Kenyan Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Do’s 

  • It is important to enquire about a Kenyan’s well-being, their family, home and work whenever you see them to show personal interest. If meeting them for the first time, it is good to acquaint yourself with their family background and ask where they’re from.
  • Respect those who are older than you. Contradicting, criticising, disagreeing or ignoring elders will give them a poor opinion of you.
  • Expect a Kenyan to talk about their level of education. This can earn a person respect in Kenya as the culture is quite status-conscious.
  • Kenyans are likely to appreciate any sincere efforts to learn or speak Swahili. Regardless of whether terms are mispronounced, basic greetings or several key phrases will show that you are keen to understand Kenyan culture.
  • Show respect when photographing people and ask for permission first. Some people may feel comfortable having their photo taken, while others may not.


Don’ts

  • It is best not to criticise Kenya or point out its shortcomings. Kenyans may do so themselves, but foreign criticism may offend them or be interpreted as an insult.
  • Avoid insulting Christianity. In Kenya, many view Christian practices and beliefs as an important part of their identity.
  • Ethnic relations may be openly talked about; however, be aware that Kenyans may be sensitive to ethnic stereotypes and discrimination.
  • Avoid critiquing or suggesting solutions no matter how obvious a solution may seem to you unless you are asked. Since Kenyans tend to be indirect communicators, direct critique may be perceived negatively.
  • Do not assume all African peoples are the same. There is a great variety of distinct cultures and ethnicities across the continent. Thus, avoid homogenising those from Kenya with neighbouring countries.
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