Traditional Music and Cultures of Kenya
Kikuyu man on a Sunday afternoon (photo: Jens Finke)


traditional music & cultures of kenya

Karibuni - welcome to the Traditional Music and Cultures of Kenya, a multimedia encyclopaedia dedicated to Kenya's tribes and people. Twelve of a planned forty-two Kenyan tribes are currently covered in detail, each with extensive sections covering their history (written and oral), culture, society and customs, way of life, religion and cosmological beliefs, fables and legends, riddles and proverbs, and - of course - music and dance. The five hundred pages of text are accompanied by over two hundred and forty photographs and seven hours of music.

The great news, especially for those who have been following this site's (lack of) progress over the last few years, is that I finally saved up enough to fund the year of work required to complete this website. Updates will be coming fast and furiously throughout 2007, hopefully ending up with full coverage of each of Kenya's officially-recognized 42 tribes (plus those ignored or forgotten by the census) in something like 2000 pages, 1500 photos and at least 35 hours of music. Oh yes, we'll have some videos, too.

Right now, I'd like some help in two areas. Photographs and texts relating to any aspect of Kenya's traditional cultures are always welcome, and I'd also really appreciate some hints for setting up a database, initially for the site's new bibliography. It's got to be simple, but so far I've had no joy would be good to chat with a human about this, rather than trying to understand obtuse websites on the subject. So, if anyone has a working knowledge of php/mysql databases, please get in touch!

Lastly, seeing as I'll be recoding the site over the next month or so, if you want to suggest changes to this website's design, structure or useability, please let me know now rather than later.

That's it for now - do enjoy the site.

Jens Finke

Site news
last updated: 15 December 2006

Getting there, I promise... After one too many years of having the website unchanged (thanks to the need to work for a living, rather than indulge my passion for this website), the great news is that I've finally managed to save up enough money to be able to spend all of next year getting it on with the site's long-delayed completion. Once the coding behind the scenes has been given a revamp (primarily to separate coding from content to ease the updating or adding of pages), first in line are probably the sections on Luo, Luhya, Mijikenda, Kalenjin and Borana. Things should be moving pretty quickly from January onwards, with updates posted every week or so.
  Of course, it's an enormous project, and help is always welcome - especially information about your own kabila, be it history, recollections about babu or bibi, proverbs and riddles, descriptions of ngomas, photographs or whatever, especially for makabila not already featured on the site. Remember that all Kenya's tribes will eventually be featured, so the more the merrier.
  Lastly, a sincere asanteni sana to all those who have written me with words of encouragement, whether by email or on the site's former guest book (sadly spammed into oblivion; I may implement a moderated one in future). It's always a pleasure to receive feedback, and all in all makes me all the more eager to get on with work on the site's completion. Pole pole, but we will get there!

New pages The Kenyan internet links page has been completely updated; there are many more (always useful!) links than previously, all fully reviewed, and of course they all work. Or at least they did this morning. Other new pages: thanks to David Akombo for letting me reproduce his thought-provoking paper Use of Drumming as Cure for Children with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and to Brandon Judge for his outstanding thesis about The Ngoma Healing Ritual of the Taita People. Both are housed in the section about Kenya's Taita tribe. On the technical side, the help page for playing the sound clips has been thoroughly revised, although additional feedback - especially from Mac and Linux users - is still very welcome. Lastly, continuing apologies to Brandon, Hans, David and the Muellers for being so slow in uploading their new material (especially the sound and video clips, for which I'm hugely grateful) - it will be done, all in good time, so please just a tiny little bit more patience! Thanks.

Coming soon Coming up soon is a brand new tribal section about Kenya's Mijikenda - Kenya's "Nine Tribes" - who comprise the Chonyi, Digo, Duruma, Giriama, Jibana, Kambe, Kauma, Rabai and Ribe tribes. It will include a welter of hitherto unpublished material about Shungwaya, that much revered and still very mysterious Somali homeland of several Kenyan tribes, including the Mijikenda, Taita, Pokomo and Segeju, and indeed some sections of Kenya's Central Bantu.
  Also in the pipeline is a page about the Mythical Beasts and Monsters of Kenya, starring Kenya's very own version of the Yeti/Bigfoot/Sasquatch, the Nandi Bear. Also featuring prominently will be the Little Men of Mbeere, the Red Men of Meru lore, the devils of Menengai Crater, the Glowing Lights (and curse) of Lake Turkana's South Island, and a liberal sprinkling of lake monsters, including Lake Nkunga's sacred seven-headed dragon, plus anything else I can lay my sticky paws on...
  Then there's a brand new 10,000-entry Kenyan bibliography to replace the 300-entry version currently online, many more photos (especially for those tribal sections currently under endowed, for instance the Meru, Gusii, Kuria and Rendille), and possibly even another tribal section... all well worth waiting for!

Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya
Copyright Jens Finke, 2000-2007

also by Jens Finke
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