Turkana - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Practitioners. The Turkana believe in a single God, Akuj, who is thought to be omnipotent but who rarely intervenes in the lives of people. Contact between Akuj and the people is channeled though a diviner, or emeron. All diviners come from a particular clan and are thought to have the power to interpret dreams, predict the future, heal the sick, and make rain. There are a number of gradations in the power of diviners—from those who predict the future by throwing sandals or reading intestines, to those who can make rain. Although the Turkana believe in the power of the emeron, they are also skeptical of those from the Emeron clan who say they have mystical powers, but fail to demonstrate that power in everyday life.

Ceremonies. The ceremonial life of the Turkana is less important than that of many neighboring tribes. There are no large corporate ceremonies and no physical initiations. The asapan ceremony signifies the transition from youth to adulthood, and every man is supposed to perform this ceremony before marriage.

Arts. The Turkana produce finely crafted carved wooden implements used in daily life. Another striking aspect of Turkana culture is the beautiful and intricate singing that is heard on moonlit nights during the rainy season. Men and women sing in groups; those with particularly good voices take the lead. Songs are often about cattle or the land, but the subject can also be improvised and pertain to immediate events. Turkana now weave baskets that are sold in all the tourist shops in Nairobi.

Medicine. The Turkana have an intimate knowledge of plants and their medicinal properties, both for humans and for livestock. Animal fat is considered to have medicinal qualities, and the fat-tailed sheep is often referred to as "the hospital for the Turkana."

Death and Afterlife. Although witchcraft and sorcery are found among the Turkana, it is important to note that the Turkana do not dwell on the magical or religious aspects of life. The corpse of a woman who has raised many children and a that of a man who has been successful will be buried; others are left in the bush. Some people feel that after death a person will join Akuj, and others say that they do not know what happens after death.

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Nov 14, 2011 @ 5:17 pm
I have a few questions . what is Turkana theology? How far back can Turkana trace their belief in their God? Do they have any writing on their God from their people

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