Pokot - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. Distinctions based on gender and generation are essential to the etiquette of everyday life within homesteads and neighborhoods, the two principal social groupings. When boys are circumcised, they acquire membership in one of eight age sets, the names of which rotate cyclically through time; the opening and closing of each set is determined by elderly men. A second age-based system for men, called sapana, has two divisions. Adopted from the neighboring Karamojong in the second half of the nineteenth century, sapana may take the place of circumcision in the lowlands, but in the highlands the ceremony, if undertaken at all, follows circumcision. Women do not have age-sets.

Political Organization. Neighborhood councils (see "Settlements") were the only formal political arenas prior to colonial rule. The British imposed a system of local headmen, district courts, legislative councils, and a national assembly.

Social Control and Conflict. Disputes may be aired in neighborhood councils and in government courts. Other sanctions include shaming, cursing, and bewitching.


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