Explore, Discover and Experience Turkana. #Tembea Turkana

PARTNERING WITH SWEDISH SCHOOLS OF ART TO PRESERVE TURKANA CULTURE

Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro said Turkana County Government is in the forefront in the promotion and preservation of culture when the Swedish School of Arts delegation paid him a courtesy call at the County Headquarters.

“We want our young people to understand where they came from and to know their culture or they will be lost,” he said.

He further added that those who discard their culture become slaves to other cultures. Thus, he welcomed the delegation to explore and learn about the Turkana culture as they look for areas of collaboration on this important aspect of socio-economic development.

“We will be looking on areas like capacity building, technical support and marketing,” said CEC of Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources – Charles Lokioto, “as well as resource mobilisation opportunities.”

The Swedish institution is working to partnership with county on cultural promotion and preservation of both the host community and refugees in Kakuma and Kalobeyei.

The Chief Officer of Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources – Rosemary Nchinyei, said there was need to have fully fledged cultural facilities where the youth can rehearse, record and train on matters to do with culture and arts. She said the county through such partnership is looking at institutionalizing the Ekalees Centre to become self sustaining and that which brings all art and culture activities under one roof for both showcasing and preservation.

The Swedish Delegation, accompanied by the Chief Officer, also had sessions with the youth in Kakuma refugee camp engaged in arts and culture. The youth shared their experiences, challenges and opportunities.

“We would like to support the county government in the development of culture through preservation and encouraging the youth explore new ways of cultural development,” said Måns Fellesson.

He led the two representatives from the schools; Camila Freedman and Åsa Lundmark.

On citing the annual Tobong’u Lore cultural festival, the County Secretary –  Peter Eripete said the county government used culture to promote peace and regional development with neighbouring countries – as they share similar traditions and customs.

The deputy governor echoed the same and added that the event had minimised resource-base conflicts.

The Department of Culture organised cultural performances to showcase the rich Turkana cultural heritage.

Also present were Hon. Daniel Emekwi – Chair of the County Assembly Committee of Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources and MCA Katilia Ward, Hon. Alice Nakawa – Nominated MCA and Vice-chair of the above committee, Hon. Bethwel Kobongin – Leader of Majority and MCA Songot, Hon. Joseph Epuu – MCA Letea.

ROAD SAFETY CAMPAIGN KEY IN CREATING AWARENESS ON SAFETY OF ROAD USERS- DOCTOR AMEYO

The upcoming Road Safety Campaign by Turkana County Government Department of Transport will play a big role in sensitizing county road users to observe road safety as a way to minimize accidents in the county. Deputy Director at Lodwar County Referral Hospital (LCRH) Dr. Bonventure Ameyo has said.

The County Department of Transport has organized for a four days Road Safety Campaign scheduled for February 4th, 5th ,6th and 7th in Lodwar, Kakuma, Lokichogio, and Lokichar respectively. This campaign is themed, ‘Road safety, my responsibility’ and is aimed at sensitizing all road users to ensure safety of others since road safety begins with self.

Devolution government in Kenya has given birth to much development in the roads sector in the county. There has been much improvement on the county major highway by the National Government through Kenya Highways Authority (KenHA). The county government has opened and improved several county roads. The county roads have been graded and graveled, while drifts have been constructed at different sections where seasonal rivers transverse the roads. In Turkana East, a bridge was constructed to connect people of Kapelbok and Nawoyeregae. All these developments have given rise to an increase of movement on the roads and thus great risks to accidents.

The planned road safety campaign will therefore play a big role in sensitizing the road users to observe safety while on the roads to prevent accidents from occurring.

SPORTS UNIFYING FACTOR IN NORTH RIFT- DG LOTETHIRO

Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro has said that communities living in the Northrift region stand to cement peaceful coexistence through sport activities.

Speaking today at Ekales centre when he officially flagged off the Northrift regional Cross-Country Championship race, DG Lotethiro said that regular sporting events would reduce banditry and conflicts that have in the past been bedridden the area economically.

DG Lotethiro assured participants of County government commitment to nurture talents through construction of a modern stadium and athletic villages that would be used for training camps ,and hosting of different games.

Deputy Governor challenged senior and international athletics to guide the upcoming ones and asked the sports department to organize similar events at the sub-counties ,so that hidden talents at the rural areas can be identified, and supported to national and international level.

Turkana East Member of Parliament Ali Lokiru echoed deputy governor’s sentiments noting of the need by Mp’s to emulate the County and organize such events at the constituencies to support talents .

On his part,County executive for education and sports Patrick Lokaimoe said that sports was an economic aspect of life that can become as a source of employment to those participating in it. He thanked the Athletics body for allowing Turkana host the cross-country that he said was a start of many great events they plan to organize in future.

County government officials present included Chief officers Jacob Lolelea(Sports) and Gladys Arika(Public service);host of directors, among other officers from different departments.

Elgeyo Marakwet County dominated the event winning both the 10km senior women and 8km junior men races. Elgeyo Marakwet County swept away the 8km junior men race taking the first seven positions .

Athletic Kenya Northrift branch officials led by its chairperson Mr.Wilson Musto are overseeing the one day event.

ROAD SAFETY CAMPAIGN KEY IN CREATING AWARENESS ON SAFETY OF ROAD USERS- DOCTOR AMEYO

The upcoming Road Safety Campaign by Turkana County Government Department of Transport will play a big role in sensitizing county road users to observe road safety as a way to minimize accidents in the county. Deputy Director at Lodwar County Referral Hospital (LCRH) Dr. Bonventure Ameyo has said.

The County Department of Transport has organized for a four days Road Safety Campaign scheduled for February 4th, 5th ,6th and 7th in Lodwar, Kakuma, Lokichogio, and Lokichar respectively. This campaign is themed, ‘Road safety, my responsibility’ and is aimed at sensitizing all road users to ensure the safety of others since road safety begins with self.

Devolution government in Kenya has given birth to much development in the roads sector in the county. There has been much improvement on the county major highway by the National Government through Kenya Highways Authority (KenHA). The county government has opened and improved several county roads. The county roads have been graded and graveled, while drifts have been constructed at different sections where seasonal rivers transverse the roads. In Turkana East, a bridge was constructed to connect people of Kapelbok and Nawoyeregae. All these developments have given rise to an increase of movement on the roads and thus great risks to accidents.

The planned road safety campaign will therefore play a big role in sensitizing the road users to observe safety while on the roads to prevent accidents from occurring.

USHANGA INITIATIVE SENSITISATION EXERCISE KICKS OFF

The Ushanga Initiative sensitisation exercise that aims to educate women in the county on the need to embrace bead making as an economic activity has kicked off today at Aposta,Songot ward in Turkana West Sub-County.

The initiative is meant to assist women attain economic empowerment through making of varied traditional and modern beaded products that can be sold to earn an income, hence fight poverty and improve their livelihoods.

So far, the Department of Culture, under the County Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources, has trained 20 Trainers of Trainers (ToTs) and sensitised 230 women in Turkana North, Central, South and East Sub-counties. The Aposta group of 50 women, brings the number to 270.

“Turkana County Government wants to help women in the county understand the economic value of beads and train them. The training will enable the women to develop modern and new designs of beaded products,” said Charles Lokioto, the County Executive Committee member of the ministry.

He said that Ushanga empowerment program is on skill development that targets not only the women, but the youth as well.
CECM Lokiyoto called on the women to form and join Cooperative societies to ease access funds and markets.

He assured them of County government plans to establish Curio shops to avail ready markets for the beaded products.

On his part, the Deputy Director of Culture Phillip Lokaala challenged the women to take advantage of Tobong’u Lore – the annual Turkana tourism Cultural Festival – to learn more about the market preferences on beaded products. He added that festival also offers an opportunity for the women group to showcase their products for sale.

Lokaala also encouraged the women, representing nine villages from the area, to form groups which would later become cooperatives.

The department is advocating for use of modern beading machines that will improve their efficiency, design development and finishing of their products.

During these sensitisation exercises, Lemmy Ejorewoia – Chief Administrator of the department – demonstrated the use of various beading machines and equipment and how they can be used.

The department will in future carry out similar exercises at Namoruputh (Loima Sub-County), Kalemng’orok and Lochor Eemoit in Turkana South Sub-county.

GOVERNOR NANOK LAUNCHES CHILD PROTECTION STRATEGY

Turkana is the first county to launch a child protection strategy after Governor Josphat Nanok today launched a four year blueprint developed by a joint taskforce to ensure children receive care and access basic rights.

Addressing child protection stakeholders during the launch today at the Cradle Hotel, the Governor said the strategy was a key milestone in efforts to address child protection concerns.

“In 2014, I requested UNICEF and partners to develop a strategy to assist our county address child protection needs and I am glad that the we are launching the document today, which will support protection of children from bad abuse including gender, sexual and drug abuse, child labour and child marriages,” he said.

He assured that the County Government will lead the implementation of the strategy by providing technical and financial support which will include developing a bill and policy on child protection.

The Governor insisted that more effort was needed from government and partners to improve children access to education.

“Very critical in the area of education is how we protect the child right to education. In Turkana over 300,000 children are out of school mostly because of budgetary issues, lack of adequate teachers, poor infrastructure and inadequate facilities. There is need for innovative ideas to increase number of teachers especially in the rural areas and for us to double efforts to support parents take children to school considering the change in attitude on education compared to before,” he said.

Governor Nanok expressed hope that the strategy will help address the street children menace which he said was caused by among others irresponsible parents, teenage pregnancies. He said there was need for sensitization campaigns for parents to play a bigger role in the upbringing of their children rather than abandon the responsibility to other relatives or politicians.

He urged civil societies to take up the role in management of children rescue centres to support the County Government investment to set up the centres for the rehabilitation of children.

On her part, UNICEF’s Chief of Child Protection Monika Sandvik-Nylund hailed the strategy which she said will provide vision and direction to be taken when focusing resources on child protection.

County Executive for Education,Sports and Social Protection said the Ministry will work together with the National Government’s Child Protection Department to ensure objectives of the strategy are realised.

Others who spoke include County Public Service Board Chair Dr. John Ng’asike, Chief Officer for Education, Sports and Social Protection Dr. Lolelea Natade as well as members of the taskforce which developed the strategy under the Turkana Gender and Child Protection Network (TGCPN).

Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro later chaired panel discussion on the provisions of the strategy.

CREATIVES’ WORKSHOP TO INSPIRE TURKANA CULTURE DOCUMENTATION

The first ever creative writers’ workshop, sponsored by the Turkana County Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources, was organised today to equip the participants with the writing knowledge and skills to document the different aspects of Turkana culture.

The two-day workshop’s objective is to fulfil the Department of Culture’s mandate to promote, preserve and develop Turkana indigenous knowledge. However, there is much to be documented thus the selected participants interested in writing and publishing in this subject were brought together.

In his opening remarks, Charles Lokioto – the County Executive Member for Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources, said that the workshop was a start to spur the county writers, storytellers, poets and narrators to create creative or historical works that go to preserving and conserving the Turkana culture.

“We wanted to open your mind with this workshop and to start the process of getting ideas on this important issue of documenting our culture,” he said.

He added that, like Tobong’u Lore, the county creatives too needed to seize the opportunity to educate the new generation about their Turkana cultural heritage.
“We realised that there is gap in the documentation about Turkana. Our intention with the workshop is to engage these facilitators to inspire this team [participants] to bring what they have documented so far and to go produce,” said Philip Lokaala, the Deputy Director for Culture.

The 30 participants, under Professor Michael Lokuruka and author and publisher Alex Nderitu, were taken through a program that focused on sharing their writing experiences and techniques.

professor, Lokuruka whose 2016 article ‘Ramifications of the Turkana patrols of 1917-1918’ has been quoted over 40 times, advised the participants to take advantage of the low hanging fruit that is recording of the oral literature. While Nderitu cautioned the participants not to allow other people to tell their story instead they should take charge and do it themselves.

“We have realised that little has been documented on songs, wildlife, icon sites and the Turkana culture in general. Hence, we thought the best way to address this gap was to bring the creatives on board for culture documentation,” said Titus Ekiru, Deputy Director- Heritage.

In closing the workshop, Pauline Lokuruka – Chief Officer of Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources revealed that the ministry had already begun the formal documentation of Moru Anayece – one of the legends of the Ateker clans.

“The Turkana history was written a long time ago, let’s question those books and rewrite. We need to stand out and tell our stories,” she said, “I challenge you [participants] to start small and write children books of our stories and to teach them the Turkana cultural heritage.”

At the end of the workshop, the participants will have learnt academic and creative writing, translation and research techniques, writing tools and publishing options/opportunities.

NEW TURKANA COUNCIL OF ELDERS OFFICIALS ELECTED

The Turkana Council of Elders has new elected officials after their first official elections was conducted over the weekend to replace the interim officials who had served for four years since its formation in 2015.

The election was conducted at Ekaales Cultural Centre in the presence of Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources County Executive Committee member (CEC) Charles Lokioto, Chief Officer (CO) Pauline Lokuruka and Department of Culture staff.

The 146 members, representing all the sub-counties, agreed to elect the officials through secret ballot with the County Social Development Officer, James Kiptoo, presiding over the elections. They elected Charles Lorogoi Ejore, unopposed, as the new chair.  They also elected Abraham Lokueom (vice chair), Emmamuel Lotiir Maraka (secretary), John Kaatho Echwa (vice secretary), Margret Achom (treasurer) and Nichodemus Ekai (vice treasurer).

“We appreciate the outgoing team as well as the incoming team. The future is here because this election shows that the Council of Elders has been born,” said CEC Lokioto. “However, the by-laws of the council need to be reviewed to suit your needs.”

The CEC appreciated the members for electing Achom – the only woman – as the treasurer, however they need to do more on gender representation as stipulated in the constitution.

The incoming chair, Ejore, said that the formation of the council would help in streamlining the Turkana cultural policies. He challenged the council to fast track to identify emerging issues in the communities and find possible solutions.

“Culture is the heart beat of our county and it should be guided on how it can be enhanced especially the Turkana language,” said CO Lokuruka.

The outgoing chair Philip Lobelu appreciated the ministry for conducting a transparent election and its support during his tenure.

The new officials are expected to serve for three years.

MISS ATEKER: A BEAUTY PAGEANT THAT STANDS FOR PEACE AND CULTURE

MISS ATEKER: A BEAUTY PAGEANT THAT STANDS FOR PEACE AND CULTURE

It was a moment to hold hands and wait silently for the winner to be announced, however this crowd was shouting “number seven” repeatedly; louder than the judge using the microphone. The crowd (and judges too) is a unique one drawn from three countries and sharing one ancestry and united by a common dialect.

Calling themselves Ateker, this crowd represented the Turkana (Kenya), Toposa (South Sudan) and Karamoja and Teso (Uganda) communities. They had come together to witness the crowing of the first ever beauty queen that will be promoting peaceful coexistence and their culture across the region at the Mount Moroto Hotel, Uganda.

“We are only separated by flags. We speak the same language,” said Jennifer Nawoi – County Executive Committee member (CEC) of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources in her speech during the event. “It [Miss Ateker] started as a small idea, but now it has grown big enough to cross international borders.”

The Ateker Beauty Pageantry was initiated by young people from Kenya (Turkana) and Uganda (Karamoja) regions who saw it necessary to bring together the Ateker community for development and peaceful coexistence. It would use beauty and art to address harmful traditional practices and attitudes that hinder the progress and development of the community.

“We, the youth, wanted to play a role in fostering peace efforts that our leaders have been engaging in. Our leaders in peace meetings target the youth with their messages. No old person goes to raid. It is upon us the youth to come up with more initiatives to bring peace to our homes and communities,” said Bernard Lennon, the chair of the Miss Ateker-Turkana Chapter.

In its efforts to celebrate being part of the Ateker Community, County Government of Turkana organises an annual cultural festival; Tobong’u Lore (come back home). It then invites the other communities including Nyangatom from Ethiopia.

Currently the region has had relative peace, thanks to two peace agreements signed by the regional government leaders; Lokirima Peace Accord between the Turkana and Karamoja (Uganda) and Nadapal Peace Declaration between the Turkana and Toposa (South Sudan).

“Miss Ateker is the unifying factor of the Ateker community. The Toposa, Turkana, Nyangatom [of Ethiopia], Iteso, Karamoja and Lango must unite as one community,” said Jennifer Nabongurika, Minister of Gender, Kapoeta State of South Sudan Government.

As one of the guests of honour of the event, Ms Nabongurika added that in her state they did not discriminate against other Ateker community members. “When it comes to job opportunities let’s treat the Ateker as the same for peace. Kapoeta has jobs for our young people.”

Choosing the queen

Ten beauty queens from Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan had been in four-day boot camp training for the Grand Finale. Poised and confident, they presented their creative attire that was inspired by the Ateker culture. They showcased the similarity – the loruanta (Maasai blanket) won by all, and differences in each community’s traditional attire like the heavy use of beads by the Toposa. All the while answering the judges’ questions.

In the end the crowd favourite and contestant number seven, Gladys Namoi, a Toposa from Kapoeta State in South Sudan, was crowned as the first Miss Ateker 2018/2019. Turkana County’s Zipporah Alimlim was the first runners-up and Longokwo Louise of South Sudan as well was the second runners-up. The Miss Ateker Chapters represented were Turkana, Karamoja, Iteso and Toposa.

“We were not only judging on beauty alone,” said Washington Malala, one of the judges. “We are looking at how confidence, ability to express themselves, power and control and communication skills.”

The 18-year old beauty queen has been given the responsibility to promote peace coexistence and create awareness against gender-based violence among the Ateker cluster.

Next year, Kapoeta State

With the crown in South Sudan, they are expected to host the next year’s pageant. However, it will depend on the commitment from the three regional governments to make the pageantry

“I am happy the girls have started and therefore let’s all rally behind them. My request to the three governments, kindly take over this initiative and ran it. It’s been difficult for us because of lack of funds and thanks to everyone who supported. I thank Governor Nanok for his good will.” said Bernard.

Sharing the same sentiment, CEC Nawoi requested that they should all promote the event; “take the idea forward.”

As the host guest of honour, Andrew Napaja – Local Council 5 of Moroto District, Uganda, recounted the beginning of Miss Ateker from Lokiriama Peace Accord, then Tobong’u Lore to the pageant; which he described as the climax.

 

Back to Humanity’s Birthplace – #TembeaTurkana

Kenya is endowed with the richest pre-historic fossil heritage dating over 100 Million years ago, back into the dinosaur age. The Lake Turkana eco-system is amongst Kenya’s six World Heritage Sites. The lake is the world’s largest desert as well as alkaline lake containing the largest Nile crocodile population.

Home of the Turkana Boy

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The pillar marking the Turkana Boy’s finding site.

In 1984, the world-famous Turkana boy was found in Nariokotome, a 1.5-million-year-old, near complete Homo erectus skeleton. Homo erectus is generally regarded as a direct ancestor of Homo Sapiens Sapiens – present day humans. Since recently, a monument and a brass replica of the skeleton can be visited at the finding site. The oldest ever traced stone tools with an estimated age of 3.5 million years, is just another one of the many significant discoveries in Turkana which made it to the international headlines.

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Real Skeleton of the Turkana Boy at The National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi.

Researchers’ paradise

The first to recognize Turkana Land ‘s historic importance was the world-famous paleoanthropologist, Dr. Richard Leakey who established the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI), a research centre and field school that puts Turkana Land on the map in terms of archaeology and natural sciences. Tourists can pay day visits to the TBI’s facilities, and do a guided walk to a nearby finding site where they are explained the essentials of detecting fossils – a thrilling insight into archaeology.

For those who are fascinated by the fundamental questions of who we are and where we come from, there is no better place to follow the traces of our ancestors. Some of the most significant archaeological findings of pre- and early manhood have been made here, and Turkana Land righteously claims the title Origin of Mankind. This is the place where all humans stem from – so: Welcome back home!

WELCOME BACK HOME!