericho, Kenya
  2. Marakwet -Cherangani Hills, Kenya
  3. Nandi –resides in Kapsabet, Kenya
  4. Keiyo – lives in Kerio Valley, Kenya
  5. Tugen -Baringo, Kenya
  6. Terik -Kakamega, and Nandi
  7. Pokot -Mount Elgon, Kenya
  8. Sabaot -Mount Elgon, Kenya

Dancing and music among the Kalenjin were related to crucial work events such as field digging, grinding corn and herding in the Kalenjin community. Flutes, drums, and horns were central Kalenjin music and dances.

Embu tribe

Comprising of about 1.5% of the Kenyan population, the Embu people reside in Embu district on the foothills of Mount Kenya.

With origins from Mwene-Ndega and his wife Nthara, Embu people initially occupied Runyenjes from whence they spread out to their current ancestral land. The tribe now speak the Embu dialect.

Embu people are fundamentally agrarian and firmly adhere to their customs and rituals as it is the case with other Bantu tribes.

The tribe grows maize, sorghum, millet, yams beans, and cassava. Some of the cash crops grown by Embu people include coffee, macadamia nuts, and tea.

Embu people also rear livestock. Before becoming Christians, Embu people believed in and prayed to Ngai, a traditional god residing at the top of Mount Kenya.

Kamba tribe

Kamba is the 5th largest tribe in the Kenya accounting for over 10 percent of Kenya’s population. The tribe’s mother tongue is Kikamba (Kamba).

The Kamba people are skillful in basketry and woodcarving. They are also excellent hunters, pastoralists, and farmers. During the pre-colonial period, Kamba participated in long-distance trade.

Family groups are central in the Kamba culture hence marriage and other rites of passage rank high in the community. Kamba children formerly named after specific event or time of their birth. A good number of Kamba are Christians, but a few still strongly hold onto their beliefs in traditional religious ways.

Kikuyu tribe

Kikuyu is one the largest Bantu tribes in Kenya making up to 22 percent of the country’s population. The Kikuyu, also known as Agikuyu or Gikuyu, wield massive economic and political influence in Kenya.

The tribe resides in central highlands and the fertile slopes of Mount Kenya that are perfect for the growth of coffee and tea.

Long before settling in the fertile volcanic land, Kikuyu shared with, traded with. and intermarried with their close neighbors the Masaai.

It was until the colonialists came in, that Kikuyu became frustrated, provoking a bloody war against the British who had grabbed most of their agricultural land. The war eventually earned Kenya her independence.

Kikuyu majorly resides in Muranga, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, and Kiambu. They formerly worshiped Ngai, whom they believed to reside at the top of Mount Kenya. The majority are now Christians.

The Kikuyu prepare excellent traditional dishes including Mukimo and githeri, cooked green vegetables, spinach, carrots and roast goat beef among others.

Luo Tribe

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The Luo community spreads wide in the east African community with a presence in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Congo, Sudan, and Uganda. The tribe comes third in the country for its population and express distinct dialects, skills, cultural practices, and values.

Unlike other tribes, Luos do not have a tradition of circumcising their males but instead used to remove 6 teeth from their lower jaw.

Wife inheritance among brothers and close relatives is part of the Luo culture. Luos have now embraced Christianity, but a few of them still hold to traditions such as rainmaking dances among other rituals. Urban Luos exhibit a sense of flamboyance in their lifestyle with eloquence in the English language. Besides sugarcane and cotton farming, Luos are skilled fishermen who take Ugali and fish as their staple food.

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Luos occupy major urban centers in the country besides having an enormous presence in: list

  1. Kisumu County
  2. Bondo Town
  3. Homabay County
  4. Bondo Town
  5. Southern Migori County
  6. Other parts of Lake Victoria

Masaai tribe

The Masaai tribe is undoubtedly one of the most reserved cultures in the country and has managed to hold onto its culture amidst the civilization and proliferation of the western culture in the country.

The tribe is now the most iconic symbol of Kenyan culture. Belonging to the Nilo-Saharan family, Masaai people communicate in Maa dialect and reside in southern Kenya and northern parts of Tanzania. Masaai raises young men in the warrior cultural practices, and customary laws essential for one to gain status as an elder.

Masaai people are nomadic people who stick to their traditional way of herding livestock.

The tribe measures a man’s wealth by counting his cattle and children. Masaai livelihood revolves around livestock which is their primary source of food.

Orma tribe

Orma people live in eastern Kenya mainly along the lower parts of Tana River. The tribe also occupy the southern parts of Somalia in lower and middle areas of Juba. The tribe identifies as semi-nomads. The tribe’s population is more than 80,000 people according to the recent statistical findings.

Rendille tribe

The group belong to the Cushitic-speaking ethnic community living in Kenya’s northern Eastern Province. Rendille is a word that translates to “Holders of the Stick of God.” The tribe has a reputable history in nomadism rearing camels, cattle, sheep, and goats.

Samburu tribe

The Samburu is a Nilotic tribe occupying the northern plains in Kenya. The group communicates in Maa language as with their Masaai counterparts. They also moves regularly in search of water and pasture for their animals.

The tribe has authentically kept their cultural practices with little influence in their lifestyles. Male circumcision is among the most regarded ritual celebration in the tribe.

Suba tribe

Suba people communicate in Suba language and are part of the Bantu community.

The tribe has immediate origins in Uganda later moving to occupy better parts of Mfangano and Rusinga islands. The tribe culture and dialects are influenced significantly by the Luo tribe, their immediate neighbors. Even then, the Suba people hold fast to their ancient identity in culture and dialect.

Kisii tribe

Also known as the Gusii, the Kisii ethnic group live in the Kisii highlands and sections of western Kenya. The tribe occupies two counties (Kisii county and Nyamira county).

Kisii land supports vibrant agricultural practices thanks to its fertility and the adequate rain in the region. The tribe takes the 6th position as the largest ethnic group with about 7 percent of the country’s population.

The Kisii people communicate in the Ekegusii mother tongue which has a close association with the Meru dialect. Kisii ethnic group is one of the local tribes that have excelled in varied commercial activities.

Some of the cash crops grown in the region include coffee, bananas, pyrethrum, and tea.

The Kisii are well known for soapstone carvings, pottery, and basketry. Kisii people believed in and worshiped Engoro as their god. Over three-quarters of Kisii people are Christians with a few sticking to traditional religions.

Kuria tribe

Popularly known as Abakuria, the tribe inhabits a part of Kenya and Tanzania along the border. The tribe has an array of clans (Ibiaro) also called sub-tribes.

Even then, the variations between these clans regarding dialects and cultural practices are minor. The tribe occupies the southern parts of Nyanza, Kenya.

Kuria’s population was estimated at 609,000 in the year 2006. About 174,000 Kuria live in Kenya with 435,000 more living in Tanzania.

The Kuria people are closely related to the Kisiis both in their physique and dialect. The two tribes are known to have a shared history until the Masaai attack spread them into two distinct groups.

The spread of the community later saw them form unique dialects and cultures despite their original similarities.

Kuria now has about 16 sub-tribes including the Bakira, Nyabasi, Bagumbe, and Bairege who reside in Tanzania.

The Batimbaru, Bakenye, Bamerani, Baikoma, and Banyamongo, on the other hand, live in Kenya along with several other sub tribes forming the Kuria community.

Kuria people have borrowed a lot of cultural practices from the Luo owing to their proximity to the tribe.

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Kuria people are mainly agrarians with excellent pastoralism skills. Kurias occupying Serengeti district are strictly pastoralists.

 Ameru Tribe

Ameru is one of the ethnic tribes in Kenya residing on the northeastern slopes of Mount Kenya. Like several other Bantu ethnic groups, Meru land sits on vibrant agricultural land. As such, the Ameru people are primarily agrarians practicing crop farming and controlled animal rearing. The Meru tribe is further divided into:

  • Igembe
  • Tigania
  • Imenti
  • Igoji
  • Muthambi
  • Chuka
  • Mwimbi
  • Tharaka
  • Miutuni

 Luhya tribe

The Luhya people also called Baluhya, Abaluyia, or Abaluhya are the second largest tribe in the country.

The tribe occupies the fertile and well watered western region of Kenya that is perfect for agricultural practices. The tribe neighbors the Luo, Kalenjin, Teso, and Masaai. Coming closely after the Kikuyu tribe in numbers, Luhya people constitute of about 14 percent of the country’s population. The Abaluhyia tribe has 18 sub tribes with the Maragoli and the Bukusu dominating in numbers. Other subtribes include:

  • Khayo
  • Marachi
  • Kisa
  • Isukha
  • Idakho
  • Batsotso
  • Banyore
  • Gisu
  • Banyala
  • Marama
  • Tachoni
  • Wanga
  • Tiriki
  • Samia

Bullfighting reserves as an iconic sport in the tribe while traditional circumcision ceremonies are still a huge sensation in the region. The Luhya people growth various cash crops including sugarcane and use Ugali as a staple meal .

Mijikenda tribe

Mijikenda is a Bantu ethnic group residing in the coastal region with about 9 sub-tribes who share common cultural practices and language. Previous called Nyika tribe (bush people), the tribe later changed its name to Mijikenda a Swahili derogatory name for nine homesteads or simply nine homes. Each of the nine houses or sub-tribes communicate in Mijikenda language. Popular and dominant of the Mijikenda sub-tribes are the Digo and Giriama. The other homesteads include the:

  • Jibana
  • Rabai
  • Ribe
  • Kauma
  • Duruma
  • Kambe
  • Chonyi

The tribe is sometimes mistaken for Giriama as a whole. Close interaction between the Mijikenda Arabs, Persian and Portuguese traders later gave rise to the Swahili language and culture common along the coastline. Every sub tribe reserved a sacred place called Kaya for rituals and sacrifices. Mijikenda people practice agriculture as their primary economic activity. They grow crops such as coconut palm to obtain wine and oil extracts. The tribesmen are skillful in making mats, roofing, and baskets among other weaved products.

Swahili tribe

Swahili people form part of the Bantu community distinctly identifies in east Africa. A better part of Swahili language has origins in the Arabic dialect. Bantu language also plays a crucial role in the constitution of the Swahili language. Swahili art has significant influences from Arabic and expresses through jewelry, carpets, porcelain, and rugs.

Taita tribe

Taita tribe reside in Taita hills in the southwestern parts of Kenya along Tanzanian border and are renown gemstone miners. The tribe identifies with Christianity and Muslim with a few people observing traditions such as respect for the dead and male circumcision rituals.

Taveta tribe

Taveta people occupy the land between Tsavo national park and Tanzania and communicate in Taveta language

Turkana tribe

The Turkana belong to the Nilotic community and are native in Turkana District found in northwestern Kenya.

Gabra tribe

This tribe lives in Chalbi desert found in Northern parts of Kenya as camel-herding nomads. The tribe is closely related to the Borana and are part of the Oromo people.

Mbeere tribe

Mbeere people belong to the Bantu ethnic group and majorly inhabit in Kenya’s Eastern province. The tribe communicates in the Kimbeere dialect that has a close resemblance to kikuyu and Embu languages. The tribe has a number of Kenya’s favorite destinations including Gitaru, Kamburu, Masinga, Kiambere, and Kindaruma dams. Other places of interest in the region include Kiangombe Mountain and Mwea National Reserve.

Kenyan Asian tribe

Recently recognized as a tribe in the country, Asian is one of the new tribes in Kenya to receive such a significant recognition by the government of Kenya in President Uhuru’s regime.

The Asian community represents the significant descendants of Kenya-Uganda railway builders brought to the country as laborers. The people of the tribe are considered as successful commercial pioneers in the country.

Kenyan European in tribes in Kenya

The tribe came to Kenya in the early 19th century and now recognizes as a tribe in the country.

Kenyan American

Americans of Kenyan descent are now a recognized tribe with an overwhelming population of about 95,000. Many Kenyan American persons reside in Washington, in the United States of America. Other tribesmen live in California, Maryland, Indiana, Texas, New York, North California, and Georgia.

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Dasenach tribe

Dasenach ethnic group occupy parts of Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya. The tribe has origins in Debub Omo Zone with a close proximity to Lake Turkana. Dasenach people are primarily agro pastoral with a noticeable entrepreneurial spirit.

Galjeel tribe

The tribe is one of the minority tribe often sidelined in national matters. The tribe is however recognized on the list of tribes.

Leysan tribe

The tribe comprises both Digil and Mirifle mainly resinding in Somali. The tribe also occupy a better part of eastern Kenya. The tribesmen are mostly nomadic pastoralists as well as agrarians.

Bulji tribe

Bulji is among the minority tribes that are growing fast and adding some modern twist to their otherwise rich traditions and entrepreneurial practices.


They reside in both Kenya and Uganda following ancient scramble and partition of Africa. It is a Nilotic tribe will close resemblance to Masaai, Turkana, and Samburu.

Kenyan Arabs tribe

In our list we cant forget the little known one of the tribes in kenya.

Kenyan Arabs live along the coastline in the Indian Ocean. It is historically attached to the Omani, Yemeni, and Persian traders who threaded the region ahead of colonization. Kenyan Arabs leads humble lives.

They resides both in Kenya and Uganda with origins in Sudan. Nubi people are common in urban setups that include Eldama-Ravine and Nairobi. There are about 16,000 Nubi people in Kenya with about 15,000 residing in Uganda. The Nubi strongly uphold their culture and have long maintained Sunni Islam religion despite influence from their neighbors.

Tharaka in the list of tribes

Tharaka tribe occupy Eastern Meru district, Eastern province, Kitui district and Embu district. A tenth of the Tharaka people reportedly live in urban setups while the rest lead busy lives in villages. Tharaka tribe is highly preservative and has managed to uphold its culture and traditions even with western influences. The tribesmen are agrarians mainly rearing goats, cows, cereals crops, sun flowers, and cotton. Tharaka people are also good businessmen. We can’t exclude them in our list of tribes in Kenya isn’t it?

IIchamus tribe

The IIchamus are pastoralists who later occupied Lake Baringo after enduring fierce clashes. As a result, the tribe is largely underdeveloped with wanting literacy levels. The IIchamus is a conservative tribe with industrious members who fish and rear animals hoping to better their lives.

Nubi tribe

They resides both in Kenya and Uganda with origins in Sudan. Nubi people are common in urban setups that include Eldama-Ravine and Nairobi. There are about 16,000 Nubi people in Kenya with about 15,000 residing in Uganda. The Nubi strongly uphold their culture and have long maintained Sunni Islam religion despite influence from their neighbors.

Njemps tribe

Njemps live in the southern and south eastern part of Lake Baringo with a population of about 40,000. The tribe culture and dialect closely takes after the Samburu. The tribe mainly depend on farming and fishing to earn a living.

Borana tribe

In the List is Borana which among the most innovative semi-nomadic tribes in Kenya living in northern and eastern Africa. The tribe practice pastoralism and shares a distinct history of conflicts over grazing land alongside other resources. Borana people occupy the barren northern Kenya region especially in Marsabit, moyale and Garissa districts. The tribe communicates in Oromo language and centers its economy on animals such as cows, sheep, and goats.

Galla tribe

Galla is a remarkable tribe mostly living in the east African region. The Galla are widely spread occupying eastern parts of Kenya.

Gosha tribe

Kenyan Gosha people are bilingual speaking in both Oromo language and Garre-Ajuuraan. The Gosha are largely conservative and practice the Islamic faith.

Konso tribe

The Konso tribe is also called Xonsita. The tribe comprise Cushitic speaking members and inhabit Kenya and South central Ethiopia.

Sakuye tribe

Sakuye is a semi-nomadic tribe residing in Isiolo and Marsabit counties. The tribesmen are pastoralists.

Waat tribe

Waat people speak in Oromo language and share much of their cultural practices with Orma and other Oromo affiliated groups.

Isaak tribe

Isaak is one of the Somali affiliated tribes marked with dense traditions and culture. Included in the list of tribes on kenya also.

Walwana tribes

We conclude our list of tribes with Walwana which is a vibrant tribe in kenya comprising of about 20,000 people.

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