Since ancient times, Kenyans have always used song and dance to communicate. While civilization may have eroded much of the Kenyan traditional way of life, several Kenyan communities still perform their traditional dances, albeit on special occasions.
Here are the top five traditional dances in Kenya.
Adumu Dance, Maasai
The Maasai community in Kenya celebrates several unique traditional ceremonies, one of which is the Eunoto. The ceremony is performed by members of the same age group 10 years after they are initiated in to adulthood. The ceremony is marked by a unique Maasai traditional dance called “Adumu.”
In this dance, young Maasai men form a circle, which each of them enters at a time to jump to the rhythm of the song. The higher and more elegant the dancer jumps, the more appealing he is to the young women looking on. This dance does not involve any kind of musical instrument.
Mwomboko Dance, Kikuyu
Mwomboko dance is one of the most common traditional dances among the Agikuyu people, the largest ethnic group in Kenya. The dance is usually performed during historic events, such as Madaraka Day, which commemorates the day Kenya gained internal self-rule from the British colonizers.
Mwomboko is usually performed by the elderly members of the community to signify the importance of the event. It involves the stamping of feet and rhythmic movement of arms. Musical instruments used in this traditional dance include flutes and jingles.
Isikuti Dance, Luhya
Isikuti is a popular traditional dance practiced by the Isukha and Idakho clans of the larger Luhya community. It’s a fast-paced and energetic dance, involving both men and women. The dance is characterized by the vigorous shaking of the shoulders and waist and rhythmic stamping of the feet.
Isikuti is accompanied by traditional drums called “Isikuti” and metallic jingles. The dance is usually performed during importance occasions, such as weddings, childbirths, and funerals.
Chakacha Dance, Waswahili
The Chakacha dance is very common in the Kenyan coastal region, which is predominantly occupied by Swahili people. This traditional dance is usually performed and watched by women.
Originally it was performed at weddings, but contemporary musicians are now incorporating it in to their performances. Chakacha dance is characterized by drum beats and hip-swaying that the Swahili ladies are very good at.
Kilumi is a traditional drum song and dance performed by women from the Kamba community. The dance is comprised of two kilumi drums that are accompanied by ululations and singing of the lead singer who is usually backed by two or more other women vocalists. The drummers sing too. A single session of Kilumi dance can last about half an hour.