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Kalenjin Tribes in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania

The Kalenjin people of Kenya are a well-known ethnic group.

Many times, the Kalenjin people have topped world news for their consistency in producing athletic champions.

But did you know that Kalenjin also live in neighboring countries, such as Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania, where they have established communities with their unique traditions and customs?

Let’s find out.

Kalenjin Tribes in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, the Kalenjin people are called the Sabaot. They primarily reside in the Oromia region, close to the border with Kenya.

Legend has it that they migrated to Ethiopia with only ten families, hence the name “Sabaot”.

Sabaot’ means “ten” in Kalenjin, though, in some sub-tribes like the Kipsigis and Nandi, ten is spelled as ‘taman’.

They are livestock keepers. Some grow crops on small scale.

Despite being far from their ancestral homeland, the Sabaot have kept their cultural identity alive.

They speak the Kalenjin language and maintain close ties with their kins in Kenya.

It is no surprise to find many Northen Kalenjin sub-tribes like the Pokot and Marakwet even intermarrying with the sabaot of Ethiopia.

Kalenjin in Uganda

The Kalenjin people of Uganda consist primarily of the Sebei people.

While most of the Kenyan tribes migrated East and Southwards, the Sebei people are the only tribe that ventured to the West.

The majority of them have lived in the Kapchorwa district of Uganda for more than 150 years.

Kapchorwa borders Kenya, which makes it easy for the Sebei people to meet and interact with their Kenyan kinsmen.

Like most Kalenjins in Kenya, the Sebei people are famous for their athletic abilities.

They have raised Uganda’s flag many times during global athletic competitions.

The Sebei people mostly keep livestock and carry out small-scale farming.

The Sebei, however, have their own unique culture and traditions.

They have also adopted some aspects of Ugandan culture, such as the Bagisu circumcision ritual, which is a rite of passage for boys in the region.

Kalenjin in Tanzania

In Tanzania, the Kalenjin people are known as the Sangaiwe.

It is the only Kalenjin tribe that ventured far south and finally settled in Tanzania.

Today, they live in the area around Mt. Kilimanjaro while others live in the Arusha region.

Legend has it that the Maasai pushed them far south, therefore, cutting their connection with their fellows in Kenya.

When they could not trace their way back home, they resorted to living in Northern Tanzania.

The Sangaiwe people share a lot of similarities with the Nandi of Kenya, especially in speech.

They, however, have their unique customs and traditions.

For, instance, they carry out the practice of Chaga coffee-growing culture.

Despite being far from Kenya, the Sangaiwe people have maintained a strong connection with their kins in Kenya, especially the Nandi with whom they share a striking similarity.

They regularly visit their Kenyan kins to keep familial ties alive.

Closing Thoughts

The migration of the Kalenjin people to neighboring countries is a fascinating aspect of their history that is often overlooked.

Despite being far from their ancestral homeland, they have managed to maintain their cultural identity and establish thriving communities in new territories.

It is a testament to their resilience and adaptability as one people.

So, whether you are a sports fan, a culture enthusiast, or just curious about the history of the Kalenjin people, the story of their migration to neighboring countries is worth exploring.

Here are more posts about the Kalenjin community that you might want to check:

Kalenjin Age Sets: Latest Developments

Kalenjin Proverbs and Riddles (Plus their Meanings)

Useful Kalenjin Greetings and Salutations

Kalenjin Love Messages: Here’s How to Express Love in Kalenjin

Kenyalogue Writer


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