Get To Understand The Kalenjin Pre-history


Kalenjin prehistory refers to the history of the linguistic ancestor of the Kalenjin people before the adoption of writing. The most popular narrative of origin of the Kalenjin dialect states that the Kalenjin originated from a country in the north Kenya known as Ematab Burgei which means the hot country. It is speculated that this country was either Sudan or Egypt. 

The people are said to have travelled southwards along River Nile, passing through Mt. Elgon or Tulwetab kony (Mt. Elgon ) as their original point of settlement in Kenya. The Kalenjin historian have proposed that the early Kalenjin moved into Kenya’s western highlands by following the Kerio and Turkwel Rivers. On their way some migrants crossed wet to sekerr and Chemeringit hills while the rest moved on to Mount Elgon. For several centuries, the linguistic ancestors of the Kalenjin, would be dominant population of the western highlands of Kenya. At their utmost scope, their territories covered the highlands from the chepalungu and Mau forest northwards as far as the Chereng`ani Hills and Mount Elgon.

Archeological evidence indicates a highly inactive way of life and a cultural obligation to a closed protective organization for both the community and their livestock during the Sirikwa era of the Kalenjin prehistory. Family homesteads comprised small individual family cattle pens, complex gates and entrances and houses facing into the homestead; protective methods principally intended to guard against individual thieves or small groups of rustlers trying to accomplish their quest by sneakiness. 

The Kalenjin and other Nilotes in the great lake region have through contact embraced many practices and traditions from bordering southern Cushitic groups .This includes the age-set system of social structures and taking up of the custom of circumcision. The Kalenjin had been semi – Nomadic pastoralist of long period. They had been raising sheep, cattle and goats and planting millet and sorghum.

They inhabited and still make up the tribal majority in parts of physical western Kenya and the former Rift Valley. The region was not acknowledged as a geographic region. Nevertheless, the various Kalenjin ethnic groups had a comparable set of arrangement of geographic region within their relevant ancestral lands. The Kokwet was the most important political and official unit of organisation among the Kalenjin. The central leadership point of each kokwet was a council, led by a spokesman called Poiyot tab Kokwet’. 

Oral customs is important among the Kalenjin. Folktales served to convey a sense of cultural record. The Kalenjin have four oral traditions: proverbs, songs, riddles and folktales. Stories were usually about people or animals.

Songs accompanied both work and play, as well as ceremonial occasions such as births, initiation and weddings. Both Males and females become adults after undergoing initiation rites among the kalenjin. Customarily, these were held about every 7 years. Every one undergoing initiation tumdo one become a member of a named ageset, ‘ipinda’.


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