A cushitic people of Kenya

Kenya's Northeastern Province is home to the country's Somali tribe, a Cushitic tribe that also resides in larger numbers in the neighboring Republic of Somalia and Ethiopia.

Kenyan Somalis population is slightly above two million people. They are also the fifth largest community in Kenya and the largest tribe among all of Kenya's Cushitic tribes.

Their territory, formerly known as the Northern Frontier Districts, is characterized by a harsh, dry climate with some desert areas.

Other Cushitic tribes in Kenya include the Borana, Rendile, Gabbra and the Galla tribes.

History and origin of the Somali people

All Somali people are believed to have originated in the Ogaden region of southern Ethiopia. Today, Somalis are the only tribe found in their homeland country of the Republic of Somalia. Members of this tribe also reside in the country of Djibouti.

Somaliland was originally colonized by the French, British and Italians. In 1960, a unified and independent Somalia was formed after Italy and Britain joined their territories. However, the French territory remained separate, gaining independence in 1977 and forming the country of Djibouti.

Since the 1990s, tension and rivalry has remained high among the various clans in the Republic of Somalia as they continue to fight for land and herding areas. The lack of a political system that takes care of all Somalis has led to civil war and conflict, as well as the destruction of Mogadishu and most of the southern parts of Somalia. To date, there has been no lasting peace in the Republic of Somalia. However, the Somali tribe in Kenya has maintained close historical ties with their kin in Somaliland.

Culture, religion and food of the Somalis

The Somali people have practiced Islam for such a long time that many Somali customs are derived from this religion. Islamic influence is manifested in the Somali way of dressing, which is very similar to that of the Swahili people. However, unlike Swahili men who wear a small white cap on their heads, the Somali men often wear a turban.

Polygamy is widely practiced among the Somali since Islamic laws allow a man to have as many as four wives. The women's role is to take care of their homes and their husbands, while men watch over the camel flocks.

In their native Northeastern Province, Somalis practice a nomadic pastoralist way of life, keeping herds of camels, sheep, indigenous cattle, and some goats. As such, milk and meat are part of the Somali diet. Another food the Somali people enjoy is pasta, a food acquired from the Italians during Somali's colonial past.

Somali language

The Somali tribe speaks the Somali language. It the only language spoken by the entire Somali people; however, variations and dialects of the Somali language are spoken by different clans living in Somalia, Djibouti, and Ethiopia, as well as in Kenya. Linguistic skills including poetry and good speech are highly valued among all Somali clans.

Lifestyle of Kenya's Somali people

Today, many Somalis live away from their native home of Northeastern Province, residing in almost every major town in Kenya where they engage in business and trade. Somalis in Kenya make some of the successful business entrepreneurs.

Related Information

TOP of the Somali Tribe of Kenya

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