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  African Tumbas of Kenya

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African Tumbas of Kenya is a powerful Folklore group of dancers acting as cultural ambassadors for more than 42 native ethnic groups of Kenya. Formed in 1996 in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, African Tumbas aims to promote and exhibit the rich art of Kenyan folklore through song and dance. The practice of using folk music and dance as a medium of social, cultural and spiritual expression is a resonant theme in African cultural traditions and abundant in African Tumbas’ performances.


            African Tumbas dances reveal the strong narrative history involved in the practice of African folklore and dance. The group’s dances represent marriage, birth, initiation ceremonies, harvest, war, religious festival and death. This tradition finds its root in the role of the tribal hunters as they related stories of hunting to their community via song and dance. This practice can be found in all facets of Kenyan life, revealing the history, religion, and social customs of the nation’s multiple ethnic communities.


            African Tumbas dances' repertoire is testament to Kenya’s wide range of regional and ethnic communities, using dances such as the Isukuti from the Luhya community in the western part of Kenya, to the Kilumi of Kamba community in Kenya’s east.

            A dance such as the Maasai represents equally important events in the Kenyan community including coming of age ceremonies for tribal warriors – Known as Eunoto in Maasai community – and simple day to day activities. The dance can be performed in multiple variations from its jumping dance form, as seen during Eunoto, to a visual representation of the flirting between young men and women. Accompanying such dances is the ever-present pulsating rhythms of drums – composed of anything from scrap metal to gourds – and songs organized around a call and response system.


            While our dances are performed by us as a single group, we are representative of Kenya’s collection of ethnic communities that range from the Maasai, Luo and Luhya, to the Kikuyu and Giriama tribes. Gaining exposure and praise from our participation in multiple folk festivals throughout Kenya and Europe, African Tumbas dances bring to life the rich cultural communities of Kenya.

            Kenyan music, dances and songs as embodied in the entire concept of African culture, is a cherished treasure and a source of pride for Kenyan people everywhere, which could help to identify the Kenyan and champion his dignity.



            The instruments used to produce the pulsating rhythms that accompany the dances also come from different communities within the over 42 ethnic communities. These instruments includes the Kigamba by the kikuyu community, Nyatiti an eight stringed instrument and Orutu a one string instrument, Ohangala drums and Mier bul 8 drums from the Luo community, Mabumbumbu, Mchirima and Msondo drums from the Giriama and Digo communities just to mention but a few.


            All Kenyan dances come with different costumes depending with the dance and the occasion. These dances are colored with costumes from respective communities, which are made from different materials ranging from Sisals, animal Skins and normal cloth materials.



            In the 13 years of existence, African Tumbas has participated in many folklore festivals and youth projects both locally and internationally.


1998 – Staged our own production ‘ROOTS’ at British Council and Goethe Institute auditorium.

1999 – A country wide tour staging another own production ‘SOUNDS OF AFRICA’ a revival and inheritance of African Culture Programme.

2000 – Participated in Vihiga Cultural Festival in western Kenya.

2006 – Produced our first audio CD ‘HAKUNA MATATA’

2009 – Participated in City council of Nairobi Intercity festival in Nairobi.

1998 – Participated in a project ‘Instant Acts against Racism and Violence’ organized by Interkunst e.v. in Berlin, Germany.


2000 – Participated in different folk festivals in Italy and Slovakia.

v     25th Festival Della Collina  Cuori

v     Festival International Folclore Sardgenia Island

v     Festival International Folclore Benneventon

v     31st Festival Dei Cuori Tarcento


2004 – Participated in different folk festivals in Spain, organized by Mostra International Festival.

ü      VIII Mostra Iternacional De Les Arts Popular Quart de Poblet

ü      XVII Festival Folklore La Esteva Segovia

ü      XXVIII Festival International De Folklore Burgos

ü      XXIV Mostra Internacional Folklrica Soller, Mallorca

ü      IX FestivalInternacional de Folklore Ingenio, Gran Canarias

ü      4th Festival Internacional de Folklore Arona Teneriffe


2005 – Participated in different folk festivals in France and Spain organized by Pyrenees International folk festival.

·                                                         Les Poupes d’or du Folklorique Etain

·                                                         28th Festival Internacional de Folklorique Romans

·                                                         18th Festival de Folklore de Issore, Issoire

·                                                         Festival Folclorico Internacional Gijon

·                                                         10th Festival des Cultures du Monde Quillan

·                                                         43rd Festival Folclorico de les pirineos Jaca, Spain

·                                                         XXII Xonadas de Folklore Ourense, Spain

·                                                         43rd Festival Folklorique des Pyrenees

·                                                         9th Festival International de Danse et Music Espellete, Basque

·                                                         Festival Musique et Danses de monde Airvault, France

·                                                         46th Festival du Folk Mondial Haguenau, France


2006 – Participated in different folk festivals in Belgium, France and Slovenia organized by Festival Mondial de Saint – Ghislain.

Ø                                                                              Olloy, France

Ø                                                                              6th Festival Mondial Folklore en Val de Sambre Viron, France

Ø                                                                              14th Festival de Musique et Danses Folklorique Anor, France

Ø                                                                              Chauny, France

Ø                                                                              Festival International de Folklore Malmedy, France

Ø                                                                              Mureaux, France

Ø                                                                              Quievrain, France

Ø                                                                              Hanauit, France

Ø                                                                              Musique du monde centre culturel Virton, France

Ø                                                                              Sallaumines, Belgium

Ø                                                                              Tournai, Belgium

Ø                                                                               Les 25th Sacres du folklore Reims, France

Ø                                                                              Hams,

Ø                                                                              Lunerite

Ø                                                                              Hergnies

Ø                                                                              Hiergies

Ø                                                                              Maribor, Slovenia

Ø                                                                              Festival Mondial Folklore Chambery, France

Ø                                                                              Les 6th rencontres internationales de folklore La Garde, France

Ø                                                                              51st festival Folklorique international du Rouergue, France

Ø                                                                              20th festival Folklorique international  de Haute Tarentaise Bourg saint Maurice, France

Ø                                                                              Rodez, France


2007- Participated in different international folklore festivals in Belgium and France organized by Festival Mondial de Saint Ghislain.

Ø      Les 26th Sacres du Folklore Reims, France.

Ø      20th Edition of Wereld Folklore Izegem, Belgium.

Ø      49th World Festival of Folklore Schoten, Belgium.

Ø      48th Edition of Festival des Folklores du Monde Jambes – Namur, Belgium.

Ø      7th Rencontres Internationales de Folklore Toulon, France.

Ø      Festival de Martigues, Martigues, France.

Ø      17th Festival International du Luberon, Manosque, France.

Ø      Festival International du Brix, Normandy, France.


2008 – Participated in different international folklore festivals in Portugal and Spain organized by FOLKFARO festival in Portugal.


v     Festival Folklorico de los Pueblos Del Mundo de Extremadura (Spain)

v     FolkFaro International festival (Portugal)

v     Internacional Festival de Musica y Danzas de Villablanca (Huelva, Spain)

v      Encuentro Internacional De Folklore Ciudad de Zaragoza ( Zaragoza, Spain)

v     41 Festival Internacional De Folklore En El Mediterraneo (Murcia, Spain)


2009 – Participated in different International Folklore Festivals in France and Spain from 4th July to 7th September, a tour organized by Festival Du Sud in France.


·        45 Festival International de Folklore de Chateau Gombert (Marseille, France)

·        26th Festival “Danses et Rythmes du Monde” (Langon, France.)

·        Festival des Cultures du Monde (Gemenos, France)

·        Festival International en Pyrenees Audoises (Quillan, France)

·        Festival International des Pyrenees (Jaca, Spain)

·        15th Festival International de folklore Concello de Vigo (Vigo, Spain)

·        Festival Colours du monde (Castres, France)

·        Festival des Cultures du Monde (La Fage St. Julien, France)

·        Festival International de Folklore de Las Preses (Esdan, Spain)

·        Festival International de Folklore de Valencia (Valencia, Spain)

·        Festival International de Folklore de Vila Real (Spain)



David Kavashia MBUGUA

African Tumbas
P.O. Box 3198
00200 Nairobi - KENYA