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A group of Pokot women walk to a meeting

The Pokot people (commonly spelled Pökoot, and called Suk in older literature) live in the West Pokot and Baringo Districts of Kenya and in eastern Karamoja in Uganda. They speak Pökoot, language of the Southern Nilotic language family. A 1994 figure of SIL puts the total number of Pokot speakers at 264 000, while the only little more recent Schladt (1997:40) gives the more conservative estimate of 150 000 people, presumably based on the figures found in Rottland (1982:26) who puts the number at slightly more than 115 000.

Based on areal and cultural differences, the Pokot people can be divided into two groups (Rottland 1982): the Hill Pökoot and the Plains Pokot . The Hill Pokot live in the rainy highlands in the west and in the central south of the Pokot area and are both farmers and pastoralists. The Plains Pokot live in the dry and infertile plains, herding cows, goats and sheep.

Many Pokot people from the present eastern part of the Pokot area claim that they come from the hilly areas of northern Cherengani (Bollig 1990). Halfway through the nineteenth century, they seem to have expanded their territory rapidly into the lowlands of the Kenyan Rift Valley, mainly at the expense of the Laikipia Maasai people.

War with neighbouring tribe Pokot

The Marakwet and Pokot ethnic groups organize cattle raids against each other, since time immemorial. The war started as a result of Livestock theft, and has since then gone through war and peace.


  • Baroja, Tomás Herreros 1998. Pökot-English, English-Pökot Dictionary, ed. Kacheliba.
  • Bianco, Barbara 1992. The Historical Anthropology of a Mission Hospital in Northwestern Kenya. A Ph.D. dissertation New York University.
  • Bollig, Michael 1990. 'An outline of pre-colonial Pokot history', Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere, 23, pp. 73–91.
  • Bolling, Michael 1996. Bridewealth and Stockfriendship, the Accumulation of Security through Reciprocal Exchange." In Angewandte Sozialforschung, 1996-1997, Vol. 20: (1-2) 57-72.
  • Cox, P. S. V. 1972. The Disease Pattern of the Karapokot and its Relationship to Their Environment and Culture. A dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Medicine. University of London.
  • Dietz, T. 1987. Pastoralists in Dire Straits; Survival Strategies and External Strategies, Inteventions in a Semi-Arid Region at the Kenya/Uganda Border: Western Pokot, 1900-1986. A Ph.D. dissertation University of Amsterdam.
  • Kjartan Jonsson 2006. Pokot Masculinity, The Role of Rituals in Forming Men. A Ph.D. dissertation, Reykjavik: University of Iceland, Faculty of Social Sciences.
  • Meyerhoff, Elisabeth L. 1981. The Socio-Economic and Ritual Roles of Pokot women. A Ph.D. dissertation, Lucy Cavendish Collage, Cambridge.
  • Reckers, Ute 1992). Nomadische Viehalter in Kenya : die Ost-Pokot aus human-ökologischer Sicht (Arbeiten aus dem Institut für Afrika-Kunde vol. 83). Hamburg: Institut für Afrika-Kunde im Verbund der Stiftung Deutsches Übersee-Institut. ISBN 3-928049-12-7
  • Reynolds, John Eric 1982. Community Development, Ethnicity and Stratification in a Rural Destination: Mnagei, Kenya. A Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington.
  • Rottland, Franz 1982. Die Südnilotischen Sprachen: Beschreibung, Vergelichung und Rekonstruktion (Kölner Beiträge zur Afrikanistik vol. 7). Berlin: Dietrich Reimer. (esp. pp. 26, 138-139)
  • Schladt, Matthias 1997. Kognitive Strukturen von Körperteilvokabularien in Kenianischen Sprachen (Afrikanistische Monographien vol. 8). Köln: Institut für Afrikanistik / Universität zu Köln. (esp. pp. 40–42)
  • Schneider, Harold K. 1953. The Pakot (Suk) of Kenya, with Special Reference to the Role of Livestock in Their Subsistence Economy. PhD Dissertation, Northwestern University.
  • Tully, Dorene R. 1985. Human Ecology and Political Process: The Context of Market Incorporation in West-Pokot District, Kenya. A Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington.
  • Visser, J.J. 1989. Pökoot Religion. Oegstgeest: Hendrik Kraemer Institut.

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