Who Are Okiek’s People?

Okiek’s people

The Okiek people are native to the forests of Mau and Mount Elgon in Kenya and in the northern part of Tanzania. Occasionally they are referred to as Akiek or Ogiek. It was believed that their population was 36.869 – however, the speakers of the Akiek language were thought to be as low as 500.

Linguistic dialogues by Ogiek

There are more than three documented Ogiek dialogues, but only three groups dominate. These are Kinare, Sogoo and Akiek.

The Kinare dialect is spoken at Kinare Place in Kenya, which is part of the Rift Valley slope. This dialect unfortunately has become extinct.

The Sogoo language, also called Sokoo, is spoken in the southern part of the Mau forest between the Ewaso Ng’iro and Amala as by Heine 1973. Rottland, who followed the path of Bernd Heine, found the village of Sogoo in 1977 and pointed that there were other Sogoo villages based on what the others occupied (Rottland 1982: 25). These Sogoo speakers interact with his immediate neighbor Kipsigis, a subgroup of the Kalenjin tribe and can distinguish their language distinctly from the Kipsigis speakers.

Akiek is a dialect spoken in Tanzania by smaller groups in the prairies of southern Arusha, a Masai territory.

Socio-economic activities

Beekeeping is traditionally a social and economic activity popular among people who identify as Ogiek. It was done by men, especially by the elderly in society. Young but old men accompanied their fathers to strategic points where hives had been placed to learn traditional methods of keeping bees and trees to hang hives. They have also practiced hunting and gathering to supplement the honey they collect.

Territorial disputes

The Ogiek people have raised many claims against the Kenyan government regarding cruel treatments by illegally forcing them to abandon their homeland. And in 2009, the Ogiek presented a case to the African Court on Human and Popular Rights in Arusha against the Kenyan government for denying their land and the rights of indigenous people.

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