Pokot - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. There are some thirty-six named, exogamous patrilineal clans. Many of these clans are found among other Kalenjin groups; a few originated among the Turkana. Clan histories recount the movements of people from one locale to another, emphasizing the vulnerability of humans and their dependence upon supernatural benefactors to help them overcome hunger, thirst, and, ultimately, death itself; the attributes of these benefactors are praised in poetry and song. Clans are conceptualized as "pathways" and fellow clan members as children of the same "father" or "grandfather." Although members of the same clan are dispersed geographically and are differentiated internally, they are said to hold their herds in common. Unlike some East African cattle-keeping groups, the Pokot retain their clan affiliations throughout their lives; there is no ceremony to sever clanship in the event of marriage. Genealogical reckoning tends to be shallow, reaching back three to four generations (see "Marriage").

Kinship Terminology. Relatives are differentiated according to the logic of clanship, generation, and gender. Relatives are categorized as "father's people" ( kapapo ), "mother's people" ( kamama ), and "spouse's people" ( kapikoi ). Father's people are fellow clan members and hence the source of fathers, brothers, sisters, and "aunts" (father's sisters). Mother's people are differentiated according to their relationship to "uncle" (mother's brother). Terms for spouse's people often are derived from the names of the livestock that have been exchanged to establish affinal ties. In addition, people who share the same name, marry into the same family, establish stock partnerships, or are cut by the same circumcision knife also are considered relatives.


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