In June, ten ethnic sets of northern Kenya can come together presenting the Lake Turkana Festival. The festival is a celebration of culture. It provides the opportunity for visitors to learn and experience traditional song, dance, food, and rituals out of this remote corner of the world. The groups that live in this region include Borana, Turkana, Samburu, Wata, El Molo, Rendille, Dassanach, Gabbra, Konso, and Burji. This information will describe a few of these main groups, their languages, religions, and industries.
Kenya is home to 52 tribes, which are descended from three broad linguistic groups – Bantu, Nilotic, and Cushitic. Bantu sub-groups constitute many of Kenya’s populations and include the most prominent tribe, the Kikuyu, in addition to Luhya, Kisii, Kamba, and others. The Nilotic sub-groups account for about 30% of Kenya’s population and include Luo (Kenya’s second-largest tribe), Kalenjin and Maasai. Only 3% of Kenyans are Cushitic, but higher amounts of Cushites live in southern Ethiopia.
The Turkana would be the tenth-largest tribe in Kenya, with a population of 988,592, which is approximately 2.5% of the country’s total population. They follow either the Christian religion or their traditional beliefs. Inhabiting the north-west of Kenya near Lake Turkana, they’re semi-nomadic pastoralists herding camels, cattle, sheep, and goats. The Turkana are noted for their basket weaving and colorful beads. They’re closely linked to Maasai and Samburu and have a reputation for being fierce warriors. Their diet is principally milk and blood from their cattle. Although polygamy is normal, a Turkana wedding ceremony lasts four years, ending after the very first child is weaned.
Occupying north-central Kenya around Maralal would be the Samburu, closely linked to the better-known Maasai. The Samburu either follow traditional beliefs or the Christian religion. They’re semi-nomadic pastoralists, herding cattle, sheep, goats, and camels. Their diet comprises milk, vegetables, and meat. The young men wear red blankets and use red ochre to decorate their heads as the women wear bright, beaded jewelry.
The Dassanach people are found spread across Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan. In Kenya, they inhabit the northern end of Lake Turkana. They’re also referred to as Merille by the Turkana people. Traditionally the Dassanach were pastoral, but as they lost their lands (especially in Kenya) besides, they lost their herds and now try to grow crops to survive. The Dassanach is living on the shores of Lake Turkana hunt crocodiles and fish that they trade for meat. Women wear pleated cowskin skirts with necklaces and bracelets, while men wear a checkered cloth around their waist.
The Borana are pastoralists, herding cattle, and donkeys. While they’re a fraction in Kenya, they’re the biggest ethnic group in Ethiopia and number about 7 million in total across the two countries. Some Borana follows Islam, and others follow their traditional religion https://nomadific.com/. The language is also referred to as Borana. They trade with Konso and Burji, exchanging cattle for food crops and handicrafts. The Borana are an element of an ethnic group called Galla, which also incorporates the Wata, Gabbra, and Sakuya.
Migrating from Ethiopia in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Kenyan Burji are located mostly in Moyale and Marsabit. Most Burji, however, still live in Ethiopia. It is widely believed that they’re closely linked to the Amhara people of Ethiopia as they have a similar language. The predominant religion is Sunni Islam. They’re agricultural people and so became quite successful in northern Kenya, that is dominated by pastoralists, as they’d something different to trade.