Borana Pastoralists

Learn how the Borana made their living off the land

Borana man attire by Joy AdamsonNational Museums of Kenya

Meet the Borana

The Borana were nomadic pastoralists who herded livestock including cattle, goats and sheep. They lived in semi-arid areas, and also practiced small scale farming on fertile lands in the higher regions around Moyale, and in the river basins in Isiolo county. 

Arrow (1974)National Museums of Kenya

Traditionally men took care of the cattle and bled cows for food. This arrow (lawe) was used to shoot a cow in the neck from a distance when blood was needed for drinking.

Bleeding arrowNational Museums of Kenya

First, the neck of the cow was tied with leather rope (gardi) then an arrow was shot into the flesh using a bow, going approximately one centimeter deep. The blood was collected in an okhole and mixed with milk.

Plough hookNational Museums of Kenya

The men were also responsible for ploughing the fields. This is a plough hook (wagal), used by men to hold the plough stick and metal plough in position. It was made of iron by a blacksmith. The iron was heated in fire until it was red hot, then hammered into shape.

Warrior BowNational Museums of Kenya

These ox ribs (chiruacha) were used for cutting the grass. They were cut from the left side of the rib cage because they were considered to be sharper than the ones on right side.    

Milk containerNational Museums of Kenya

These two containers were used for storing milk and meat. They were made from plant reeds and smeared with cow dung to make them air tight and waterproof.

ContainerNational Museums of Kenya

This container was used to store grains. It was made from woven sisal and smeared inside. It was placed in a holder to facilitate easy carriage. 

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