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Kenya Nandi District

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Nandi District

The Nandi district lies close to the Lake Victoria, bordering Kakamega and Kissumu districts.

The Nandi Tribe

The Nandi is a Kenyan ethnic group or tribe living in the highland areas of the Nandi Hills in Rift Valley Province; they form a sub-group of the Kalenjin. Before British colonization, they were sedentary cattle-herders, sometimes also practicing agriculture; their settlements were more or less evenly distributed rather than being grouped into villages. Like other Nilotic peoples, they were noted warriors. They traditionally practice circumcision of both sexes as a rite of initiation into adulthood. Boys' circumcision festivals took place about every 7 and a half years, and boys circumcised at the same time are considered to belong to the same age set; like other Nilotic groups, these age sets were given names from a limited fixed cycle. About four years after this festival, the previous generation officially handed over defense of the country to the newly circumcised youths. Girls' circumcision, excising the clitoris, took place in preparation for marriage. They traditionally worship a supreme deity, Asis (literally "Sun"), as well as venerating the spirits of ancestors. They were divided into a variety of clans, each with a particular "totem" animal which its members could not eat. Their land is divided into six "counties" (emet): Wareng in the north, Masop in the east, Soiin/Pelkut in the south, Aldai and Chesumei in the west, and Em-gwen in the center. The Orkoiyot, or medicine man, was traditionally acknowledged as an overall leader. The Orgoiyot led not only in spiritual matters but also during wars, as evidenced during the war between the British colonials building the railway and the Nandi warriors. The leader at the time was Koitalel Arap Samoei who was killed by a British soldier. The Nandi have a reputation for courage and swiftness (the latter statistically proven.) In precolonial times, they also enjoyed a fearsome reputation as fighters; Arab slave-traders and ivory-traders took care to avoid the area, and the few that dared attempt to traverse it were killed.

 

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