Live Like a Kenyan

Below are some common fun stereotypes about Kenyans and their ethnicity…(not to be tribalistic or anything). These stereotypes normally come up either because of the people’s cultures, economic activities or even how they interacted with the colonialists. Whereas some Kenyans maybe known to have great athletic ability, others are regarded as agile business people, traders and so on…Here are some fun stereotypes for you (true or not).

The Kikuyu

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Everyone has heard the one about Kikuyu women. How they plait their hair, read a novel or knit and placidly inform their partners to cover them when they are through with their business. If one day you return home to find an empty house and your children gone, then you are in the groove with a Kikuyu. They are known to be “packers”. They will pack and go with the children and furniture after 40 years of hard labor on a marriage. A common saying goes “A Kikuyu woman will treat you like a king as long as you have cash, but toss you like rotten mutura (traditional sausage) once you are broke.”

Cynics say Kiambu women are so materialistic! They will kill their marriages to enjoy the wealth alone. One Kikuyu lady coined the following phrases to her defense, “I would rather cry on a Mercedes than laugh on a bicycle. Money is not everything it is the only thing.” But Lydia Wambui comes to her sisters’ defense. “Everyone loves money. You cannot go to your landlord or the headmaster at your children’s school and say, ‘we are in love, please understand us for not paying.’ Love is no substitute for money.” Wags also poke fun at the culinary skills of Kikuyu women. They will mix rice, arrow roots,  sukuma wiki, potatoes, githeri and all imaginable ingredients in one pot. Their men have to always sneak out to enjoy nyama choma or chapati in a smoke-filled joint on their own.

They say all women are said to be schemers but the Kikuyu have perfected it to an art. On the first date, they have you all sized up. Wallet size, level of education, future ambitions. So by the second date, you will be paying their rent.

The Nyeri ones are fabled to be harsh and authoritative. If you have the bad fortune of marrying one, chances of being her punching bag are inevitable. They are the Thatcher’s of Wahome Mutahi fame. Rivals in love will also dismiss them on account of their figures. Below five inches in height, light complexioned, round pretty face with long lovely hair, over-sized chests, voluminous hands, flabby waist lines, ironed out behind, vertical hips all suspended on hockey-sticks-like legs.

They are known to have an undying thirst for white shoes.

Yet even their hottest critics acknowledge that they are so hard-working and organized that their men only come home in the evening to collect cash for their drinking sprees.

Men
The Kikuyu man walks eats and dream more plots, matatus and company shares. The ambitious and hard-working nature of these men dates back to the Wangu wa Makeri era. You are on your own after they give you a ‘mugunda’ a plot.

And most people must have heard the joke about the Kamau’s coming for your hard-earned money in the middle of the night. All the vices such as muggings, carjackings etc are believed to be their preserve.

It does not matter how far the economic ladder a Kikuyu man is, he will always have some “deals” in the name of business. Often these deals will be hatched and sealed in a smoke-filled bar.

But if you think he will have extra money to take you to some posh place, forget it. They are said to be so stingy that they believe leisure and expensive food is for fools. A typical Kikuyu man’s luxury car is a pick-up, and he believes you relax in the countryside weeding your shamba, not frolicking on the beach in Mombasa . Because of this, women think they are unromantic and dull. Their perfect date is taking a woman to dance to Mugithi while you eat nyama choma and mutura.

They also love moving in cliques and speaking their mother tongue everywhere even if you, a non-Kikuyu does not understand their language. Women say Kikuyu men assume that all light-skinned women are from their tribe. So they will talk to you in their mother tongue. If you express displeasure, they will sneer and tell you “wacha kujiringa!”

Then they are known to have parallel families. Word has it that a Kikuyu man will not marry a second wife, but will have mistress or two tucked away somewhere. It is only when he dies, that the other family surfaces. The joke is that, your kids and those of the mistress will have been born at the same time. If you have four children, she will also have her four. If you are thinking of ignoring the mother-in-law, then steer clear of this man. Kikuyu men are mama’s boys. So the way to his heart, is through his mother.

They are also said to be poor dressers and lack refined mannerisms. A must-have in every Kikuyu man’s wardrobe includes Savco and Freezer jeans preferably brown, Chicago Bulls T-shirts, North star sneakers and an over-sized leather jacket.

The Kamba

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The myth of the sex athlete goes back a long way. Kamba women are known to be a force to reckon with. That is why they are hot material for barmaids. By the time she is 30, she is in total control. It is said that they are given a thorough briefing by their aunts and grandmothers as part of their initiation rituals. And yes, many of these women are unbelievably stunning in looks. She gives you a killer smile, giggles knowingly, and you want to marry her there and then. So why do Kamba women marry in the military? Army men’s weddings are full of glamour and endless feasts. They also love celebrity. However, for them, serious business is popping up juniors year after year.

And if you want to feed numerous dependents, then marry a Kamba. By your third date, her cousins, grandparents, sister’s boyfriend…are on your miserable payroll. And of course there’s the joke about colour clashing. You know, a mix of screaming orange and luminous green is a God sent match for them.

Men
Like their women, Kamba men are said to be athletes of sorts. Kamba men are born and bred to follow instructions. Starting from their mothers to their employers. For this reason, they make perfect domestic workers and messengers.

They are dismissed as being clueless about their future, their only ambition being to work in the army or at least get related to someone in the army through marriage. Kamba men have small features, which people say is because of the persistent droughts in their motherland. But if you were thinking that this would give you express liberty to be unfaithful, then forget it, they make jealous spouses and can be extremely possessive.

The Coastal People

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A police friend once informed me that their officers are given a firm warning when they get transfers to the Coast. You will need all your wit and guile to resist the coconut women. Love potions come in handy. Once the man is fixed with it, he is transfixed to her for life. You are her boi (boy) eternally. Critics say these women are so idle that they spend the whole day applying henna all over their bodies, prepare elaborate weddings and cook biryani the whole day as they gossip.

Stories have it that these women are well coached in the art of pleasing their husbands. No one understands better that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – chapatis and pilau (which they are experts in making) do the job. On the looks department they are endowed with dashing looks and mellow voices. The Taita are said to make exemplary, humble wives. But when they make up their minds that a relationship is headed for doom, they are known to vanish back to their parent’s faster than you can say ‘mdawida’.

Men
Coastal men are said to be smooth talkers but lazy to the bone. For any hard labor, look for a ‘mtu wa bara.’ With their mastery of the Kiswahili language, they can even talk Osama from his hideout.

They are the classic example of what a gentleman is supposed to be. With their use of flattery, and their love for speaking in low, husky tones, many women confess to being transfixed to the Swahili man. But in the words of one lady, “they talk too much; like they have swallowed a tape.”

The Taita are most humble. They fancy cooking mouth-watering dishes for their women. However, their Swahili counterparts are said to love living off the sweat of their women. And they are betrothed from birth.

The Luo

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Lakeside women are said to stick to their men like glue as long as they suspect love is in the air. But don’t you dare look at another woman! If you do, she will have you and the other woman by the neck. They are in love with first impressions. You have to have class.

If you wear moccasins on the first date and drive a pick-up, she will dump you like rotten fruit. And you better talk English (never Kiswahili) with a rounded twang. Big words (especially the ones she does not understand) make a lifelong impact. And the restaurant better be classy, not necessarily expensive. If you fulfill all these, by the tenth date, you will spot her clothes in your wardrobe. She has moved in.

Luo women are prided to have “drop dead gorgeous” bodies – with ‘Adhiambo sianda’ being their brand name. True African figures, they say. They are also known to be good cooks and bewitching lovers.

Men
Luo men are said to be romantic lovers and big spenders when they have the money. Whether it’s shopping in Dubai, being taken to posh restaurants or flying you off to some exciting location, the man to give you a good time is a Luo man.

Women are unanimous that these men from the lake will treat a lady like a queen, but only as long as a lighter complexioned woman does not emerge on the scene because then you will immediately be past tense. No wonder all Luo songs sing of ‘kalando’ (the brown one.)

Bar room chat is rife on the suave flamboyance and extravagance of a Luo man. For this man, tomorrow is a long way off. Life must be lived to the fullest today. Spending all his money on a cool Mercedes and parking it outside a grass-thatched hut in the village means nothing to this man. The important thing is to be seen driving the car.

When it comes to courtship a Luo man will not stammer in shyness when he approaches the woman he wants to be acquainted with and will not bat an eyelid when promising a non-existent heaven. He will insist on speaking to you in English because he cannot converse in Kiswahili.

They dress in flashy, expensive suits, shoes and ties. They will talk about their attractive young wife, the last trip overseas, the expensive car, furniture, electronics and mobile phones that they own. Listen to Poxi Presha’s ‘Otonglo time’ and the famous “Do I say line” will tell you everything you want to know.

Many Luo men from the older generation love old Lingala music and football. The younger ones love cricket and rugby. Cricket because it is still a mystery to many Kenyans and rugby because of the macho image.

It does not matter how vast your experience or how much wealth you have, without a degree, you are nobody. Count the number of professors from this tribe at any of our universities and you will know what I’m talking about.

But despite all this, a Luo man will not think of investing his money in anything substantive. Women from other tribes believe that even if he marries a non-Luo, this man will eventually marry from his tribe.

The Luhya

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These women are known to be modest and to have austerity. They cannot stand extravagance. A Luhya woman would rather stay at home and drink numerous cups of tea than have you take her for an expensive dinner. But as long as there is constant supply of ugali and Ingoho (chicken), she is yours for keeps. Then they are known to be in the business of making children. If she is not breast-feeding, she is pregnant.

The Internet caricature paints her as a being born-again, and forever busy. She is the village chairperson, treasurer of your kids kindergarten PTA, secretary of the women merry-go-round, weaves baskets in addition to being out every night for church Keshas. And if you are thinking of meeting the boys over a Tusker…then this is the wrong type. Luhya ladies are protective. And with their strong physiques, you would rather follow mummy’s advice than have your bones broken.

Curly kit hair is their distinctive look. They love it so much that every Luhya woman who prides herself as having a distinguished style will have her hair roasted for this look.

Men
Though hard-working especially manually, Luhya men are said to be very content with what they have. Their rivals say this is lack of ambition. That is why the shamba boys, watchmen and cooks joke comes from.

Those in the know say the Ingoho (chicken) men are intimidated by the modern woman. They’d rather marry a girl from the village who is happy to stay-at-home. But if you get married to the man, be ready to take care of his children from his teenage days to date.
Luhya men never leave their children behind. In addition, you will always have a full house. These men have many dependents. So start by investing in many utensils and big sufurias.

Unlike many men, you can always tell if a Luhya man is unfaithful. If he has not brought home a child from an illicit affair in five years, then relax, the man is an angel. And if you do not want to have a live-in mother-in-law, learn to cook ugali and mrenda before you marry this man. If you cook him rice or githeri for supper, he will still be waiting for dinner. The one about Luhyas and their addiction to salaams clubs and small portable radios is an old cliche now.

The Kalenjin

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My colleague informs me, that if you are bombarded with unsolicited information about her many prominent and rich relatives in the previous government, right after the first kiss, then you have nabbed a Kalenjin lady. Promise a Kalenjin woman marriage and she is yours for keeps. If you play your cards right then you can take her home on the second date.

Strictly missionary. They are agreeable and submissive, but rather like their alcohol. Nagging they are not, but their tempers are legendary so why do they say if you come home after three days, smelling of a strange perfume and with red lipstick all over your white shirt, a kalenjin woman will not utter a word?

If they discover their man is unfaithful, they will kill themselves and drown the children. Kalenjins like to joke that Nandi women are lazy, Tugen are rude and the Marakwet violent.

Men
If you are looking for a generous man then look no further. A Kalenjin man will be elated to spend his money on any lady and her extended family. For them, expensive is best. The joke doing the rounds is that if a Kalenjin man takes a lady shopping, he will beseech her to select the most expensive dress in the shop. They are also said to be very cold and remote. They always manage to look vague when so much is happening around them. But this does not hinder them from the desire to date classy women.

It is said that Kalenjin men have misplaced priorities. They will build a stone house for the combine harvester and the cows and surround their homes with beautiful fences while their houses are grass-thatched and mud-walled.

Kalenjin men do not carry their spouses to town. They leave them in the rural home to look after the shamba.

Kaunda suits, preferably a maroon one and a cardigan worn with a suit is a must-have for any self-respecting Kalenjin man. Men from the Kipsigis sub-tribe are reputed to be quite handsome.

The Maasai 

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Maasai women are unquestionably obedient. They will never dream of correcting their men folk. They still view their husbands as “lord of the house” People believe Masaai men are still glued to the custom of planting spears outside their age group member’s manyattas to warn the husband that serious business is taking place inside the manyatta.

Their women toil like oxen. They build the manyattas; graze the cattle, cook, and farm in addition to rearing children. They are also generous with their husbands. Even if their husband married the 7th wife in three years, they will not object. In fact they encourage their spouses to marry – you know, to share the work. They can be astoundingly beautiful.

Men

Maasai men are said to be fierce, courageous but unreasonable. You do not argue with one because you will provoke him to a feud.

A Maasai man will do anything to marry a beautiful woman. However, to them, wives are lower in rank than children. You will find them playing ajua the whole day as they await the return of their wives and children from grazing the cattle.

For a Maasai man, serious business is getting an extra wife year after year.

The Kisii

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Once a Kisii woman has it in her head that you make her world rock, then you have a lifelong attachment. She will never leave, even if you hire ten bulldozers to evict her from your house. They are also well-known for their fiery tempers. Recent cases in the media about battered husbands involved Kisii women. As for money, they are the reverse of Kikuyus – money and posh cars do not impress them much. And when it comes to dressing? Those in the know say their dress sense is not the most impressive

Men
The description “tall, dark and handsome,” applies to the Kisii man.

They are also known to be charming when the fiery tempers take a back seat. But like all gorgeous men, they have several other women on the side apart from you.

They are said to be so emotional that they will cry as they are beating you up.

The Meru

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If you are head over heels in love with a woman and are sure she loves you secretly, but she is playing hard to get by the 30th date, then you have struck a Meru.

Bar room talk has the Meru woman so faithful and agreeable that they will fight divorce to the bitter end.

They are traditional and remote, with the village never coming out of them.

Like their men, they are reputed to be hot-tempered and can shred you to pieces if you cross their path. In the looks department, a Meru woman will hold her own against any beauty queen.

Men

For a die-hard Meru man, it is against taboo to enter the kitchen. He would rather starve to death than enter this domain which he believes to be strictly a woman’s.

A Meru man’s temper is unmistakable. If you dare to provoke him, he will very easily smash you to pieces.

No matter how well exposed or versed in the Queen’s English he is, the Meru accent will never go away.

They have an attitude problem and take everything personally. They are also said to be quite bossy in a relationship. What he says goes.

Source: Fans of Crazy Monday’s

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3 thoughts on “Live Like a Kenyan”

  1. quite a vast knowkedge you have there about your fellow kenyans.unteresting choice of words n good humour u have there though i believe that every tribe has the positive n negative attributes but for the kamba men n luhya women you have said nothing good abt them.for instance i believe its public knowlegde that wen it comes to beautiful bodies,the behinds that is,luhya women give luo women a run for their own money dont you think?

    1. Well boera, i think that observation is up for debate. A debate that if women from both tribes were to be engaged in will see no end hehe. But like you said, every tribe has its positive and negative attributes and that is the beauty of living in a country with so much diversity in culture; seeing people that couldn’t be more different live in such harmony.

  2. Hahaha. This post had me lauging from start to finish. Great read! I lived in Kenya for a few months in 2014 and I can testify that most of these stereotypes are true. Thanks for sharing! Great work!!

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