El-Molo fishermen on the shores of Lake Turkana (1975) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation
The people of Kenya
Africa is changing fast: ancient cultures dominated by tribal customs, the rhythm of the seasons, rites, age groups and elders, exist side by side with airports and skyscrapers. Nowhere is this contrast greater than in Kenya. Kenya’s renowned photojournalist, Mohamed Amin, spent years documenting the peoples and customs of a land where man himself is believed to have taken his first steps.
Rendille woman working as a goat herder by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation
The Rendille have a close affinity with the Somali – probably extending back several centuries. The composite character of the Rendille people is reflected in their folklore, which stresses the inter-tribal links and migrations of the past.
A Rendille mother and son by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation
Long ago, say the Rendille, nine Somali warriors herding camels from a remote camp got lost. After walking several days, they reached where the Samburu lived. Before being permitted by the Samburu elders to marry women from that tribe, the strangers were instructed to discard their customs and throw away the Qur’an, the Holy Book of Islam. The Somalis agreed – and from these first unions with Samburu women grew the Rendille tribe.
An El-Molo boy with his catch - a crocodile (1975) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation
The El-Molo are arguably the smallest tribe in Kenya. The tribe has lived close to an untouched life on the shores of Lake Turkana. But with the rapid pace of development in the region over the last couple of decades, their traditional way of life is fast fading away. The El-Molo believe that all the fish, hippo and crocodile which live in the Lake belong to them. They refuse to listen to those who claim that the Lake’s life is not theirs.
People of Africa by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation
The Turkana inhabit the whole north-west of Kenya between Lake Turkana to the east and the escarpment marking the Uganda boundary to the west. Turkana men herd and water the cattle, rub their horns with fat and sing and dance to them in the evening. Milk and blood is the main diet and cattle provide the hides for sleeping mats, to cover their huts against rain, and to make sandals.
A Boran elder (1975) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation
A section of the Oromo-speaking peoples of Southern Ethiopia, the Boran moved south into the arid areas of northeast Kenya to settle around Moyale, Marsabit and even further south, along the Ewaso Ngiro river and in the Isiolo District. They are predominantly cattle holders, although camels, sheep and goats are also kept by the Borana.
Ostrich Feather finery of the Moran (1987) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation
One of the most fascinating and photogenic tribes of East Africa are the Maasai. Until the coming of the white man, the Maasai held sway over vast areas of Kenya and Tanzania. The Maasai are in a race against time to preserve their heritage for future generations. Their traditional cultural knowledge is at risk of disappearing. Rarely witnessed by outsiders, one of the most important age group ceremonies of the nomadic Maasai tribe are the spectacular Eunoto rites that mark the initiation of the Moran to junior elder status.
Young Samburu women (1976) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation
A nomadic Maa-speaking people, the Samburu live mainly in Maralal and the border zones of the Marsabit districts of northern Kenya between Lake Turkana and the Ewaso Ngiro river. Here, a newly-wed Samburu girl is dressed in her finery.
A young Orma woman displays traditional arm bangles by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation
The Orma people are the remnants of the once all-conquering Oromo people who swept through north-east Kenya to beyond the Tana river several centuries ago. Pastoralists, the Orma are renowned both for their tall, slender physique and handsome Cushitic features, as well as for their herds of white, long-horned Zebu-type cattle – some of the finest in Africa.
Ilchamus fisherman with his catch of the day by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation
Unlike their cattle-herding Samburu and Maasai relatives, the Maa-speaking Ilchamus are also agriculturalists. During the long droughts, the Ilchamus graze their stock along the receding shoreline of Lake Baringo, and many augment their subsistence economy by fishing.