Fascinating Facts about the Ogiek Community in Kenya

Kenya’s cultural diversity is an infinite pool of discovery. Every community has so much to offer, making Kenya one of the ultimate cultural hubs in Africa and the world in general. Today we take a closer look at one of the most intriguing communities in the country. Below are some mind-blowing facts about the otherwise, lesser-known group.

They go by many names

The Ogiek, who are less than 35,000 in number, are also known as Akiek, Okiek or the Dorobo. The latter name came from the Maasai community, which named their counterparts Il Torobo, to mean poor people.

They are hunters and gatherers

You may think that after colonization, all Kenyans shifted to the corporate way of doing things. However, the Ogiek are resilient with their traditional life of hunting and gathering for their survival. This is mainly why the Maasai refer to them as poor people. The Maasai believe anyone that does not have enough cattle to depend on for food and other economic needs is poor.

They are forest and mountain dwellers

The Ogiek build their homes in Forests and Mountains, mainly the Mt. Elgon and Mau Forests. They live in the simplest of ways and have a special relationship with the forest and its resources. In fact, their living in the forest is more beneficial than their evacuation because they know how to sustain the forest and its bounty.

They could be the original inhabitants of Kenya and East Africa

Unlike all other ethnic communities in Kenya, the Ogiek do not have a migration story. Their folklore revolves around their life in different mountains and forests of Kenya, but never outside. This shows that they could be the original founders of Kenya.

They are a tribe despite disputes

Many people argue that the Ogiek belong to the Kalenjin community. However the Ogieks maintain that they are a tribe by themselves. They are just very adaptive of their neighbour’s languages because it helps with trade and survival. Among the languages spoken by the Ogiek include Nandi, Kipsigis, Maasai and Luo. Their original tongue, Akiek, continues to diminish because of external influences.

They are timid and charming

According to a European researcher, the Ogiek people are some of the most shy of people. They thrive in isolation and avoid all sorts of confrontation from outside dwellers. Unfortunately, their peace has recently been disturbed given the constant conflict on the Mau Forest which they now inhabit.

They are self-sufficient

The Ogiek are a self-sufficient community with the only exception being Iron for their tools and spears. Otherwise, the Ogiek get everything they need for their survival in the forest. They mainly rely on honey, fruits and game meat of highly populous animals such as the hyrax and wild pig. Although they are originally hunters and gatherers, some have been forced to result to agriculture because of continued encroachment.