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Form 1 History and Government Notes on The People of Kenya up to the 19th Century Introduction

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There is immense evidence to confirm that east Africa was the cradle of humankind.
Archaeological evidence (for example, the tools found at Koobi Fora, Olorgesaillie, Kariandusi, Mtongwe, around Lake Victoria, Lukenya hills, near lake Naivasha) show that Kenya was inhabited by Stone Age people. There is also evidence of use of iron in Kenya dating back as AD270 e.g. at Urewe near Ngiya in Siaya and in Kwale.

According to oral traditions, the earliest people to occupy Kenya were of the Khoisan stock. They had similar features like the Khoi khoi and the San of South Africa, the Sandawe and Hadza of Tanzania. They all spoke a language with a clicking sound.

Cultural aspects of the Khoisan
a) They Spoke a language with a clicking sound like the khoi-khoi of South Africa
b) They were nomadic people
c) They gathered the wild fruit in the wild and dug up tubers and roots for their foods
d) They used stone tools in addition to bows and arrows.
e) They fished in rivers and lakes using harpoons
f) They made use of rock shelters and caves.
g) They buried the dead.
h) Made and used pottery.
NB- such evidence of the culture of the Khoisan has been found in Gambles and Njoro river caves near Nakuru. These pioneering inhabitants of Kenya disappeared maybe after being subdued and overcome by the powerful incoming Bantus and nilotes. However, there exist some remnants of these hunter-gatherer communities in the western highlands of rift valley. They speak the language of the group near them like Kalenjin (okiek), Maasai (Dorobo), Onguye and Okuro in western Kenya.

They existed in two groups:
a) The southern Cushites
b) The eastern Cushites.

The southern Cushites
They might have entered present day Kenya through northern Kenya and seem to have originated from the Ethiopian highlands. Since they were pastoralists, they must have been looking for better pasture for their livestock. Around 2500 and 3000 years ago, they were already occupying the grasslands of the Kenya highlands cultivating food crops like sorghum , millet and rearing long horned humpless cattle. They even extended upto Tanzania. They included the Iraqi, Boni and Burungi of Tanzania, The Dahallo or Sanye of the lower Tana (the remaining southern Cushites in Kenya). Some were later absorbed by the incoming groups.

The Eastern Cushites
They include the Borana, Somali, Oromo, Gabra, Rendille and Burji.
They originated either from Ethiopia or Somalia moving and settling into Kenya around 2000 and 1000 years ago due to the following reasons;
a) Escaping from clan or family feuds.
b) There was population pressure in their area of origin.
c) They were in search of better grazing lands.
d) They were fleeing the outbreak of disease that affected both people and animals.
e) They were escaping famine and drought.
f) They fled constant attacks from their neighbours such as the Somali.
g) The migrated to satisfy their spirit of adventure.

They came in the 16th century from Ethiopia. Initially they settled on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana. They later moved south pushing the Mijikenda and the Pokomo out of the Shungwaya to occupy Malindi and Kilifi. Today they occupy the southern part of Tana River and are neighbours to the Pokomo.

Effects of migration and settlement of the Oromo in Kenya
a) They inter-married with the people they came into contact with e.g. Somali, Pokomo and Borana.
b) Their settlement in Kenya led to expansion of trade.
c) Their settlement led to increased conflict between communities over resources e.g. pasture and water.
d) Displacement and redistribution of people in the area where they settled e.g. the Oromo pushed the Bantu from the Shungwaya region.
e) Assimilation of some communities they came into contact with e.g. the Oromo vs. Somali.
f) Cultural exchange e.g. neighbouring communities adopted Islam.
g) Settlement in high agricultural potential areas e.g. river valleys encouraged some of them to practice crop farming.
h) Expansion of agriculture due to demand of agricultural produce.

They are also Oromo speaking people whose origin is southern Ethiopia. Their migration into Kenya was due to escaping the Menelik Wars of Conquest in 1897 and who had imposed heavy taxes on them. They represent some of the most recent migrations into Kenya end as late as 1900 when more Borana groups fled into Kenya from Somali running away from the war between the Somali Nationalists and the British.
Today the Borana occupy the area north of the Tana River.

They originated from Mogadishu where they were living by 10th century A.D. They begun moving southwards into Kenya around that time maybe due to the Oromo threat or they were looking for pasture for their livestock. The Somali represent the largest single group of eastern Cushites in Kenya.

Results of Cushitic migration into Kenya
a) There was massive warfare during the migrations leading to killing of many people in the process. For example, there was constant warfare between the Somali and the Oromo.
i) They displaced some of the communities which they came into contact with e.g. the Oromo pushed the Mijikenda from the Shungwaya region in AD 1500 AND 1600.
b) They intermarried with those people they interacted with e.g. the some of the Pokomo intermarried with the Borana.
c) Their settlement led to expansion / development of trade between them and their neighbours e.g. they traded with the Samburu and the Maasai.
d) There was cultural exchange between them and the Bantu and Nilotic neighbours. E.g. the Taboo against eating Fish among the Bantu, the age set system and circumcision has origin from the Cushites.
e) The migrations led to population pressure in the region.
f) Adoption of some agricultural practices from the Bantu.
g) There was redistribution of population in Kenya. The Mijikenda for example were scattered at Shungwaya.

The term Bantu refers to group of people who speak the same or similar language with common word “NTU” which means a person. The Bantu-speaking groups include the Luhyia, Kisii, Kuria, Kikuyu, Akamba, Meru, Aembu, Taita, Agiriama, Digo in Kenya and Pokomo, as well as many other smaller groups. Their original homeland was somewhere between eastern Nigeria and the Cameroon (Congo Basin).
They then moved southwards towards present day Democratic Republic of Congo (around 500 BC the Bantu were living in the Congo forest). This became a major dispersal point from where the Bantus moved in four major waves. Of these waves, the two waves that account for settle of the Bantu in Kenya are the ones moving south-eastwards through the area west of Lake Victoria (a 2nd dispersal point for Bantus). From here they dispersed in two groups;
A. some group passed through present-day Uganda , some settling there (Baganda, Banyoro, Batoro), proceeding into Kenya to form the western Bantu(Luhyia, Kisii, Kuria and Abasuba)
B. From the west Victoria dispersal point a group moved and entered east Africa at appoint south of Lake Victoria and then proceeded eastwards across northern Tanzania to a dispersal point between Taita hills and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Some settled in Tanzania (Chagga, Nyamwezi, Sukuma, Kuria, Haya, Yao, Segeju, Zaramo).The rest of the group proceeded northwards to the coast upto Shungwaya (another dispersal point). These were the eastern Bantus.
The reasons for the migration of the Bantu are not known but they most likely included the following;
a) Drought and famine: This broke out because the climate in their cradle land had become unreliable/unpredictable.
b) Population increase which resulted into population pressure, e.g. they became overpopulated in their cradle land.
c) The constant attacks (external pressure) from stronger tribes in West Africa and the Nile valley; also due to the migration of the Arabs, who were believed to be more hostile, into West Africa.
d) Internal conflicts from the Bantu tribes: These conflicts concerned the ownership of agriculture area, the shortage of grazing lands and watering areas.
e) Epidemics and diseases/natural calamities, e.g. earthquakes, over flooding of rivers like river Niger, sickness, diseases such as Nagana caused by Tsetse flies, sleeping sickness e.t.c.
f) Search for fertile land: Since they were predominantly farmers, the Bantu migrated in order to find more land which could be more fertile than the cradle land, which could no longer support them.
g) Love for adventure: They moved due to their desire for adventure, i.e. they wanted to find out what was happening in other areas.
h) Group influence: Some moved because they had seen their relatives and friends move.
i) Need for water and pasture for their animals forced them to move.
j) The Bantu migrated in order to export their iron-working culture. They had discovered the knowledge of iron working and had invented iron tools. These iron tools had transformed the agricultural sector by making the clearing of land for cultivation faster and more efficient.

The Western Bantu
They include Luhyia, Kisii, Kuria and Abasuba and settled in western part of kenya thus their name.

-The Abaluhyia community is made up of eighteen sub-groups. The sub-groups which constitute the community have a common background, common customs and speak closely related dialects of the same language.
-According to Abaluhyia tradition, communities used to hold criminal tribunals at the junctions of footpaths. The area at the junction of footpaths was known as Uluyia or a meeting point and it is claimed that the name Abaluhyia is derived from this. Another version states that in a polygamous home the courtyard outside the main father’s house is called Luhyia. All the children are referred as children of one Luhyia and hence the name Abaluhyia.
-Most of the Luhyia sub-groups point to Mt. Elgon dispersal point as their origin. The settlement of the Abaluhyia into Kenya dates back to 300 AD. By 1750 AD, many groups had settled in present day Bukhayo, Marama, Tiriki, Bunyore, Wanga and Maragoli.
-They absorbed some groups they found in the area. Also, their interaction with the Maasai led to establishment of clans like the Abashimuli among the Idakho. The Marachi, Kisa and Samia interacted with the Luo.

-Abagusii traditions acknowledge a close relationship with the following people: the Abakuria, Abalogoli, Ababukusu, Abasuba, Agikuyu, Ameru, Aembu, Ambeere and the Akamba. Their tradition has it that on their way from the country which they call ‘Msiri’ they were accompanied by the Baganda and the Basoga besides the above groups.
-The Abagusii and the Abalogoli migrated southwards following the River Nzoia valley and arrived near Lake Victoria between 1490 and 1520. Following an easterly course along the lake shore, they settled at the head of Goye Bay in Yimbo location of Nyanza with their homeland spreading across present day Ulowa, Sare and Unyejra at the foot of Ramogi hill. Luo migrants in 1550 AD found them settled in this general area and pushed them from Alego to Kisumu where they lived upto 1600AD.
-Their migration from Kisumu to Kano was motivated by drought in the area. However, their eastward migration was checked by the Maasai and the Kipsigis
-By the 18th century, they had settled in the Kisii highlands positively interacting with the neighboring Luo, Maasai and Kipsigis in terms of trade.

Why the Abagusii remained in the Kano plains for too long before settling in the Kisii highlands.
a) They were obstructed by the Kipsigis who were migrating westwards.
b) The Maasai were also quite wild/hostile.
c) The plains favored their activity of livestock grazing.
d) Lack of a strong warrior group to fight their expansionist wars against the warring neighbors.

-The origin of the name ‘Kuria’ is a thorny point in the Abakuria history. The major Abakuria sub-tribes such as Abanyabasi, Abatimbaru, Abanyamongo, Abakira, Abairegi and Abagumbe have traditions to the effect that their ancestor was Mokuria (or Mukuria) that lived in “Msiri”. His descendants migrated from “Msiri” and after many years of wandering on the other side of Lake Victoria; they eventually reached and settled in the present Bukuria By 1800AD,) in south Nyanza.)
-According to this tradition, the Abakuria have been divided from time immemorial into two families: the Abasai of the elder wife of Mokuria and the Abachuma of the younger wife.
-The Abakuria are related to Abalogoli of Abaluhyia and Abagusii and trace same origin at Mt. Elgon dispersal point.
-The Abakuria people appear to have sprung from too many directions to have a common historical origin, although a number of clans claim to have come from Msiri.
-Among the Abakuria today are found people who were originally from Kalenjin, Maasai, Bantu and Luo speaking communities. The Abakuria adopted the practice of age set organization and circumcision from the southern Cushites

-The name “Suba” means “the people who are always wandering”.
-The Suba migrated into their current locations beginning in the mid-1700s. They came from the region just west of Lake Victoria and settled on the islands.
-The Suba migrated from Uganda and settled on the two Lake Victoria islands of Rusinga and Mfangano, and are believed to be the last tribe to have settled in Kenya. Other subgroups migrated and settled on the shores of Lake Victoria in the early 18th century.
-The Suba are descendants of one wave of the Bantu migration from Central Africa over the last 1500 to 1800 years. In the 16th century, it appears, small family groups related to the Ganda people on the western side of the lake migrated across Lake Victoria on boats to settle on Rusinga Island and other islands near what is now Kenya and Tanzania.
-The Suba are descendants of one wave of the Bantu migration from Central Africa over the last 1500 to 1800 years. In the 16th century, it appears, small family groups related to the Ganda people on the western side of the lake migrated across Lake Victoria on boats to settle on Rusinga Island and other islands near what is now Kenya and Tanzania.
-Linguistically, the Suba are highly influenced by the neighbouring Luo, to the point of a language shift having taken place among large portions of the mainland Suba.
-The remaining speakers of the Suba language are mostly elderly residents on the island of Mfangano.

The Eastern Bantu
They are divided into Highland or Mt. Kenya Bantu and Coastal Bantu.

Coastal Bantu
They include the Taita, Pokomo and Mijikenda.From the west Victoria dispersal point their first movement was upto Taita hills, where the Taita remained. The Mijikenda and Pokomo proceeded northwards to the coast upto Shungwaya (another dispersal point). The main reason for the Shungwaya dispersal was the Oromo attack In AD 1600.

They moved from Shungwaya following river Tana interacting with the Cushites like the Oromo and Somali.

The name means Nine Clans comprising of the Kauma, Giriama, Duruma, Chonyi, Jibana, Kambe, Ribe, Rabai and Digo.From the Shungwaya dispersal point,(forced out by the Oromo/Somali southwards expansionist attacks), they settled in fortified villages mainly due to security concerns. Each of the nine groups settled in their own separate ridge referred to as Kaya fortified with thorny trees. By the 19th, the Mijikenda were established as middlemen during the long distance trade between the Akamba and the coastal Waswahili.
The highland Bantu
Examples of highland Bantus include Agikuyu, Ameru, Aembu, Ambeere and the Akamba

They are also products of the Shungwaya dispersion.

-The largest single group of the eastern group.
-While the Kikuyu can be found throughout Kenya, the heaviest concentration being in Central Province, known as the traditional Kikuyu homeland.
The Kikuyu traditionally believe that a man, Gikuyu, was the founder of the tribe. He had a wife named Mumbi, who gave birth to nine (plus one) daughters. The daughters married and had their own families, retaining a domineering role in Kikuyu society.
-It was in Mukurwe wa Gathanga division of Nyeri district where an identifiable beginning for the modern Kikuyu people is defined.
-Ancestors of the Kikuyu arrived in Kenya during the Bantu migrations of 1200-1600 AD. The Agikuyu seem to have moved southwest from the coast at around 1400AD also running away from hostile Oromo. They followed Tana River with some groups falling off and settling in different places. For example the Tharaka settled in the east and the Ambeere settled in the southwest. The main group proceeded upto the confluence of rivers Tana and Thika (Mukurwe wa Gathanga. They spread and settled in Kiambu and Nyandarua from Murang’a.
-The key event in their migration and settlement was military conflict with and defeat of the Gumba people by the Mathira and Tetu people, allied with the Athi and the Maasai in the early 1800's.
-They displaced or absorbed the original inhabitants-the Dorobo (Athi) and Gumba who were a hunter- gatherer community.
-Settlement of the Nyeri plains took place after the British moved the Maasai from the area. The Kikuyu were in Kabete by around 1850, Ruiru about 1900.
-They heavily interacted with the Maasai and Cushites in the area.

Describe the relationship between Athi and the Agikuyu
a) The Athi were the original inhabitants of the land where the Agikuyu live presently.
b) The Agikuyu claim they bought the land from the Athi.
c) The Agikuyu also acquired some cultural practices from the Athi e.g. circumcision, clitoridectomy and age set system.
d) The Athi acted as middlemen in the trade between the Agikuyu, Maasai and the coastal people.

-They point to the area around mt Kilimanjaro as their original homeland.
-From here they moved to Taita Hills before reaching Tsavo West. They followed the Banks of Athi River in the 15thcentury one group crossing Athi into Ulu. Another group moved south to the Galana River and settled in the region around Chyulu hills north of Mt. Kilimanjaro
-By around mid 16thcentury a group of the Akamba had settled in the Mbooni hills near Machakos.
-Due to environmental influence, the Akamba near Mbooni began to practice agriculture before migrating to Iveti, Kilungu and Masaku. Those that moved to drier Chyulu hills became hunters. The Kitui group adopted pastoralism and hunting and participated in long distance trade.

The Ameru
-Their original homeland is claimed to be Mbwa, located somewhere at the coast on Manda island. The Shungwaya dispersal might have led to the pushing of the Ameru to Tigania and Igembe regions at around 1400AD. They crossed the Tana River with the Tharaka sections of Agikuyu and settled to the east of Tana. The Chuka section settled in the west of river Tana. The mwimbi, imenti, tigania and igembe also settled west of the Tana River.
-According to tradition, the Meru and Agikuyu were initially migrating as one group and separated at around 15thc and 16thc.

Effects of the Bantu Migration
The results of the Bantu migration were both positive and negative.

Positive results
1. Introduction of iron working, the use of iron tools in the interior of East Africa where people were at first using stone tools. There was an increase in food production.
2. Introduction of new crops e.g. yams, bananas: the Bantu introduced and increased the knowledge of food and extensive crop cultivation. Earlier on, the inhabitants of East Africa were food gatherers, but with iron smelting and its results, food production seriously started.
3. They absorbed other tribes e.g. the gathers: This led to widespread Bantu languages of “NTU”prefix in East Africa.
4. They introduced centralized administration: They introduced a centralized system of government whereby the king acted as the overall ruler, under who were the other chiefs, down to the lay person. This was done in western Kenya by the Wanga.
5. Introduced a system of building permanent homes: They opened new land to settlement in families, clans and villages.
6. The knowledge of iron smelting which the Bantu introduced led to the making of hoes and pangas for tilling and clearing land, the bows, arrows and spears for defense and protection.
7. They introduced subsistence agriculture, whereby they grew enough food for home consumption, and the rest could be kept in case of shortages, or be exchanged in barter trade.

Negative effects
1. The Bantu migration led to depopulation: This was caused by the frequent attacks made on the Bantu by Somali and Oromo, or by the Bantu against the people East Africa for land, through wars.
2. There was loss of culture due to cultural absorption: This was brought about due to Bantu intermarrying with the non- Bantu peoples, whom they came across.
3. There was transformation of languages into new ones: This led to the dying down of some of the Bantu languages, while others remained.

The Nilotic speakers
Nilotes is a term originating from the word Nile. The origin of these groups is associated with the Nile River. These are the second largest group after the Bantu.
They are divided into three groups;
a) River-lake nilotes- the Luo.
b) Plains nilotes- the Maasai, Turkana and Samburu.
c) Highlands nilotes- Kalenjin groups of the Marakwet, Tugen, Nandi, Kipsigis, Elgeyo , Pokot and Sabaot

River-lake nilotes
They are sometimes referred to as the southern Luos to differentiate them from other river lake nilotes in Uganda and Sudan like the Dinka, Shilluk, Bor , Anwak, Alur, Acholi, Jopaluo, Padhola, Nuer and Luo of Uganda.
They are believed to have originated from Bahr-el-Ghazal region of southern Sudan. They then migrated to Pubungu Pakwach in Uganda where they settled by 1450 AD. They later moved into Kenya. Their arrival caused the displacement of many Bantu-speaking peoples, notably the Gusii, Kuria and Luhya, who were forced into the highlands east and north of the lake.

Why did they leave Bahr-el-Ghazal region?
a) They might have been Escaping from clan or family feuds.
b) There was population pressure in their area of origin.
c) They were nomadic pastoralists in search of better grazing lands and water for their livestock
d) They were fleeing the outbreak of disease that affected both people and animals.
e) They were escaping famine and drought.
f) They fled constant attacks from their neighbours.
g) They were also looking for better fishing grounds.
h) They migrated to satisfy their spirit of adventure.
Their migration into Kenya began in the 15thc.
They moved in four distinct groups;
a) Joka-jok- people of jok. Was the first group to enter into Kenya from Uganda. They first settled at Ramogi hills in Kadimo Siaya district displacing the earlier Gusii settlers. Two of Jok’s sons fled to south Nyanza to form the Karachuonyo and Wanjare clans. Thisgroup spread to Sakwa, Alego, Asembo and other parts of Nyanza.
b) Joka-Owiny. Owiny moved from Uganda to settle in Sogoma in Alego with his group in the 17thc. He was both a great fighter and leader (Ruoth). He came to be known as
Owiny Sigoma and his people Joka Ruoth. This group settled in Kisumu, Nyakach and South Nyanza.
c) Joka-Omolo. They came from northern Banyoro and settled temporarily in Ibanda and Bukoli before moving to Ugenya and Gem. They displaced the Abagusii and Abalogoli out of Yimbo. They spread to Alego and then across winam gulf into south nyanza.
d) The abasuba. They are Bantu in origin but are associated with the Luo. They are a mixture of Bantu refugees from Uganda who intermarried with the Luo. They settled in the Lake Victoria islands of Mfangano and Rusinga and also in gwasi area. They adopted Luo culture.

Effects of Luo Migration
a) The settlement of the Luo in Kenya led to increase in population in the area.
b) Their arrival intensified conflicts between them and other communities in the area over limited resources. For example they displaced the western Bantu like the Abaluhyia.

Abakuria and Abagusii
c) There were intermarriages between the Luo and the Luhyia and Maasai groups in the area.
d) The Luo assimilated some Luhyia communities living in the area.
e) Their settlement enhanced trade with different communities; they exchanged livestock products for grains with the Luhyia.
f) The Luo adopted agriculture as a result of interacting with the Bantus who were farmers.

Plain Nilotes
They include the Maasai and Samburu (Maa speakers), Iteso, Turkana and Njemps.
The Plain Nilotes entered Kenya at around AD 1000 from an area north of Lake Turkana.
Why they moved into Kenya:
a) Drought and famine that broke out in their cradle land.
b) Population increase which resulted into population pressure in their cradle land.
c) The external pressure from stronger neighbours.
d) Internal conflicts from among other Nilotic groups concerning the ownership of grazing lands and watering areas.
e) Epidemics and diseases like sleeping sickness affecting both humans and animals.
f) They moved due to their desire for adventure, i.e. they wanted to find out what was happening in other areas.
g) Need for water and pasture for their animals forced them to move.
Their first point of settlement was near Mount Moroto in eastern Uganda by AD 1000. From here, several groups like the Jie, Iteso, Turkana and Karamojong emerged, with the Iteso settling in Uganda in 17thc before expanding into western Kenya by 19thc. The Turkana extended northwards to their present area.

The effects of the migration and settlement of the Iteso
a) The settlement of the Iteso in their present region led to increase in population in the area.
b) It intensified conflicts between them and other communities in the area over limited resources.
c) There were intermarriages between the Iteso and the Luhyia groups in the area.
d) Cultural interaction giving rise to enriched cultures.
e) Some people were displaced from the area with the arrival of the Iteso. E.g. the Maasai and some Kalenjin communities.
f) The Iteso assimilated some communities living in the area.
g) Their settlement enhanced trade with different communities; they exchanged livestock products for grains with the Luhyia.
h) The Iteso adopted agriculture as a result of interacting with the Bantus who were farmers

The Maasai
-Their movement from north of lake Turkana is closely associated with the original Kalenjin speakers. By AD 1500, the Maasai begun to move separately southwards between Mt,. Kenya and Mt. Elgon. By 19thc , they had settled in Uasin Gishu and even spread into Tanzania along the Rift Valley.
-As they moved, they assimilated the Sirikwa peoples. They also waged war against the neighbouring Kalenjin, Akamba and Abagusii.
-In the 1850s the Maasai experienced many natural disasters like drought, famine and cattle diseases leading to decline of their power. They also experienced civil wars between the Kwavi (iloikop) and the Purko (Ilmaasai) sections. When Oloibon Mbatian died, his two sons Sendeyo and Lenana became involved in a protracted succession dispute. They were also weakened by wars with the Agikuyu. Their power came to an end with the coming of British rule.

Effects of the migration and settlement of the plain nilotes into Kenya
a) The migration and settlement of the Maasai in their present region led to increase in population in the area.
b) As they migrated, into Kenya, the Maasai pushed and displaced the communities they came across. For example, they subdued the Nandi in the 18thc.
c) The Maasai influenced the fighting tactics of other groups in Kenya.
d) The Maasai absorbed the southern Cushites such as the Dorobo.
e) There were intermarriages between the Maasai and the Akamba, Agikuyu and even the Kalenjin groups in the area.
f) There was Cultural interaction giving rise to enriched cultures. They adopted some cultural practices from the southern Cushites for example, the age-set systems circumcision and clitoridectomy. They also adopted some Kalenjin vocabulary.
g) Their settlement enhanced trade with different communities; they exchanged livestock products for grains with the Luyia.
h) A section of the Maasai adopted agriculture as a result of interacting with their agricultural neighbours in the Rift Valley. The Kwavi Maasai became mixed farmers.
i) They influenced Communities like the Nandi who adopted the institution of Prophet or diviner from the institution of Laibon among the Maasai.

The Highland Nilotes
They comprise the Kalenjin speakers namely the Tugen, Nandi, Kipsigis, Marakwet, Keiyo, Pokot and Sabaot. They are believed to be the earliest Nilotic speakers in Kenya. This is evidenced from the narratives of their neighbours like the Luo.
Their traditions point their original homeland to be a place to the north-western part of Kenya, between Sudan and Ethiopia.
Why they migrated:
a) They might have been Escaping from internal enemies causing clan or family feuds.
b) There was population pressure in their area of origin forcing them to look for new land for settlement.
c) They were fleeing the outbreak of diseases and epidemics that affected both people and animals.
d) They were escaping famine and drought.
e) They fled constant attacks from their neighbours.
f) They were also looking for better lands for cultivation.
g) The migrated to satisfy their spirit of adventure.
They began migrating from their cradle land in around 600AD. By 700AD, some Kalenjin groups like the Sirikwa were already occupying the rift valley.
Some were later pushed out of the Mt. Elgon region by the incoming Bantu and plain nilotes. Those that remained include the Bok, Bongomek and Kony. The Terik later migrated to western Kenya and greatly borrowed from the Bantu, adopting a new name, Tiriki.

The Nandi.
They were pushed out of the Mt. Elgon region between 1700 and 1800 by the incoming Maasai.
The decline of the Maasai in the 19thc made them rise to become a formidable group that conducted raids against their neighbours like the Abaluhyia and Luo.
Their power only declined due to colonization.

The Kipsigis
They are believed to have separated together with the Nandi from other Kalenjin groups at around Mt. Elgon region around AD1600. They moved south east to Teo, near Lake Baringo. Due to the Maasai attacks, they moved westwards to Tambach where they stayed for a long period. They later moved southwards to Rongai near Nakuru.
They only separated from the Nandi due to drought and the Maasai Raids on the Nandi.
The Kipsigis moved further south to Kericho while the Nandi moved to Aldai during the 2nd half of 18thc. The Kipsigis settled at Kipsigis Hills forming a strong community that assimilated the legendary Sirikwa and some Maasai and Abagusii groups. They were for a long time allies of the Nandi.

What factors contributed to the Nandi and Kipsigis split during the mid 18th century.
a) Maasai attacks on the two communities forcing each group to find its own means of Defence.
b) Drought which caused scattering in search of food and pasture.
c) Constant conflicts over the limited resources in the region leading to warfare and final split.

Results of the Highland nilotes migration
a) It increased intercommunity conflicts in the region.
b) Some of the Kalenjin groups assimilated Bantu cultures while their culture was also assimilated by other groups. The Terik for example borrowed many Bantu vocabularies and customs.
c) They intermarried with other groups in the region, such as the Abagusii and the Luo.
d) Their migration increased trading activities in the region.
e) They displaced the people they came across e.g. the Abagusii and the Kwavi Maasai

Explain the results of the interactions between the various Kenyan communities during the pre-colonial period.
a) Through the inter-tribal wars, there was loss of lives and destruction of property hence economic decline.
b) Many communities were displaced as new ones arrived. E.g when the Luos arrived, Abagusii and sections of the Abaluhyia were displaced. Etc.
c) The constant raids as a means of interaction led to some communities seeking for refugee in secure places. E.g the Abagusii too refugee in the present Kisii highland due to the Kipsigis, Nandi and Maasai raids in 1800AD.
d) A sense of unity developed among some communities e.g. among the Luo, as a means of Defence against attacks by the Maasai, Nandi and Abaluhyia.
e) Tension between various communities was reduced as they interacted through intermarriages e.g. between the Agikuyu and the Maasai.
f) Some new customs found their way into various communities. E.g the Bantu and the nilotes learned of circumcision and age set system from the southern Cushites.
g) New technology infused into various communities. E.g. the Bantu and the nilotes learned the art of cattle milking and bleeding, irrigation and manuring from the southern Cushites.
h) Specialization emerged mainly due to inter-community trade in the region.
i) There was also increased wealth in some communities. For example through the trade between the Agikuyu and the Akamba, some Agikuyu gained wealth.
j) New economic activities sprung up in some communities. E.g. the Maasai adopted crop cultivation from the Agikuyu.
k) The Bantu language was enriched through the borrowing of some vocabulary from the southern Cushites.
l) The Abakuria were able to develop into a distinct ethnic group as a result of constant raids from the Maasai and the Luo.


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