Ethnic Groups of Northern Kenya


On June, 10 ethnic groups of northern Kenya will come together to provide the Lake Turkana Festival. The celebration is an event of culture and offers a chance for visitors to learn and experience conventional tune, dance, food, and routines from this remote corner of the world. The groups that reside in this area consist of Borana, Turkana, Samburu, Wata, El Molo, Rendille, Dassanach, Gabbra, Konso, and Burji. This post will explain a few of these primary groups, their languages, faiths, and markets.

Kenya is the home of 52 people that are come down from 3 broad linguistic groups - Bantu, Nilotic and Cushitic. Bantu sub-groups comprise most of Kenya's population and consist of the biggest people, the Kikuyu, along with Luhya, Kisii, Kamba, and others. The Nilotic sub-groups represent about 30% of Kenya's population and consist of Luo (Kenya's second-largest people), Kalenjin and Maasai. Just 3% of Kenyans are Cushitic, but higher numbers of Cushites reside in southern Ethiopia.

Nilotic Groups

The Turkana are the tenth-largest people in Kenya with a population of 988,592, which is around 2.5% of the nation's overall population. They follow either the Christian faith or their conventional beliefs. Occupying the north-west of Kenya near Lake Turkana, they are semi-nomadic pastoralists rounding up camels, livestock, sheep, and goats. The Turkana are known for their basket weaving and vibrant beads. They are carefully associated with Maasai and Samburu and have a track record of being intense warriors. Their diet plan is primarily milk and blood from their livestock. Although polygamy is regular, a Turkana wedding lasts 3 years, ending after the very first child is weaned.


Inhabiting north-central Kenya around Maralal is the Samburu, carefully associated to the better-known Maasai. The Samburu either follow standard beliefs or the Christian faith. They are semi-nomadic pastoralists, rounding up livestock, sheep, goats, and camels. Their diet plan makes up milk, veggies, and meat. The boys use red blankets and use red ochre to embellish their heads, while the ladies use intense, beaded jewelry.


The Dassanach people can be found spread throughout Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan. In Kenya, they live in the northern end of Lake Turkana. They are also called Merille by the Turkana people. Typically, the Dassanach were pastoral but as they lost their lands (particularly in Kenya) they also lost their herds and now aim to grow crops to endure. The Dassanach living on the coasts of Lake Turkana hunt crocodiles and fish which they trade for meat. Ladies use pleated cowskin skirts with pendants and bracelets, while males use a checkered fabric around their waist.


The Borana are pastoralists, rounding up livestock and donkeys. While they are a minority in Kenya, they are the biggest ethnic group in Ethiopia and number about 7 million in overall throughout the 2 nations. Some Borana follows Islam and others follow their standard religious beliefs. The language is also called Borana. They trade with Konso and Burji, exchanging livestock for food crops and handicrafts. The Borana belong to an ethnic group called Galla which also consists of the Wata, Gabbra, and Sakuyu.


Moving from Ethiopia in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Kenyan Burji are found mainly in Moyale and Marsabit. Most Burji nevertheless still reside in Ethiopia. It is commonly thought that they are carefully associated with the Amhara people of Ethiopia as they have a comparable language. The primary faith is Sunni Islam. They are farming people, therefore, ended up being rather effective in northern Kenya, which is controlled by pastoralists, as they had something different to trade.


Most of the 250,430 Konso reside in south-central Ethiopia, with a little number in northern Kenya. They are agriculturalists, growing generally sorghum, corn, cotton, and coffee. They keep livestock, sheep, and goats for their own food and milk. The Konso mostly follow their conventional faith and are popular for their carvings which they make in memory of a dead guy who has eliminated an opponent. They are set up like totems in a group to represent the guy's other halves and family too.


The Rendille are nomadic pastoralists, keeping camels as their main market. They populate the north-eastern area focused on the Kaisut Desert and Mount Marsabit. In 2006 Rendille numbered 34,700. They moved from Ethiopia and the northern Horn area into north-eastern Kenya. Most Rendille practice their standard religious beliefs while a couple of have embraced Islam or Christianity.

El Molo

The small El Molo people numbers 5-700 people with just a handful of pure El Molo left. They are hunter/gatherers, populating the north-eastern area of Kenya. They moved from Ethiopia and the northern Horn areas and now live practically specifically in Kenya.


The Gabbra's main profession is rounding up camels, goats, and sheep. They live north of Marsabit, grazing their animals among the gravel and stones of the Chalbi Desert and Dido Galgallu Desert in the eastern area. The Wata are among just a few little people that are hunter/gatherers. Their language resembles that of the Bushmen found in Southern Africa.