The Rendille of Kenya
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.
Latest Prayer Updates:
A month ago, several Rendille youth were attacked and killed. A roommate of one of those killed has moved here with his twin sister. He’s struggling to work through the trauma and grief of losing his friend. The twins came to our home last night, we laughed, talked, prayed and got to know each other. We told them our home is always open to them, shared how God has used grief and trauma in our lives and reminded them there is HOPE. We also told them we are not counselors, but God has recently brought a Christian Rendille counselor out of Nairobi and to Korr because of Corona and we offered to take them to meet her. They agreed and tonight all of us will meet over chai, and discuss next steps. Please pray God uses the horrendous attacks that have happened in the North for His glory. That these twins would feel hope, breathe hope, and motivate them to share this Hope with others. Pray for healing.
A Rendille graduate of the Northern Bible Training Center is waiting for his new ministry assignment. While he is waiting, he got permission from the chiefs to hold Sunday services for a small number of people, and has trained them to go to their villages and share the message he gave in the church. On Sundays, the youth in the surrounding villages share what they’ve heard, and on Mondays, the mothers meet to share what they heard.This new pastor also gained permission to hold sport events within the village. If anyone comes to play from outside the village, the game has to end, but as long as it stays within the village they can play. The new pastor is using this to share the Gospel with young men before they play. Praise God for working through the COVID19 restrictions!