Pokot People


The Pokot people live in the western Pokot and Baringo districts of Kenya and in eastern Karmoja in Uganda.
The Pokot history is a complicated one, they seem to be related to many peoples of the region, with ties to the Nilo-Hematic people from the north and the Bantu from central Africa.  The Pokot have two main sub groups. Due to their nomadic life, adopted by most of the Pokot, they have interacted with many different peoples throughout their history. Social customs of neighbors were thus incorporated into their way of life and marriage with other communities was common.  Their neighbors, the Turkana of Kenya and the Karamojo of Uganda seem to have had the greatest influence on the Pokot. 
The Pokot society is governed through a series of age grades, and membership to any specific group would be determined by the age at which a Pokot would go through their initiation into that group or society. For the men it is usually between the ages of fifteen and twenty, whereas for the women, it is around twelve.  Young people are allowed to for matrimonial binds once the initiation has been completed as well as begin taking part in the local econimc functions. There are close bonds formed within the initiation groups, that are functional in future political ties as they move through the ranks of the tribal structure. When Pokot peoples reach old age, they get a certain degree of status and the respect that goes with that.  Elders have responsibilities to the Pokot such as presiding over important tribal decisions, festivals and religious celebrations.
The Pokot are mostly cattle herders/farmers, but about a quarter are cultivators, mostly growing corn. However, whether a cultivator or pastoralist, the measure of wealth among the Pokot is determined by the number of cows one owns. Cows are used for barter, and exchange,  which further goes into "bride wealth".  A man is permitted to take more than one wife, as long as he has enough cows to offer her family in exchange for her hand in marriage.  Their cattle are hardly ever slaughterd for meat as they are far more valuable alive. The cattle also provide milk, butter, and cheese which are an important part of the diet of the Pokot.
The Pokot believe in Tororot being the supreme diety, and prayers and libations are offered to him during a variety of tribal festivals and dances that are overseen by the Pokot elders.  The Pokot also have diviners that are responsible for maintaining the spiritual balance of the community. The Pokot are superstitious and believe in sorcery, and call on various forms of protective talismans to ward off the ill will of any sorcerors.  The Pokot also revere other dieties such as the sun, moon and the spirit of death.
Pokot Bowl A     Pokot Wooden Bowl B     Pokot Wooden Bowl D     Pokot Bowl D