The people of Northern Kenya

The Marsabit-Lake Turkana Cultural Festival was finally here with us. I could not wait to meet and learn more about the famous 14 tribes, that had been used to market this annual event, which had taken place since 2008.

The festival was proposed by the local communities living in Marsabit County, in order to promote peace and reconciliation amongst them.

IMG_0004Loyangalani A
Galgallo is part of the Konso people, who are originally from Southern Ethiopia, but have also settled in parts of Kenya including Laisames and Ileret. They are farmers, who practice bee-keeping. They are also known to practice Christianity and Islam, and some still adhere to traditional beliefs.


IMG_0025Loyangalani A
A Burji man plays the drum with so much elation during the start of the Marsabit-Lake Turkana Cultural Festival. The Burji tribesmen left quite the impression on me, mostly because of their lively spirits and their beautifully handcrafted attire, which they wore with much pride.


IMG_0059Loyangalani A-2
There were numerous beautiful women from the Somali community but Muna, playing the makeshift drum, stood out the most for me. She exuded so much youth. I absolutely loved the energy the entire community displayed as they danced to traditional Somali songs.


IMG_0100Loyangalani A
How stunning are Borana women? This was the community I photographed the most. Their notable hairstyles, their ornaments and their photogenic faces were hard to resist.


IMG_0172Loyangalani A
I had the best black coffee ever thanks to the generous Sidama people who happened to be brewing some when I visited their homestead. Ethiopians truly live up to their reputation of having the best coffee in the world, together with Kenyans of course. So imagine having origin from both worlds. That’s the Sidama tribe for you.


IMG_0227Loyangalani A
The Gabbra are divided into two sub-tribes. Photographed is a Gabbra woman, Habiba, of the Migo sub-tribe. Malmalo, the headgear, is worn by women with male children.


IMG_0241Loyangalani A
The Gabbra of the Malbe sub-tribe are easy to differentiate from their Migo counterparts; specifically the men. Unlike the former, the men wear the dhubo (headgear) al throughout and only take it off when going to sleep. And even then, it is placed on top of their shoes because it is considered something sacred.


IMG_0246Loyangalani A-2
My people (in my other life), the Samburu people, well represented by Safia. The beadwork on the leather wrap was meticulously done don’t you think?


IMG_0260Loyangalani A
The famous Turkana community, engrossed in song and dance.


IMG_0301Loyangalani A
Gabriella Nduruka was the first person I encountered from the El Molo tribe. She resides at El Molo bay, 12 kms from Loiyangalani town. The El Molo people are believed to be going extinct, with only 105 original people, in particular, inhabiting this village.


IMG_0008Loyangalani B
A Rendille woman. You will find that most Rendille people are able to speak the Samburu language. This is because there is a lot of intermarriage between the two communities, hence the similarities, as they have adapted each other’s cultural practices.


IMG_0070Loyangalani B
Raphael Roba, was kind enough to give me a brief history of his people, the Wayyu. Formerly known as the Watta, these people are originally from Negele in Ethiopia. They are close relatives of the Gabbra of Malbe, and consider themselves agro-pastoralists. There are only 10,000 of them in Kenya, widely distributed in different parts of the country including North Horr, Garba Tulla (Isiolo), Marsabit, Moyale, Madera, Voi, Kilifi, Malindi and Tana River.



IMG_0023Loyangalani B
Shinde Ibrahim is a proud member of the Garre people. It is very easy to confuse them with the Somali people, especially since they dress alike. Most of them can be found in Moyale.



IMG_0081Loyangalani B
Halima Adan, from the Sakuye tribe, was in the process of getting ready for the Lake Turkana Cultural Festival when I met her. She had traveled all the way from Marsabit town to be part of these festivities. The Sakuye people are closely related to the Somali.


Unfortunately, the people of the Daasanach tribe were unable to make it to the festival, after an encounter with flash floods near the Omo River, where they reside.





Published by nimuexpressions

I am a self-taught photographer who started out in Travel Photography, where I share my travel experiences through my photographs, as well as a bit of writing. With time my interests expanded to Documentary Photography, which has now become my main area of focus. I love to highlight human interest stories and social issues, especially those revolving around everyday life, both in rural and urban settings.

2 thoughts on “The people of Northern Kenya

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: