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Meet Lokorikeju Titus Ekiru, young Turkana teacher who penned a biography of his people (The Ateker)

In Turkana County,north-western part of Kenya, one school teacher has taken it upon himself to buck the trend. Over the last 10 or so years, Titus Lokorikeju Ekiru has researched, documented and now published a book on his community and their culture.

The author, Lokorikeju T. Ekiru, is a celebrated teacher of Art, particularly so in the area of adaptation and arrangement of African folk tunes.

Born in Loima Constituency, Turkana County, he started schooling in mid-1980’s in his home county, before joining Kericho Teachers’ Training College (KTTC) for his tertiary education.

After teaching for over ten years, Lokorikeju joined Turkana County Government as a Sub County Administrator. He has been researching on Turkana migration history, material culture,brands and artefacts for over a decade.

The author in traditional garb. (Photo: T. Ekiru)

Titled The Turkana People (2021), the book delves into the origins, migrations, legends and culture of the Turkana people who are found in Northern Kenya as well as a few neighbouring countries.

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The book also presents detailed account of Nayece, the community’s heroine, who is largely unknown outside of the larger Ateker community. Also explained in great detail and accompanied by relevant illustrations are the thirty-something different ‘brands’ (or ‘clans’) that make up the over one-million-strong Turkana community.

Of equal importance is the explanation and historical background of the Turkana moieties, or alternations, namely the ‘Leopards’ (Ng’irisae) and ‘Mountains’ (Ng’imoru).

Despite being packed with research information and numerous photographs, the 358-page book is not short of entertainment value. Superstitious beliefs surrounding adultery and the breaking of taboos are downright hilarious.

In the Introduction, the author has this to say about his work:

‘It is my expectation that descriptions of Turkana customs, norms and rituals contained in this book will further help readers understand and appreciate the Turkana way of life. I appreciate the efforts of earlier writers on aspects of Turkana culture while noting some gaps and areas that required further information. In view of the above, I took it upon myself to further document about Turkana with intent to narrow information gaps. To achieve this, I undertook both primary and secondary information mining, data collection and collation for a period spanning over seven years. In particular, I traversed parts of Iteso and Turkana-lands in Kenya, as well as other Ateker (Turkana relatives) communities in Uganda and Southern Sudan.’

During the launching of his book in Lodwar, capital of Turkana County, Governor Josphat Nanok hailed Lokorikeju for his well researched work:

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‘Was pleased to grace the launch of @LokorikejuEkiru’s new book, The Turkana People, an exhaustive account of the history, rich culture and complete way of life of the Turkana people. I commend the author…for this well researched work…I hope this book will inspire more authors to carry out further research to give accurate accounts of the Turkana people to the rest of the world.’

The Turkana People
is available at the Lodwar Bookshop, within St. Augustine’s Cathedral, Turkana County. (Or contact them for details).

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Price: Kshs 3,500 (USD$ 35.00)

Below are some images from the book launch, courtesy of Governor Nanok’s administration:

Compiled by Alexander Nderitu, (Pan-African writer and entertainer, Alexander Nderitu, author of ‘When the Whirlwind Passes’ and ‘Kiss, Commander, Promise’. Contains articles, book excerpts, news, opinions, poems, quotable quotes, song lyrics, short stories and more.)

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