chapter  IV
12 Pages

Kenya: From Soil to Sand, and Back

WithLloyd Timberlake

Digir Turoga’s bearing is more striking than his costume. Indeed he strides forward across the plains of northern Kenya with chest out and shoulders back, hatless, revealing the narrow face, thin nose and high cheekbones typical of the dryland nomads who inhabit East Africa. In 1884, an outbreak of smallpox killed virtually an entire clan, and the whole age-set was named after the only surviving moran, or unmarried warrior. In 1972, Digir met the Italian missionary Father Redento and joined him in the small settlement that was later to become the town of Korr. Africa is home to some 15 to 24 million pastoralists, most of whom live in the semi-arid and arid regions which make up three-quarters of the continent’s land area and are where most of its meat is produced. Nations such as Sudan, Somalia, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali and Mauritania each have 1 million or more herders.