The Rendille of Kenya

Population: 60,000

Location and Background:  The Rendille live in the Kaisut Desert east of Lake Turkana, as semi-nomadic pastoralists. There are two distinctive groups: the northern Rendille, who herd camels, and the southern Rendille who herd cattle as well, and are related to the  Samburu with whom they intermarry—Ariaal Rendille live closer to main roads and have more contact with the outside world.

History:   The Rendille are Eastern Cushitic peoples who migrated from the Suez Canal and Ethiopia, moving south to escape rivalry and conflicts over grazing land and water for livestock. Their oral history claims they are of Jewish descent and their Passover-type ceremony called Sorio (“sacrifice to God”) includes the slaughtering of a sheep by the first-born son and putting the blood on their doorposts.

Culture:   The camel is their essential animal, and the development of boreholes has allowed them a less nomadic lifestyle. They live in “manyattas” or homesteads of 70-100 houses, and they dress in bright colors and wear beads. The men undergo various rites of passage to bring them into adulthood; young girls are often spoken for at an early age and marry very young. There is a place in every village called “nahapo”. This is a place of watching and prayer with a fire burning that is never to go out. Every night the men of the village meet there at 8:00pm and one man is designated to lead them in prayer.

Religion: The Rendille live between the Muslims to the north and Christians to the south. They rejected Islam since Rendille believe prayer should be made with their faces toward the  heavens, not on the ground. They practice a traditional, animistic religion which includes prayer to the moon (which is considered a god), animal sacrifices and worship of ancestral spirits. They also have traditional religious practices that resemble those of Judaism. The name of their god is Wakh. The moon plays an important part in their religion. On the night of the new moon the first-born son of each family blows a horn with an accompanying prayer ritual.

Learn more about the Rendille at Joshua Project or about Kenya at Operation World.

Latest Prayer Updates:

You prayed…He answered

On Jun 10, 2018 you prayed for this request: “Please pray for a principal for the school. Our acting principal David has done a wonderful job. Please pray God would call a man like David to replace him.” And God answered: “A Christian young man has come to be our principal. He has shown a heart for missions and a serious love for God and desire to have a solid Christian environment for the students. This is truly an answer to prayer.”

You prayed…He answered

On Jan 16, 2018 you prayed for this request: “We are sending off another new Rendille high school graduate to university and it feels a bit like sending sheep to the wolves. Pray for Somo. Pray for Dibo and Andrew, two other graduates who continue with university studies – both are staying close to God and need His protection.” And God answered: “Our university students we mentioned earlier are doing well – so far, they are staying with God and resisting the many temptations to stray. One student was asked by a professor to lie for him at a hearing. When this student hesitated, the professor threatened to lower his marks. Anyway, the student stood firm, the professor was fired, but he’s awaiting the grades and may receive an undeserved D for not doing as the professor asked. Pray for Dibo – he’s earning a reputation for being honest – may God continue to help him be a light and a testimony. How grateful we are for people who pray!”

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