Fieldnote:

On this page, I am going to introduce my recent fieldwork and studies. This time, I'd like to talk about my field: Rendilleland & Rendille people.

Rendilleland
  • Location: Some 50000km˛ area in the southern part of Marsabit District, north-central Kenya. The area is from the east shores of Lake Turkana to the west foot of Mount Marsabit. The northern boundary is marked by Chalbi Desert, and the southern by Mt. Ndodo. and Mt. Mathews. Only two towns(Korr & Kargi) are located in central lowland. Here is one of the driest regions in East Africa.
  • Topography: Central lowland is an area of semi-rocky desert with an elevation of 400~600m. There is a zone of black lava extending from the east shores of Lake Turkana to the west foot of Mt. Marsabit. The southern mountainous regions are more than 1500m high.
  • Climate: Average temperature is from 22 to 39ēC. Four seasons: long-rain(Mar.~May), long-dry(Jun.~Oct.), short-rain(Nov.~Dec.), short-dry(Jan.~Feb.). Rainfall is unpredictable and short or long drought repeats in every few years.
  • Vegetation: Bushland and thicket, semi-desert grassland cover more that 80% of all area. Acacia and Commiphora grow predominantly in the upper and middle strata whereas Sericomopsis, Blepharis and Indigofera occur in the lower strata.
  • Fauna: Carnivores--black-backed jackal, hyena, lion(?) ; Herbivorous--gerenuk, gazelle, oryx, dik-dik, hare etc.
  • Water Resources: Alkaline spring in Kollale(some 20Km from Kargi), digged wells around Kargi and Korr, surface water after the rain.
Rendille
  • Population: about 27000 (1990 Kenya Population Census)
  • Language: Rendille language (a Cushitic language related to Somali)
  • Descent group: Two moieties: Belesi Bahai(with 5 patrilineal clans) and Belesi Berri(with 4 patrilineal clans)
  • Age system: Composed of age-grades, age-sets,and generation-sets. Tribal circumcision ceremony is held in every 14 years, after this ceremony circumcised young men form a new age-set(from boyhood to warriorhood).
  • Subsistence activities: If you have travelled east African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania and have seen my pictures of Rendille people, you might say: Oh! they look like Maasai - a famous tribe with beautiful beads ornaments and brave warriors(moran) that had dominated east African savanna for more than 3 centuries before European colonists came. Although Rendille look like Maa speakers(Nilotic linguitic groups such as Maasai, Samburu etc.), they are a defined and cohesive group(classified as a Cushite linguistic group).
    Rendille are essentially subsistence pastoralists, graze their camels, cattle and small stock(goats and sheep) in the arid lowlands, subsist exclusively on the milk and blood of their camel herds and meat and trade from their small stock for maize flour, tea leaves, sugar and household goods. Rendille live in two different types of residences, the settlement and the herding camp. The settlement is large and occupied mainly by sub-clan agnates and their families. According to the type of livestock to be herded, herding camps are distinguished into camel camp, cattle camp and small stock camp. Married men and women with small babies often live in the settlement, whereas young boys, girls and young men(her: warrior) who work in camps as herders support the livestock based economy.
My interest and research theme:
  • Current pastoral activities and adaptation strategies.
  • Pastoral ecology in respect to livestock herding movements.
  • Social-ecological changes relate to drought, political insecurity and government and international agencies' development projects.

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