Wednesday, 24 September 2014

FACES OF KENYAN TOURISM

Home hosted tea picking activity
Globe-trotting is never complete without a special retreat in the beauty of the true Kenyan cultural experience that writes the story of a country rich in diversity and ambiance. Inclusive Holidays Africa continues to set the best standards for that special home stay in a typical Kenyan hinterland in the heart of the tea-growing Kericho, or at the foot of Mt. Kenya on a chilly morning milking while catching a glimpse of the phenomenal snow-capped mountain, awakening in the virgin rays of a sunrise in central Kenya.
Blending and being assimilated in a people's way of life is perhaps the best adventure, because it not only leaves nostalgic memories of a kind and hospitable people, but also captures the reality that the world is one beautiful global village, with so much to see and learn.

VISIT MAMA SARAH OBAMA FOUNDATION AND KOGELLO VILLAGE
Standing proud and tall in Western Kenya is Kogello village, the native home to Obama Siaya typical Luo village that narrates the story of a young boy, driven by determination to acquire education despite all the odds, and in the pursuit for this education bringing forth a man so powerful many years later; current President of the United States, Barack Obama.
President Barack Obama sharing a hearty moment with the granny Sarah
Kogelo Community village, Kogelo,  also known as Nyang’oma Kogelo, is a rural village in Alego - Siaya District, Nyanza Province, Kenya. It is located near the equator, 40 kilometers west-northwest of Kisumu City, and the county capital. Kisumu – Siaya road leads to Kogelo branching from Ng’iya junction. Barack Obama, Sr. is buried in the village. Some of their family members, including his paternal grandmother Mama Sarah Anyango Obama, still lives in the home. In Mama Sarah Obama’s home; you will find both the graves of Barack Obama Sr. and his father’s.
You will also find in the homestead Mama Sarah’s house, the security tents, visit the vegetable garden, the cattle Boma and sit under the big mango trees where Mama Sarah conducts interviews with visitors. You may choose to be party to Mama Sarah Obama Foundation, a charitable nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the education and welfare of disenfranchised children in order to help them successfully achieve their goals and have a better future.

BULL FIGHTING EVENTS OF WESTERN KENYA
The Luhya bull fighting is another beautiful face of Kenyan cultural tourism, done originally and with more cheer and colorful, not even like the heroic metadors of Spain.

Bull Fighting Event
Set near the beautiful kakamega Forest, the bull fighting events of Kakamega are a curious aspect of Luhya culture that happens several times a year, forming a crucial aspect of Luhya culture. Deep in the kakamega rain forest, the calls of primates are heard. Snakes slither by in sauntering slyness, while butterflies make their journeys beneath the forest roof in droves, forming beautiful clouds of multiple colors. Kakamega Forest is a pristine area of lush rain forest in Kenya, a remnant forest of the great forests of old in the Congo. Rare species of primates, including the red tailed monkey, butterflies and chameleons and bird life such as the Blue Turaco, snakes and reptiles make their homes beneath the verdant canopy of the rainforests. Nearby, the sounds of an excited crowd are heard: the bull fighting event of kakamega is about to begin.

The bull fighting events of kakamega happen in Sigalagala, which the local Luhya people call home. A roar of noise is heard from the gathering crowd of locals as they jeer and blow traditional horns. Two different villages are leading their bulls to an open field, with an Efi kuti bullfighting dance – drums and singers egg the bulls on down a dusty road to the open field where they will meet in battle. The two bulls, each representing a village, are fed traditional beer before being pitted against each other to battle it out for the pride of the two opposing villages. The bulls are provoked by the crowd and lock horns in fierce battle to the cries and of the jeers of the Luhya, until one finally flees and the victorious village is brought together in a victory lap of heightened celebration. The owner of the winning bull takes the prize money. Lasting anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, the bull fighting events in Kakamega occur several times a year and form a crucial aspect of the Luhya culture, reinforcing clan loyalty and communal pride. It is an age-old tradition. Bulls are a vital aspect of Luhya culture, and prize-fighters are highly respected in the village, pampered and showered with adoration and affection by the locals in preparation for the all-important show-down. The bullfights are followed by communal celebrations. This unusual activity is an extremely vibrant and interesting cultural spectacle that anyone will enjoy.

BUKUSU'S CIRCUMCISION CEREMONY
The Luhya culture is diverse, and very original just like it continues being told and retold every time the circumcision season of the Bukusu beckons. The Bukusu are from the Bantu speaking group and is one of the sub-tribes which constitutes the Luhyia community, the third largest tribe in Kenya after the Agikuyu and the Luo. They are mostly found in Western part of our country Kenya.
No eye blinking or shaking the boy should exhibit.
They are still holding to some of their traditions which, among them, the traditional rite of passage from childhood to adulthood-traditional circumcision ceremony called khukhwingila (which when translated means to enter).The whole process is one that is not void of cheer, from the time the young boy later to become a warrior in the Luhya community shows unwatered bravery to undergo this very important rite of passage. When a male boy feels that he is ready for the ceremony, he approaches his father who prepares the required materials that are necessary for the ceremony. These are a male bull or a he goat, traditional beer called kamalwa, the circumciser and a small house called Likombe for the boy.
Circumcision Ritual Passage
The boy then gets the jingles (chinyimba) ready. They are played by the boy as people sing and dance for him during the entire process called Khulanga (calling).The Bukusu circumcision ceremony is perhaps the greatest show of unwavering bravery and gallance, since before the actual cutting of the foreskin by the circumciser, there is not an iota of doubt that the candidate is the bravest of his age-group. He then leads his to the point where he is left to stand at hands akimbo. The circumciser cuts the boy. No eye blinking or shaking the boy should exhibit.

THE MAASAI COMMUNITY
Maasai Women Plastering their Traditional House
There are many ceremonies in the Maasai community and the most popular ones are Enkipaata, Emuratta, Eunoto, Eokoto e-kule, Enkang oo-nkiri, Orngesherr. The first boy's initiation is Enkipaata (pre-circumcision ceremony), and is organized by fathers of the new age set. Enkipaata can only happen, when the senior warriors are settled. This ceremony is the transition into a new age set. After enkipaata ceremony, boys are ready for the most important initiation known as Emuratare (circumcision)
Eunoto marks the status of a warrior transitioning to a senior warrior. This initiation also permits senior warriors to marry, which in turn prepares them to become future fathers.
The Maasai herd cattle, goats, and donkeys . Their wealth is proportional to the size of their herd, which lets them afford multiple wives.

Another fascinating face of cultural tourism in Kenya is the spectacular Lake Baringo. Lake Baringo is the traditional home of the Njemps people.
The Njemps are linguistically related to both the Maasai and the Samburu, and possibly genetically related to one, or both of these tribes. The Njemps have many clear cultural associations to both groups, and there are several theories as to their actual origin. One possibility is that the Njemps are descended from a Samburu clan known as the Il-Doigo, while another theory sees them as descendants of a Maasai clan driven out of the Laikipia area by inter-clan warfare. The Njemps often fish on the shore using nets and lines, and have no fear whatsoever of the lakes many crocodiles. Despite this, some attacks have been recorded, so visitors should not swim in the Lake. If you are visiting Baringo, you will pass by many Njemps villages while exploring the shores or Ol Kokwe island.
EL Molo Traditional Dance Group
Further north of Kenya you come across at least twelve ethnic communities among them the El Molo, Rendille, Samburu, Turkana, Dassanatch, Gabra, Burji, Borana, Konso, Sakuye, Garee,and Waata. The presentation of the customs and living conditions of the twelve tribes, their spectacular traditional costumes, arts and crafts, dances and music is a unique and fascinating experience.

 CHUKA DANCERS
Dramatic Chuka Dancers
Traditional Kenyan troupe of dancers continue to entertain visitors as well as preserve the rich folklore that has been passed from generations over. Among the most dramatic are the Chuka and Mbeere dancers who play unusually big drums held between their legs, with so much zeal and zest celebrating a part of their own culture and tradition. The Mwazindika dance of the coastal Taita community and the Mwomboko of the Gikuyu community are a great rendition, one would miss the words but not the renditions.
The Bomas of Kenya, despite being a large conference centre is the collective home to the different homes to different communities, bomas corrupted from the national Kenyan language Swahili. The Bomas of Kenya put on displays of traditional dancers and spread over many acres, it also has a wonderful display of mud huts and traditional Kenyan homesteads. It is the ideal place to bring energetic children as they can freely run in and out of the traditional houses & mud huts, climb up ladders and generally have a wonderfully active time. These traditional houses are set out in clusters according to the region.
Kikuyu Traditional Attire
The homes are grouped with the first wife's hut, second wife's hut, granary etc. and you can see where the livestock are kept and the enormous variety between the nuts.
The Fort Jesus in old Mombasa is located at Mombasa on the Kenyan coast. It is one of the three outstanding early Portuguese forts built around the coast of Africa in the 16th century and now included on the world heritage list (others are at Mazagan, Morocco, and the Island of Mozambique).  It was built between 1593 and 1596, and features high plastered walls built of coral rock, and a peculiar angular shape designed so that any assailant trying to climb any of the walls could easily come under fire from one of the bastions.  It was kept under Portuguese control for around 100 years, falling to Omani Arabs in 1698, and buildings within the Fort reflect a series of such changes over the centuries. The walls and surrounding moat enclose an area of approximately 150m x 150m.
There is no single prominent culture that defines Kenya. It instead consists of various cultures practiced by the 42 different communities and dialect. Due to its very nature, cuisine, national dressing, music and various other cultural activities vary depending on the community. There is a lot of cultural activities to engage in as you travel round the country. Inclusive Holidays Africa and other reputable Destination Management Companies in Kenya  will be delighted to arrange a pre or post safari home stay with any of the communities to experience and get assimilated in their way of life.

 Stephen Mwasio is a Tourism Consultant and CEO for Inclusive Holidays Africa – Twitter @inclusiveafrica


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