Kenya is a multilingual country. The Bantu Swahili language and English, the latter of which was inherited from colonial rule (see British Kenya), are widely spoken as lingua franca. They serve as the two official working languages.
Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology focused on the study of cultural variation among humans and in contrast to the social anthropology perceives the cultural variation more as an independent "variable" than the dependent one.
A variety of methods, including participant observation, often called fieldwork because it involves the anthropologist spending an extended period of time at the research location, but also interviews and surveys are part of anthropological methodology.
The Maa languages are a group of closely related Eastern Nilotic languages (or from a linguistic perspective, dialects, as they appear to be mutually intelligible) spoken in parts of Kenya and Tanzania by more than a million speakers altogether. They are subdivided into North and South Maa. The Maa languages are related to the Lotuko languages spoken in South Sudan.
In the past, several peoples have abandoned their language in favor of a Maa language, usually following a period of intensive cultural and economic contact. Among peoples that have assimilated to Maa peoples are the Aasáx (Asa) and the Elmolo, former hunter-gatherers who spoke Cushitic languages, and the Mukogodo-Maasai (Yaaku), former bee-keepers and hunter-gatherers (Eastern Cushitic). The Akiek of northern Tanzania, speakers of a Southern Nilotic Kalenjin tongue, are under heavy influence from Maasai.
Ethnic groups in Africa number in the hundreds, each generally having its own language (or dialect of a language) and culture.
Many ethnic groups and nations of Sub-Saharan Africa qualify, although some groups are of a size larger than a tribal society. These mostly originate with the Sahelian kingdoms of the medieval period, such as that of the Akan, deriving from Bonoman (11th century) then the Kingdom of Ashanti (17th century).
The Samburu are a Nilotic people of north-central Kenya that are related to but distinct from the Maasai. The Samburu are semi-nomadic pastoralists who herd mainly cattle but also keep sheep, goats and camels. The name they use for themselves is Lokop or Loikop, a term which may have a variety of meanings which Samburu themselves do not agree on. Many assert that it refers to them as "owners of the land" ("lo" refers to ownership, "nkop" is land) though others present a very different interpretation of the term. The Samburu speak Samburu, which is a Nilo-Saharan language. There are many game parks in the area, one of the most well known is Samburu National Reserve.
Nilotic peoples or Nilotes refers to related ethnic groups mainly inhabiting the Nile Valley, the African Great Lakes region, and southwestern Ethiopia, who speak Nilotic languages, a large sub-group of the Nilo-Saharan languages. These include the Kalenjin, Luo, Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Ateker and the Maa-speaking peoples, all of which are clusters of several ethnic groups.
Nilotes form the majority of the population in South Sudan, an area that is believed to be their original point of dispersal. They also today constitute the second-largest group of peoples inhabiting the African Great Lakes region (after the Bantu peoples), with a notable presence in southwestern Ethiopia as well. Most Nilotes practice pastoralism, and some tribes are also known for a tradition of cattle raiding. As with some Bantu groups, Nilotes in East Africa have through interaction adopted many customs and practices from neighboring Southern Cushitic groups. The latter include the age set system of social organization, circumcision, and vocabulary terms.
Nomadic pastoralism is a form of pastoralism where livestock are herded in order to find fresh pastures on which to graze following an irregular pattern of movement. This is in contrast with transhumance where seasonal pastures are fixed. The herded livestock include cattle, yaks, sheep, goats, reindeer, horses, donkeys or camels, or mixtures of species. Nomadic pastoralism is commonly practised in regions with little arable land, typically in the developing world. Of the estimated 30–40 million nomadic pastoralists worldwide, most are found in central Asia and the Sahel region of West Africa. Increasing numbers of stock may lead to overgrazing of the area and desertification if lands are not allowed to fully recover between one grazing period and the next. Increased enclosure and fencing of land has reduced the amount of land available for this practice.
Kenya is a multi-ethnic state in the southern Great Lakes region of East Africa. It is primarily inhabited by Bantu and Nilotic populations, with some Cushitic ethnic minorities in the north. Its total population is estimated at 41 million inhabitants as of 2011.
A national census was conducted in 1999, but its final results were never released. A new census was undertaken in 2009, but it turned out to be controversial, as the questions about ethnic affiliation seemed inappropriate after the ethnic violence of the previous year. Preliminary results of the census were published in 2010.