Ekicholong

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Turkana tribe is one of the tribes that are still loyal to their culture and beliefs. They cover major part of the Northwestern Kenya endowed with native tree species that have always helped them in various aspects of life ranging right from medicines, fashion, religion, politics, food, shelters, education, mobility and so on. All these aspects are accompanied by specific artefacts associated with them and today we will narrow down and focus on ekicholong.

Ekicholong

Ekicholong” is a traditional stool that is specifically owned by turkana men whereby there is “ekicholong” for young men and for the old men. According to the Turkana tribe, not all boys can own the stool unless he reaches ten years, the age that he is believed to be mature enough to understand and conceptualize the customs surrounding the “ekicholong” . The artefact is multipurpose as it serves both as a stool and a headrest(pillow) while sleeping owing to the nature of the turkana men as they can sleep wherever the night falls while doing the family or personal errands.

A man from Turkana community uses “ekicholong” as a pillow

This stool is small and portable with a flat surface and its sturdy nature makes it ideal for sitting and sleeping as well. “Ekicholong” is usually curved from native trees like “edome”, “ekhalale” and “esekhon/esokhon” found across the turkana expanse. The turkana men carry this stool with them whenever they go and for those who have undergone the turkana rite of passage known as asapan it’s imperative to say that, “until death do them apart”.


All the turkana men own an ekicholong as a symbol of honor, status quo and authority in their social set up and women are accustomed not sit on it or even touch the male ekicholong as it is strongly believed that if a woman touches or sits on it, attracts a bad omen to the owner and the woman which is tantamount to death unless cleansing is done.
The use and beliefs that surround this artefact can be traced back from their forefathers and have been passed on as a cultural heritage from generation to generation.

A tTurkana Elder comfortably sited on ekicholong

The turkana people have great respect for each other’s ekicholong and cannot use unless there is need. Therefore, to use one’s ekicholong, one has to seek approval from the owner and before sitting on it he has to spit on its surface as a show of respect to the owner. Later after using the stool the borrower erases the mark created on the ground by foot or hand before leaving the spot.

Nonetheless, it is worth noting that a young man can only borrow from his age group and not from their Elders and vice versa. Usually, the journey for the ekicholong and the owner always ends at the gravesite where upon the owner’s death, the ekicholong is placed on top of his grave as their final resting place.

In other occasions, due to the respect associated with the stool, the turkana people believe that it is a show of respect and honor gifting a foreigner an ekicholong a gesture that one is welcomed and considered as a part of the community. For instance, during the 2023 Turkana cultural festival duped Tobongulore, the fifth president of the Republic of Kenya H.E Dr. William Ruto was accorded a Turkana honor adorned with attire and given an ekicholong as depicted in the slide above.

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