Culture Preservation Kenya

kenya-culture-1.pngBeyond the soulful rhythm and vibrant clothing contrasting with endless aired savanna, there is a deeply rooted culturally purpose behind traditional Kenyan song and dance. Since ancient times it has been used as a form of communication and self-expression and is a way for Kenyans to stay connected to their ancestral heritage. In Kenyan culture, there are many different types of dance which all a carry a unique significance and purpose. These dances are performed at weddings, funerals, and special events. They can be done to welcome prominent people, to heal the sick, and to promote good weather. Dance represents major personal milestones and celebrates some of life’s happiest moments.

Though throughout time civilization has eroded the more traditional aspects of Kenyan life, several communities still perform their traditional dance such as the Mijikenda. "Mijikenda" in Swahili translates to nine tribes or families. This refers to the common ancestry of the Mijikenda people. Each sub-tribe speaks its own dialect of the Mijikenda language, but share a similar cultural background. The Giriama and the Digo are most dominant tribes along the Kenyan coast. The Kayamba, Kifudu, Gozi, Zandale, and Puredi are a few of the more widely known and practiced cultural dances. Kifudu is a funeral dance and is one of the most commonly performed traditional dances. This dance is typically performed by women, who are accompanied by male percussionists. Kifudu brings the communities together to send the spirits of loved ones to the ancestral realms. Its purpose is to show the love of community and symbolizes a good send off of those who have passed away.

Sometimes when CHOICE Humanitarian expedition groups arrive, they are able to watch and participate in a traditional Daruma dance, sometimes with students from a local primary school. This dance is performed to celebrate the arrival of new visitors and as a source of entertainment for the community. Children laugh and dance together in a circle wrapped in brightly colored floral kangas, with white paint dotting their face, arms, and legs. The children play makeshift instruments made from scraps of metal and plastic and sing songs about their tribe. Traditional Kenyan Music and dance reflect the warmth, happiness, and hospitality of Kenyan culture.  

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