Referring to the unique ways people from various ethnic and social groups in Kenya represent their experiences and act creatively, culture in Kenya is very much alive.
Significantly different for people living in rural and urban areas, culture in Kenya is in its infancy and it is only recently that Kenyans have learnt to appreciate their diverse and rich culture.
Culture in rural Kenya
Since most of the artwork and crafts showcased and sold in urban towns in Kenya are originally made in rural areas, perhaps rural Kenya has the greatest potential culturally. Nevertheless, this is far from the case since most of the culture is available primarily in urban Kenya. Various arts and crafts include:
- Hand-making baskets popularly known as Kiondosâ
- Hand-knitting mats and carpets made from coconut leaves and sisals
- Hand-weaving garments such as sweaters, baby socks, balaclavas, gloves, scarfs and duvets, etc.
- Pottery making
In addition to art, rural cultural activities also include:
- Singing and dancing during various ceremonies such as weddings, dowry-giving, circumcision, funerals and baby showers.
There is a thin distinction between work-time and spare-time in rural Kenya. You are more likely to find a woman making pots or baskets to sell during her spare time and spot a man chiseling away at a soapstone to make as artwork to sell in his free time.
Culture in urban Kenya
Urban culture in is an entirely different ball game. Characterized by diversity, culture in urban settings, such as Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret, is very much available.
Seeing a movie is seen as a cultural activity in Kenya and enjoyed principally among the middle to upper classes. Theatres located in major towns in Kenya include:
- Kitale Cinema & Snacks
- Century Cinemax Junction
- Planet Media Cinemas Westgate
- Starflix Prestige Plaza
- Fox Cineplex Sarit Centre
- Nyali Cinemax
- Fox Cineplex Capital Centre
- IMAX 20th Century
- Starflix Village Market
Museums and Art Galleries
Cultural centers such as Kenya National Archives, Kenya National Theaters and Bomas of Kenya, etc., showcase varying cultural artifacts and traditions of the 42 tribes of Kenya.
- Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art (RaMoMA)
- Diani Beach Art Gallery
- Fort Jesus
- Desert Meseum
- Mount Kenya Art Gallery
Although majority of Kenyans are not theatre-goers, and the theatre culture is lacking, there are cinema theatres showcasing at various urban towns for live theatre performances
Live acts and plays by local and international actors at Kenyan National Theaters and Alliance Francaise.
- Popular theatre performing groups are Phoenix Players and Heartstrings Ensemble.
- Theatres include
- Moons Cinema
- Embassy Cinema
- Nu-Metro (Kenya) Ltd
- Nyahururu Cinema, Indo African Theaters Ltd
- Odeon Cinema
- Lotus Cinema
- Kenya Cultural Center
- Pan-nep Cinema
- Indo African Theatres Ltd
- And Phoenix Players Ltd
Day or night there are concerts and live music available.
- Local and international music festivals. Popular music festival includes the afro-based Blankets & Wine, among others.
- Theme-night events that showcase varying traditions, music and food from various tribes such as mugithi night- (Kikuyu tribe), ramogi night (Luo), Nubian night (Nubi), coast night and Mulembe night (Luhya), etc.
- Each year, schools, colleges and universities have cultural programs, cultural weeks and drama festivals, where students present their cultural creativity in form of songs, dances, acting, chorals, oral narratives, paintings, fashion and designs.