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People of Kenya: Kuria


The community are an ethnic and linguistic group resident in the Tarime and Serengeti districts of the Mara region in Northern Tanzania, and the west and east districts of Nyanza Province in southwest Kenya with 213,000 living in Tanzania and 135,000 in Kenya totaling to348,000 in population. The Kuria people are divided into about 16 “subtribes” or clans, namely: Nyabasi, Bakira, Bairege, Bagumbe (who reside in both Kenyan and Tanzanian districts), Batimbaru, Banyamongo, Bakenye, Baikoma, Bamerani, as well as several others.

The people are mainly agriculturalists and pastoralists, with the Kenyan Kurians leaning towards agriculture and the Tanzanian Kurians more towards pastoralism. They (Kurians) also have started practicing petty entrepreneurship. Their life is rich in traditions, and has historically centered on a ritual cycle that individuals and the community undergo.

The life of Kuria people

As a rite of passage Circumcision is a central institution in the lives of kuria people as well as other people which constitutes the transition from childhood to adulthood, marking the changed status of an individual and his or her family, with the concomitant changes in roles, responsibilities, control, and power.

Unlike the tribes the elders of the secret council must judge a number of physical and metaphysical factors to be propitious, after which hundreds of early adolescent boys and girls undergo a series of culturally prescribe rituals, including genital cutting.

The Kuria have an unusual marriage custom where two women can be married, so that a woman who cannot have her own children can still have a family. Polygamy was common until recently, the only barrier being a man’s wealth.