Kalenjin

From Academic Kids

The Kalenjin is a combination of seven tribes of a Nilotic ethnic group or tribe living in the Great Rift Valley in western Kenya. The Kalenjin population is estimated at roughly 3 million.

There are several smaller tribal groupings within the Kalenjin: Elgeyo, Kipsigis, Marakwet, Nandi, Pokot, Sabaot, Terik, Tugen.

They are pastoralists and are believed to have migrated to their present location from Sudan 2,000 years ago.

Until the early 1950s the Kenyan peoples now known as the Kalenjin did not have a common name; they were usually referred to as the 'Nandi-speaking tribes' by scholars and administration officials, a practice that did not immediately come to a halt after the adoption of the common name 'Kalenjin' (cf. Evans-Pritchard 1965). In the late 1940s and the early 1950s, several Nandi-speaking peoples united to assume the common name 'Kalenjin', a Nandi expression meaning I say (to you). Due to this effort, the peoples were transformed into a major ethnic group in Kenya. The Kalenjin make up about 12% of Kenya's population nowadays. The adoption of the name Kalenjin also involved a standardization of the different dialects of Nandi.

The languages of the Kenyan Kalenjin peoples are classified under the linguistic family of Kalenjin languages, which also encompasses languages spoken in Tanzania (e.g. Akie) and Uganda (e.g. Kupsabiny). Due to this even broader use of the term 'Kalenjin', it is common practice in linguistic literature to refer to the languages of the Kenyan Kalenjin peoples as the 'Nandi languages'.

The Kalenjin have been called by some "the running tribe." Since the mid-1960s, Kenyan men have earned the largest share of major honors in international athletics at distances from 800 meters to the marathon; the vast majority of these Kenyan running stars have been Kalenjin. From 1980 on, about 40% of the top honors available to men in international athletics at these distances (Olympic medals, World Championships medals, and World Cross Country Championships honors) have been earned by Kalenjin. In recent years, Kenyan women have become a major presence in international athletics at the distances; most of these women are also Kalenjin.

References

  • Evans-Pritchard, E.E. (1965) 'The political structure of the Nandi-speaking peoples of Kenya', in The position of women in primitve societies and other essays in social anthropology, pp. 59–75.
  • Omosule, Monone (1989) 'Kalenjin: the emergence of a corporate name for the 'Nandi-speaking tribes' of East Africa', Genève-Afrique, 27, 1, pp. 73–88.
  • Sutton, J.E.G. (1978) 'The Kalenjin', in Ogot, B.A. (ed.) Kenya before 1900, pp. 21–52.

See also

de:Kalendschin

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