Information about the Pokot

The Pökoot people (commonly spelled Pokot, in older literature Suk) live in the West Pokot and Baringo districts of Kenya and in the eastern borderland of Uganda, east of the Karimojong area. They speak Pökoot, a Kalenjin language of the Southern Nilotic language family. A 1994 figure of SIL puts the total number of Pökoot speakers at 264 000, while the only little more recent Schladt (1997:40) gives the more conservative estimate of 150 000 people, presumably based on the figures found in Rottland (1982:26) who puts the number at slightly more than 115 000.

Based on areal and cultural differences, the Pökoot people can be divided into two groups (Rottland 1982): the Hill Pökoot and the Plains Pökoot. The Hill Pökoot live in the rainy highlands in the west and in the central south of the Pökoot area and are both farmers and pastoralists. The Plains Pökoot live in the dry and infertile plains, herding cows, goats and sheep.

Many Pökoot people from the present eastern part of the Pökoot area claim that they come from the hilly areas of northern Cherengani (Bollig 1990). Halfway through the nineteenth century, they seem to have expanded their territory rapidly into the lowlands of the Kenyan Rift Valley, mainly at the expense of the Laikipia Maasai people.

  • Bollig, Michael (1990) 'An outline of pre-colonial Pokot history', Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere, 23, pp. 73–91.
  • Reckers, Ute (1992) Nomadische Viehalter in Kenya : die Ost-Pokot aus human-ökologischer Sicht (Arbeiten aus dem Institut für Afrika-Kunde vol. 83). Hamburg: Institut für Afrika-Kunde im Verbund der Stiftung Deutsches Übersee-Institut. ISBN 3-928049-12-7
  • Rottland, Franz (1982) Die Südnilotischen Sprachen: Beschreibung, Vergelichung und Rekonstruktion (Kölner Beiträge zur Afrikanistik vol. 7). Berlin: Dietrich Reimer. (esp. pp. 26, 138-139)
  • Schladt, Matthias (1997) Kognitive Strukturen von Körperteilvokabularien in Kenianischen Sprachen (Afrikanistische Monographien vol. 8). Köln: Institut für Afrikanistik / Universität zu Köln. (esp. pp. 40–42)

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