People of Baringo

Ac. OlkokweNjemp Village
Njemp boat race
Njemp Fishing on Lake Baringo

Ol Kokwe Njemp Village

Njemp boat race

Njemp Fishing on Lake Baringo

Njemp Tribe Warriors

Pokot Tribe

The tribes of the region of Lake Baringo include, the Njemp, Tugen (Kalingen) and Pokot (Pokoot).

Njemp People

Baringo is the traditional home of the Njemps tribe (thought to be related to the Maasai), a unique tribe who also fish. Among other pastoral tribes such as the Maasai and Samburu, eating fish is a taboo. (Photo shows ceremonial dress with horn made from Greater Kudu horn.)

The Njemps have many cultural associations with both of these groups and there are several theories as to their actual origin. One possibility is that the Njemps descended from a Samburu Clan known as the Il-Doigo while another theory sees them as descendants of a Maasai clan driven out of the Lakipia area. The community abandoned the main characteristic of most pastoralists, nomadism, and settled down to grow crops on the shores of the lake. As shown in the photo, many of those in the Island Community also have goats and cows (which they herd across the island on Ambach boats with drums to scare away the crockodiles.) The Njemps are famous for their small Ambach wood boats that they use to move around the lake and fish.

Kalenjin People

The Kalenjin are believed to have migrated to their present location from the South Sudan region around 2,000 years ago. (They were reported to be the warriors of Ancient Egypt.)

Until the early 1950s, the Kenyan peoples now known as the Kalenjin did not have a common name; they were usually referred to as the ‘Nandi-speaking tribes’ by scholars and administration officials, a practice that did not immediately come to a halt after the adoption of the common name ‘Kalenjin’ (cf. Evans-Pritchard 1965).

In the late 1940s and the early 1950s, several Nandi-speaking peoples united to assume the common name ‘Kalenjin’, a Nandi expression meaning I say (to you). Due to this effort, the peoples were transformed into a major ethnic group in Kenya. The adoption of the name Kalenjin also involved a standardization of the different dialects of Nandi.

The Kalenjin’s are famous for their runners who have dominated many of the marathon races around the world.

Tugen People

The Tugen are a branch of the Kalenjin community and they occupy the districts of Baringo and Koibatek in Rift Valley, Kenya. Daniel Arup Moi, the second president of Kenya (1978–2002) was from the Tugen branch. The Tugen people speak the Tugen language.

The Tugen are cattle keepers and the cow occupies a central part in their cultural lives, as food (meat and milk), currency, as dowry. Among the Kalenjin community they are known as resilient since they live in harsh climatic conditions.

Pokot People

The Pokot people (commonly spelled Pökoot) live in West Pokot County and Baringo County in Kenya and in the Pokot District of the eastern Karamoja region in Uganda. They speak Pökoot, a language of the Southern Nilotic language family which is close to the Marakwet, Nandi, Tuken and other members of the Kalenjin grouping. Kenya’s 2009 census puts the total number of Pokot speakers at about 620,000 in Kenya. In addition, there are close to 100,000 Pokot speakers in Uganda. According to the census, there were 133,000 Pokot speakers in Baringo County and close to 500,000 in West Pokot County. A fair estimate indicates that there are close to 700,000 Pokot speakers in Kenya and Uganda.

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