Malte Brun, Who was he? He wrote a geography of this Coast. No idea when it was published.

But I know that it was considered famous nearly one hundred and fifty years ago. The only remark Malte made about our bit of the coast was ‘What has become of the famous city of Melinda, and the twenty churches of Mombasa?—do they exist?’ That’s cryptic enough, if you like. The famous city of Malinda. Up it pops again. I heard an unusual thing the other day. Of how Malindi got its name. From a source you’d never guess. From Uganda. This is the story. It comes from an old witchdoctor, queerly enough.

As you know the Bantu peoples of Africa originally came from the country we now call Uganda and there­abouts. Because of sickness or drought, soil erosion or other causes they began to trek. Some tribes eventual­ly reached the Cape, others came down to this coast. One story says that these tribes were the llama tribes. Before their departure from their old haunts they agreed to each tribe taking the name of an animal. They would become blood brothers to the animal they had chosen. They were not to kill their blood brethren, but other tribes could. The result would mean equal distribution of food. Edward Rodwell


Omotik, Ndorobo in Kenya


Introduction / History


Sliding through the dense forest, the mud-covered young Dorobo hunter stiffened suddenly as he heard unfamiliar voices ahead. Creeping forward, he spied a group of oddly dressed people talking to his fellow tribesmen. "Is this really the end of the world, is this the Jesus they talk about?" he pondered. Curious, he stepped into the clearing and walked cautiously toward them. He had just seen the first Jesus-sent people to his own home.

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Click on Map





The Bantu expansion or Bantu colonisation

The Bantu expansion or Bantu colonisation was a millennia-long series of migrations of speakers of the original proto-Bantu language group.[1] [2] The primary evidence for this great expansion, one of the largest in human history, has been linguistic, namely that the languages spoken in Sub-Equatorial Africa are remarkably similar to each other, to the degree that it is unlikely that they began diverging from each other more than three thousand years ago. Attempts to trace the exact route of the expansion, to correlate it with archaeological evidence and genetic evidence, have not been conclusive; thus many aspects of the expansion remain in doubt or are highly contested.[3]






Between 1000-1800 AD, East Africa experienced a wave of migrations from different parts of Africa. The Bantu from the Congo or the Niger Delta Basin were the first to arrive, followed by the Luo from Bahr el Ghazel in Southern Sudan and then the Ngoni from Southern Africa.





After their movements from their original homeland in West Africa, Bantus also encountered in East Africa peoples of Afro-Asiatic (mainly Cushitic) and Nilo-Saharan (mainly Nilotic and Sudanic) ancestral origin. As cattle terminology in use amongst the few modern Bantu pastoralist groups suggests, the Bantu migrants would acquire cattle from their new Cushitic neighbors. Linguistic evidence also indicates that Bantus likely borrowed the custom of milking cattle directly from Cushitic peoples in the area.[16] Later interactions between Bantu and Cushitic peoples resulted in Bantu groups with significant Cushitic ethnic admixture, such as the Tutsi of the African Great Lakes region; and culturo-linguistic influences, such as the Herero herdsmen of southern Africa.[17][18]

Tribes of Kenya

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Tribes of Kenya


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However, most Kenyans speak at least three languages: their tribal language, Swahili (which has become a ‘lingua franca’ among a large part of East Africa) and English. Swahili (or Kiswahili) and English are the official languages of Kenya.












Language, however, is the main criteria for a tribe. There are three main language groups in which the tribes in Kenya can be divided:


Bantu-speaking tribes:
Central Bantu: Kikuyu, Akamba, Meru, Embu, Tharaka, Mbere
Western Bantu: Gussi, Kuria, Luhya
Coastal Bantu: Mikikenda, Swahili, Pokomo, Segeju, Taveta, Taita


The Kikuyu


Nilotic-speaking tribes:
Plains Nilotic: Maasai, Samburu, Teso, Turkana, Elmolo, Njemps
Highland Nilotic: Kalenjin, Marakwet, Tugen, Pokot, Elkony, Kipsigis
Lake River Nilotic: Luo


The Masai and Coloniasm


Cushitic-speaking tribes:
Eastern Cushitic: Rendille, Somali, Boran, Gabbra, Orma
Southern Cushitic: Boni

Dinka, a Wonderful Nilotic Ethnic Group from Sudan

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Kiswahili language

Swahili language, also called kiSwahili, or Kiswahili,  Bantu language spoken either as a mother tongue or as a fluent second language on the east coast of Africa in an area extending from Lamu Island, Kenya, in the north to the southern border of Tanzania in the south. (The Bantu languages form a subgroup of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family.)

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Colonialism and its Legacies in Kenya, Peter ONdege Associate Professor of History Department of History, Political Science and Public Administration