El-Molo, small tribe of about 560 people fear death of their language

El-Molo, small tribe of about 560 people fear death of their language

El-Molo are Kenya’s smallest ethnic group with around 560 people. Although their numbers have recovered slightly in recent years, the people who live on the Komote Island of Lake Turkana fear their language could become extinct.

El Molo old woman | Pinterest

The El Molo are believed to have originally migrated down into the Turkana Basin around 1000 BC from Ethiopia in the more northerly Horn region. Owing to the arid environment in which they entered, they are held to have then abandoned agricultural activities in favor of lakeside fishing.

Historically, the El Molo erected tomb structures in which they placed their dead. A 1962 archaeological survey in the Northern Frontier District led by S. Brodribb Pughe observed hieroglyphics on a number of these constructions. They were mainly found near springs or wells of water.

The El Molo historically spoke the El Molo language as a native language. It belongs to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family.

El Molo women in cultural wears

According to Ethnologue, among other sources, the El Molo language is nearly extinct and there may already be no remaining speakers of the idiom. Most group members have now adopted the Nilo-Saharan languages of their neighbours. The El Molo language has no known dialects. It is most similar to Daasanach.

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