The Rendille

Northern Kenya Nomads

The Rendille people, numbering approximately 60,000, live in the northern deserts of Kenya. Camels are their essential animal, and the development of boreholes has allowed them a less nomadic lifestyle. They live in “manyattas” or homesteads of 70-100 houses, and they wear beads and bright colors. The men undergo various rites of passage to bring them into adulthood; young girls are often spoken for at an early age and marry very young.

The Rendille live between the Muslims to the north and Christians to the south. They rejected Islam since Rendille believe prayer should be made with their faces toward the heavens, not on the ground. They practice a traditional, animistic religion which includes prayer to the moon (which is considered a god), animal sacrifices, and worship of ancestral spirits. They also have traditional religious practices that resemble those of Judaism. Their Passover-type ceremony called Sorio (“sacrifice to God”) includes the slaughtering of a sheep by the first-born son and putting the lamb’s blood on their doorposts. The name of their god is Wakh.

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