The origin of the turkana people can be traced back from the fairy-tale of the lost bulls (Ngimaniko) from jie and Atanayece from Moru Anayace. It began many years back when a group of young men from jie lost their bulls. The bulls were lost for some days and one day the elders asked young men if the lost bulls were found. After the elders realized that the bulls were never found, they asked the youths to organize for a search team of young men from the community.

They passed through mountains and valleys, rivers and plateaus and fought with wild animals on their way in search for the lost bulls. They endured inhospitable conditions from the scorching sun to the heavy rains and the threat from the communities they traversed with the aim of finding the lost bulls.

They traveled eastwards from the country of Jie in Uganda and descended to the escarpments bordering Uganda and Kenya. The men arrived at the head waters of River Tarach and were struck by the beauty of the land. The soils were very fertile, bushes very green as cold breezes blew freely from River Tarach towards its banks. The young men from jie saw the horizons where the sun touched the ground, and all was magnificent, they fell for the place.

While still in the search they noticed the bulls’ footprints and the dungs which seemed to be wet. So, they decided to follow the traces that led them to the caves where they realized the human footprints that hinted the occupant did not have a company and lived in the caves. They knew that the occupant will return and the animals too which they could tell from their droppings. So, they waited for the occupant in the evening and to their surprise she arrived so did the bulls.

The woman welcomed them with open arms, fed them with wild berries and meat from wild animals. Since they were very tired from long journeys, they decided to stay for some days to regain their strength and left later naming the place Moru Atanayece. Upon their return to their homes, they spread the news about the new found haven with aim of convincing their families to join them.

Since their land was afflicted by drought, they hoped that their families would join them back to Moru Anayece where they left the bulls that were formerly lost. Back there, was enough pasture for their animals, edible wild fruits and enough water for them and the animals. The place was also very serine free from human troubles. Most of the young generation agreed to migrate with them while the older ones and old animals were left behind in Jie. Those who remained were old men who were hit hard by drought and famine thus they were referred to as Nkaramojong and the place Karamojong land.

They arrived at Moru Atanayece with their animals. The families moved in threes and fours; the head of the family, one to look after the animals while grazing and a girl or two responsible for the structure’s construction and providing water for the animals from the River. They established camps for themselves in groups and later formed a tribe. The passersby used to refer to them as ngiturkan since they lived in caves.

image of aturkan

The Turkana tribe emerged from the fact that their predecessors resided inside caves: “Aturkan”. Therefore, the name Ng’iturkana meaning people of the cave. The older generation that was left behind in Jie at the mercies, survived from starvation and were referred to as the Karamojong who till today live in Uganda.



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