The Turkana of Kenya, numbering about 340,000, are a nilotic people. They live in northwest Kenya in the Turkana region, an arid and hot region bordering Lake Turkana in the east. The Turkana speak a language they call Ng'aturk(w)ana, by is know to the rest of the world as Turkana.
Traditionally the men and women of the Turkana wear wraps of rectangular woven material, however, the other obtects of adornment differ between the men and the women. The men wear their wraps similar to tunics and carry wrist knives made of steel and goat hide. They Also carry stools which they call ekicholongs and they utlilize them as simple chairs so as to avoid having to sit on the hot midday sand. These stools also double as headrests, keeping the head elevated and out of the sand, they protect ceremonial head decorations from being damaged. Turkana men are also known for carrying several walking staffs as once, normally one is used for walking and balancing, but another usually longer stick is kept to prod livestock while herding.
Turkana women wear beaded necklaces, but also wear their hair in a braided mohawk and adorned with beads.
THe Turkana rely on a few rivers, (Turkwel River, Kerio River) and when these rivers are in flood, new sediment and water extend onto the riverplain that is cultivated after heavy rainstorms which don't occur very often. When dry, the riverbeds are dug up to create an open-pit well which is then used for human consumption as well as for watering livestock.
The Turkana, like many other African tribal groups, hold lovestock as a very important aspect of their culture. Livestock is not only seen as a producer of milk and meat, but also as a form of currency, often used for bridal dowries. The Turkana herd goats, camels, donkeys and sheep, often a Turkana male is give a single animal as a young man, he then will accumulated more via animal husbandry. In turn, once sufficient livestock has been accumulated, the animals will be used to negotiate for a wife. Turkana men can take on more than one wife, however the number of wives he has is limited by the livestock he is able to accumulate.
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