Taveta people

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There is also a town in Taita-Taveta District called Taveta
Western field (1905) (14592018669).jpg
Wataveta women
(published in Western field, 1902)
Total population
20,828 [1]
Regions with significant populations
African Traditional Religion, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Taita, other Bantu peoples

Taveta is the name of a tribe of East Africa. It is also the name of the principal town in the land of the Taveta people, and the name of the surrounding subdistrict of Kenya.

The people of Taveta[edit]

The Taveta tribe is one of the Bantu ethnicities in south central Kenya in the Taveta district. The people are sometimes referred to as the Wataveta, which is the plural name of the people in their own language, Kitaveta. The Tavetan population is commingled with other tribes, notably the Taita, Pare, Chaga, and Maasai. Because of their frequent contact with these other tribes, most Tavetans are fluent in (Ki)Swahili as a second language, and may also acquire some English or other local languages. The Tavetans are subdivided into 5 clans namely Warutu, Wanene, Wazirai, Wasuya, and Wandigiri.

The Wataveta inhabit mainly the lands between Tsavo National Park and the Tanzania border, up to the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Many Tavetans are occupied by commercial and subsistence farming, with the main cash crop being bananas and cotton, sugarcane, exotic and tropical fruits especially mangoes, avocados and many horticultural produce. Some work the local sisal plantations, and a few take advantage of special local commercial activities like transport or cross border trade.

The Wataveta land and people won brief international attention during World War I, when German and British colonial forces clashed there at the slaughter hill "Salaita". Author Isak Dinesen (a.k.a. Karen Blixen) and the film Out of Africa describe this history.

Most Tavetans practice some form of Christianity, roughly thirty percent are affiliated with either the Anglican Church of the Province of Kenya, the Roman Catholic Church, or Pentecostal churches. While Tavetans rarely profess African Traditional Religion, old customs concerning healing or cursing are not unknown.

Taveta is close to the Southeast African coast (Mombasa), and approximately ten percent of Tavetans practice Islam. According to Tavetan lore, the tribe was first exposed to Islam when Arab traders were crossing through their land and were impressed by their conduct leading to mass voluntary conversions.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2014-04-18. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]

  • Kitamo Cha Kuomba Portions of the Book of Common Prayer in Taveta (1894) digitized by Richard Mammana and Charles Wohlers