Culture: 5 Things You Should Never Do In Kenya

by Duke Magazine

Culture is a global phenomenon that describes the way of life of a people, regardless of tribe, language, skin tone, eye color, and descent. Africa is colorfully rich in complex culture with peculiarities to different pan-African countries. Narrowing it down to the East Africa, Kenyans have a multi-faceted cultural landscape with their high rate of hospitality. However, like any country, there are certain things you should not do or say in Kenya in a bid to forestall a squabble with the locals, and the awareness of these norms will also make your stay a better one.

When visiting a country, it is imperative to educate yourself on a few do’s and don’ts to assimilate easily with the locals. It makes moving around so easy, and many people are pleased to know your keen enthusiasm towards wanting to know something about them or their culture.

You are sure to have a good time on your safari adventure, or in a local café on the side of the street if you avoid doing these five things.

Image credit: Children of Hope

Refusing hospitality

Kenyans are groomed to be hospitable from birth as it is ingrained in their culture. It is not uncommon for any visitor to be offered food and drinks wherever they go. It will be in bad taste to refuse to have a bite or a drink, as many consider it rude. When you strike acquaintances, expect a random invitation to dinner or lunch at home or in restaurants with the determination not to turn the offer down. 

Image credit: African Budget Safaris

Not paying attention to what you buy

Kenya is blessed with beautiful wildlife and safaris, but sadly some of the animals there are endangered. So, buying hides from big cats, rhino horns and ivory from elephant tusks should be avoided, as you might be arrested for dealing with corrupt individuals. These dealers know it is illegal to sell these items in the open, so beware if you are approached on the street with such items.

Image credit: Laviye


There are some daring Kenyans out there, but most Kenyans are conservative, as what will be regarded as high fashion in many cities will be deemed inappropriate on the streets of Nairobi and other major cities. Do not get it twisted as well and underdress for events either.

You are sure to get some disapproving stares from conservative people who think you may be dressed inappropriately.

Image credit: Afrika news

Taking pictures without consent

The probability of meeting a Maasai Moran walking in the streets is high, according to a report by Culture Trip, and they are beautifully adorned in their traditional red shuka or robes and accessories that they are hard to miss.

The initial reaction of every tourist is to snap photos, however, the polite thing to do is ask before you do. Usually, they are proud to parade the streets in their regalia, but in order not to offend anyone, kindly ask before taking photos.

Image credit: 2 glimpse

Questioning people about their tribe

There are so many beautiful and unique tribes in Kenya and many people boast of their tribe, even though they would prefer to define themselves as Kenyans first.

This stems from the fact that there are several stereotypes engulfing many Kenyan tribes. So, when people are asked what tribe they belong to, they immediately think you are placing them under a stereotypical umbrella even when your question is genuine, and your intentions are pure.

Try generalizing questions pertaining to tribes by asking broader questions like, how many different tribes are in Kenya?

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