Ogiek Of Mt Elgon

A member of Ogiek Mt. Elgon community in traditional attire


The Ogiek of Mt. Elgon community are located in Chepkitale, Mt. Elgon. Some members of the community are also found in Chebuk, Matumbui and Endebes wards in Bungoma county. The population of the Ogiek of Mt. Elgon is about 18,000. 3000 of them are found in Chepkitale, Mt. Elgon.

They are a hunter gatherer community. Ogiek of Mt. Elgon perform various ceremonies including child naming ceremonies. Children in the culture are named after deceased members of the community, seasons and events. The naming ceremony involved milk and a beer guard known as takurkuryet (Round in shape).

Circumcision is also marked for members of the community above 20 years. Both male and female are circumcised. Circumcision a sign of a person coming from youth to adulthood. Once circumcised a person can marry or be married. Before circumcision, for the first born, there is a ceremony where a bull (yeytab kootyek) was slaughtered. A friend of the person who is being circumcised (usually a highly respectable member of the community) is involved.  The friend is known as Ng’iyoway. The friend is highly respected and cannot drink water but instead takes milk during the ceremony. At this stage, there is re-naming and formation age-sets. The age-set takes 16 years before another one begins.

The age sets among the Ogiek of Mau include: ohmomo, chepkuy, rimrim, somoinen, ntatwa, muchungu, korongoro, kwaimet, kaplelach, nyonngi, sawe.

Marriage for the Ogiek of Mt. Elgon people takes place after circumcision. There is courtship (Koyeyto) and then engagement. Acceptance of tobacco and beer by a person who wants to be married into a family is a sign of acceptance. Acceptance is only done after scrutinizing the character of the boy’s family. Dowry payment is also practiced within the community. In the olden times, dowry was paid using skin clothes (sambut, sumbet, makonget,aywet;axe). But when the animals came, members of the community began to pay using one or two cows. Overtime however, dowry is paid using six cows;

The Ogiek are underrepresented at both national and county government. There is one nominated MCA by the name of Faith Chesibok to represent their rights as an indigenous and minority group.  There is also another MCA by the name of Honorable Frankline Kengere.

Locally, the Ogiek of Mt. Elgon are guided by the communities by laws which highlight how issues ranging from resource use, discipline, conservation etc. are approached.

The Chepkitale Ogiek Governing Council also comprises of elders from the community who work towards ensuring that every operation runs smoothly and also conduct dialogue with state agencies and neighboring communities if need be.