Explore, Discover and Experience Turkana. #Tembea Turkana

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!

10 Major Attractions in Turkana County

Kenya is a land of plenty – plenty of landscapes, plenty of cultures and plenty of natural bounty. Turkana Land offers you a kaleidoscope of impressions. You can trace the roots of our ancestors, treat yourself, encounter unique nature and colourful culture or go for unforgettable adventures.

The following are the major attractions which have put Tukana County on the tourism map.

  1. Lake Turkana

This is the world’s largest permanent alkaline desert lake located in the north-western part of Kenya and covering an area of 6,405 square km. Its northern tip crosses into Ethiopia and is fed by three rivers – the Omo of Ethiopia, the Turkwel and the Kerio. The lake is also called the Jade Sea because of its azure-green colour from algae in bloom.

Activities

  • Sport fishing
  • Sailing
  • Island hopping

_q9a99922. Central Island National Park

The island park in Lake Turkana is 5 square kilometres. Central Island has three scenic crater lakes – Crocodile, Flamingo and Tilapia and an active crater.

How to get there

  • Road:800km from Nairobi to Lake Turkana, then take a boat from Sibiloi National Park or from Lodwar. Access from Nairobi is on the main Nairobi – Moyale road or from Maralal to Loiyengalani through Baragoi and South Horr.
  • By Air: Two airstrips at Sibiloi

kenya-lac-turkana

3. Three Crater Lakes

Crocodile Lake, Flamingo Lake and Tilapia Lake and an active volcano.

4. Loiyangalani Desert Museum

The museum on a hill overlooks Lake Turkana. Opened in 2008, it focuses on the lives of the eight communities living in the area and on the natural environment in this harsh country. The eight communities are Turkana, El-molo, Rendille, Samburu, Gabbra, Watta, Boran and Dassanash (Merillle).

5. Koobi Fora

The site with a museum lies on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana. Koobi Fora is one of the world’s leading pre-historic sites for the study of human evolution. In 1972 the area was gazetted as Sibiloi national park and is a World Heritage Site since 1977.

6. Sand Dunes

The sand dunes are best enjoyed in a four-wheel drive adventure to an oasis surrounded by palm trees. The dunes measure over 40 feet high with breathtaking sceneries.

7. Sibiloi National Park

Dubbed “The Cradle of Mankind”. It lies on the northeastern shore of Lake Turkana about 800km from Nairobi. The semi-desert ecosystem was established to protect its petrified cedar forest, wildlife and the unique prehistoric and archaeological sites linked to the origin of man.

The park is waterless except for the alkaline lake. It is nonetheless rich in wildlife such as zebra, giraffe, hippo, crocodile and numerous bird species such as flamingos, pelicans and ducks. Other attractions are the preserved wildlife fossils, which include the Giant Tortoise and the 20-foot long crocodile.

How to get there

  • By Air:There are two all-weather strips.
  • Gates:One gate
  • Roads: High-clearance 4WD is essential all year-round. Travel in convoy is recommended.

The lake is a three-day continuous drive from Nairobi via Marsabit and North Horr. The other route is Maralal via South Horr. Lt is best to take a few extra days to enjoy stops en route. Alternatively travel by road from Nairobi to Kalokol on the lake’s western shores, via Kitale and Lodwar. From Kalokol, boat hire services are available across the lake to Allia Bay.

8. Wildlife

Zebra, Grant’s gazelle, Reticulated Giraffe, Beisa oryx, topi, Greater kudu, hippo, lion, cheetah, leopard, Striped hyena and Silver-backed jackal. The world’s largest Nile crocodile population breeds on Lake Turkana’s Central Island.

9. Eliye Springs

An oasis in the desert

At Eliye Springs Resort time becomes timeless as every moment goes by unnoticed. This is an amazing destination to get lost in as you reconnect to you inner-self, surrounded with date palms that provide the much-desired shade.

10. Turkana Boy Skeleton Monument finding site in Nariokotome

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.