The Languages of the People of Kenya

Lisa R. Parker

These are diverse as the tribes are many. You will find over forty different tribes in the country. Every tribe has its own unique language. All the tribes in the country are divided into the Bantu, Nilotic and Cushitic speakers. These three groups are formed from how the languages of the people are related. You will find that the Bantu speakers speak almost the same language. If a kikuyu was communicating to a Meru or an embu person, though each talk in their own mother tongue, they will all be able to communicate effectively.

English is the official language. It is used in all government institutions, schools and other urban work places. The language is used as the official language in anything to do with the nation. In schools, this is the main language used. Though it is the official language, it is not the national language. Kiswahili is. This is so widely used that is is threatening the existence of some languages.

Among the young people, sheng is used. This is especially in urban areas. Sheng is a twist of words. It is usually a mix of Kiswahili, English and other mother tongue languages such as kikuyu. Sheng has made the young generation in Kenya not to be able to fluently communicate in either English or Kiswahili or other locally used languages. Urbanization is also threatening the existence of other languages as the young generation is not conversant with most of them. Most parents either use English or Swahili when communicating to there children. They also visit the rural areas rarely thus there chances of ever learning the mother tongue are limited.

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