Out of Town: All Roads Lead to The Marsabit- Lake Turkana Festival

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The annual Marsabit – Lake Turkana Festival offers an opportunity of a lifetime to understand the intricate details of each ethnicity living on the Eastern shores of Lake Turkana. Visit Marsabit county, home to some of the most prehistoric traditional practices that survived colonization. The Marsabit- Lake Turkana Festival guarantees a trip down the memory lane of a people unscathed by time.

Beyond Cultural Entertainment

The Marsabit – Lake Turkana Festival begun in 2008 as an initiative of 4 communities around Loiyangalani, principally sponsored by the German embassy.  The small town maintained as the Festival Site after Marsabit County took over the organization of the event from 2013. The Marsabit – Lake Turkana Festival has since grown in recognition to the point of being a nominee for the TAGORE International Award in 2015. This is as a result of the county’s main objective to promote peace through cross-cultural interaction by including 10 other tribes.

Loiyangalani Desert Museum

Loiyangalani Desert Museum

Loiyangalani is not well known outside Marsabit despite its rich collection of the region’s heritage and cultural diversity. In order to understand the cradle of mankind, visit the Desert Museum. The museum is atop a hill making great morning hike before the sun is too hot. Marvel at the scenic background of the Lake with its islands. Take a walk through the El Molo cultural artifacts.  Do listen attentively to the story of Lake Turkana’s formation and the myth of Sepenya.

Of Fishermen and Pastoralists

 Bantu group makes up 70% of Kenya’s population despite the majority of the land being occupied by the Nilotes and Cushites. These linguistic groups, particularly those of Eastern Kenya, are least known due to their dwindling numbers.

 Marsabit - Lake Turkana Festival

El Molo Girls

During The Marsabit- Lake Turkana Festival, ensure you take village tours to the communities living around the town and interact with the El-Molo, a tribe facing extinction.  El Molo loosely translates from Maasai to “those who make a living from other sources besides cattle”. Their neighbour, Samburu, refer to them as “the people who eat fish”.

El Molo Village

El Molo Village

The El Molo settlement is in a harsh environment of rocks and sand. Additionally, the alkaline waters of the Jade Lake are not fit for consumption. The El Molo’s fishing methods are quite intriguing in a lake whose depth lurks the Nile crocodile. In order to become warriors, the young men of El Molo have to hunt a hippo. This is the equivalent of a Samburu warrior hunting a lion.

Mingle with the other communities living around Loiyangalani such as:

  • Borana are nomadic pastoralists that mainly live in Saku, Waso and Moyale where the largest cattle market in the region is located. Some Borana people have settled around Mounts Kulal and Marsabit and therefore engage in farming.
Gabbra Dancers

Gabbra Dancers

  • Gabbra, the lions of the desert, are camel pastoralists of a Cushitic linguistic group. Gabra occupies the land between the Chalbi Desert and the highlands of Southern Ethiopia.
Rendille Dancers

Rendille Dancers

  • Rendille who are nomadic camel herders, historically separated from the Somali people when migrating from Ethiopia. The Somalis henceforth referred to Rendille as “Rertit” meaning ‘separated’ due to rejecting the land of Somalis.

Learn about 14 other tribes at The Marsabit – Lake Turkana Festival whose theme is Celebrating Social Cohesion through Cultural Diversity. Purchase the various arts and crafts as souvenirs of the festival.

Where To Sleep

Discover camps and inns around Lake Turkana and Marsabit National Reserve. These regions have the harshest climates in Kenya and as such expect bucket showers and pit latrines. Book the package for Turkana Festival on Jumia Travel.


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