This is the final installment of the #TwendeUshago Loiyangalani series. #TwendeUshago is an activation by the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) that urges Kenyans to visit their rural areas and share what they love about their respective hometowns. In the Loiyangalani series, I have shown you our journey to the 19th to 21st May 2016 Marsabit-Lake Turkana Festival. The festival is always set in Loiyangalani, a budding town on the southern Coast of Lake Turkana.
The festival was put in place to strengthen ties among communities in Northern Kenya, many of whom have been at war with each other for several years. The feud is so bad between the Pokot and the Samburu, that if one of the two tribes shows up at the festival, the other isn’t likely to.
I have told you tales of the staff at Bomen Hotel Ltd Isiolo, I have shown you the beauty of Marsabit National Park, I have shared with you the gem that is Nomads Trail Hotel Marsabit and the food calamity that may await you in the Desert Oasis I call Malabo Resort Loiyangalani. Here, I will share with you the Faces of Northern Kenya. Northern Kenya is largely occupied by Cushitic-speaking tribes such as the Gabbra, Dassanach, Samburu, Somali, Oromo etc. How many cushites can you name?
Lemayian (left) is pictured here on his camel Lekaur. And is it just me or does Lekaur look like he’s smiling? He must be happy to see he has some fans. After all, he is the current Maralal Camel Derby champion. We met Lemayian and his friends on our way to Marsabit a few kilometres past Isiolo town where he was out training for this year’s camel derby. Lemaiyan’s advice to us, “A man always names his camel”.
Somewhere in the desert, we got a glimpse of a herd of camels grazing. I have never seen this many camels in my life. The herd had more than 50 camels.
This shepherd girl waves down the truck in hope of getting a bottle of water. It is around 11am, but it might as well be 3pm. The sun is angry today, like any other day in the desert.
She stares at the bottle of water in happy surprise, no doubt saying in her head “Wewe nitakumaliza!”- (You I will finish you).
Huts belonging to the Turkana built right beside the lake.
A Turkana girl seen fetching water at the lake.
Silhouettes of two young Turkana girls captured a few kilometres from Loiyangalani town.
The El-Molo children striking poses. The El-Molo are the smallest tribe in Kenya consisiting of 100 adults and 80 children. They have set up camp a bit far from Loiyangalani because they fear attacks by other communities. They live in isolation because of their low number.
One of the youngest El-Molo children. They are schooled by elders in the camp, but can join other children in the local school once they are old enough and if their parents can afford the school fees (500/- per term). Some of the children stay in school while others opt to become shepherds.
A young El-Molo girl just from her afternoon swim on the shores of Lake Turkana.
A group of El-molo kids posing by the lake and a shy boy with a killer pose in the background. The girl doing the thumbs up and ironically dressed in green is called Safaricom. She was born the day Safaricom set up their communications mast in Loiyangalani.
Larry’s hut is pictured here with the message “Happiness never comes to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.”
El-Molo women display their wares.
Gabbra women perform a dance among themselves during the 2016 Marsabit-Lake Turkana Festival. The festival tells the story of a group of communities and places in Kenya that are often ignored or talked about in tones of pity. The Faces of Northern Kenya tell the stories of people who have dared stay true to their culture, a people who are resilient in the face of aridity, a people whose energy cannot be contained. Much like the energy in this Gabbra woman’s hair.
You have to be there to feel the energy. You have to be there to hear the real stories. You have to visit Northern Kenya to get the true non-textbook experience.
Photos taken using LG Nexus 5