ORMA - Personal Visit
ORMA OF KENYA
Our guide led the Swahili interpreter and me to an Orma village near a trading center. The Orma people group numbers 75,000. Their homeland stretches from Malindi, north to the Tana River delta and west along the river to Girissa, then south along this border for about 50 kilometers.
The Orma are semi-nomadic shepherds and their white, long-horned zebu cattle are among the finest in Africa.
About 40 men, women and children gathered to welcome us. Introductions were made and I explained the purpose of my visit: to meet the people whom I had read about in various books. I thanked them for their gracious reception and shared briefly about my wife and family.
Elders openly shared their concern with us. The current 3-year drought had taken its toll on their cattle herds, dying from the lack of good pasture. It was forcing them to sell their herds at a cheap price in order to get something back on their investment. Every Friday, trucks came from all over Kenya to the local cattle market, taking advantage of the bargain prices.
It will be very difficult for the Orma to rebuild their cattle herds. Cattle no longer offer security for the future. However in education, they see promise for a secure future. Even during drought, teachers continue their employment and a wide range of opportunities opens to the educated. Then, they made their request for help in addressing this need.
I made no promises to the Orma, but did assure them that there need would be made known to the Christian community. This is the first time I have every found a village, perhaps a people group, ready to move as a group to accept the Christian faith.
They were pleased that I wanted to take pictures and it was evident the elders wanted to nurture this new, emerging relationship. We returned to the trading center and spent the night there. The next morning, walking toward a restaurant to eat breakfast, we met one of the village elders to whom we were introduced the day before. He greeted us and we visited for a brief time. This man is a link to the village and the people's hope for the dawning of a new day over the Orma homeland.
Where Pupils Dodge Buffaloes And Crocodiles to Get to Class
Galgalo Bocha - 29 June 2011
Nairobi — Poverty, crime and calamities such as floods might sound scary to many Kenyans upon whom life has smiled favourably -- but as a young boy from Marafa village, Chara, such experiences were the cocktail on which I was weaned.
If it is not the harsh climate ushering in acute hunger claiming scores of lives, then the rains and floods that routinely follow displaced thousands and claimed their fair share of lives.
The picture would be incomplete without the sporadic clashes between the pastoralists and farmers, who turn on each over farming and grazing rights. I vividly recall the Shifta (bandits) menace that started many years before I was born in 1982 and continued unabated for many years.
The Somali bandits would attack hapless villagers, leaving a trail of devastation and destruction. Inevitably, government forces would materialise long after the bandits had left and turn their wrath on the same poor villagers still nursing injuries and losses arising from the Shifta incursions.
Village elders, among them my grandfather, would be paraded and ordered to surrender non-existent firearms while being accused of harbouring the Shiftas. But like the flow of the brown, muddy waters of the mighty Tana River which was only a few kilometers from my village, life had to continue.
Going to school in Tana River was a worthwhile experience driven more by the children's deep desire to get an education than the government's wish to provide it. Many schools in the county are made of mud walls and grass thatches. I was enrolled at Nduru primary school in 1990. For the next eight years, I walked 15 kilometres to and from school.
Bringing education and health services closer to the people and improving the road network are some of the key challenges the new county leadership must overcome.
Due to the nature of his work that saw him transferred so often, my father, a policeman, had taken my elder brother to a boarding school at Tarasaa trading centre, 150 kilometers away, leaving me under my grandfather's care.
Each day, I would wake at 4am, take a cup of tea prepared by my grandmother and in the company of my grandfather, brave the morning chill on my way to school. His company was a comfort; a bulwark against the lingering danger posed by buffaloes that roamed the area.
During the rainy season, the walk to school was a herculean task as we had to wade through flooded sections of the path where crocodiles lay in wait.
Although my grandfather showed a keen interest in his grandsons' education, it was not so with our sisters and aunts. Thanks to the community's rather retrogressive viewpoint on the role of women, the girls were left at home to prepare for their future roles as mothers and homemakers.
As an Orma boy, herding cattle was part of my calling and this I did enthusiastically after school hours and during weekends. Under my grandfather's tutelage, I learnt such indispensable skills as knowing the animals by their skin colours to identify them in a large herd out in the pastures. I also got valuable insight on how to assist a delivering cow.
I completed my primary education in 1997, the same year that the El-Nino weather phenomenon came calling, leaving in its wake devastation on the local road network. Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination invigilators could not reach our school due to the impassable roads so we had to walk some 25 kilometres to Golbante primary school to take the exam.
The poor state of roads returned to haunt me after I got admission into Hola Secondary school. Already two weeks late and with the fear of losing my chance bearing heavily on us, we embarked on the long walk to Hola, a distance of nearly 150 kilometres.
We arrived in Hola two and a half days later tired to the bone after the journey during which we endured heavy rains, floods and the constant hazard of wild animals. The harsh climate of small and dusty Hola Town later forced us to move to Kipini secondary school, closer to home, where we completed our education.
One thing that remains clear in my mind is that my birth and upbringing in Tana River County was not a condemnation but admission to a school with valuable experiences on how to face and surmount the challenges that life brings our way.
The Orma are semi-nomadic people, some well known from their tall, slender physiques and handsome features, who live in the southeastern parts of Kenya in Tana River and Lamu districts. They keep cattle and move to the higher grounds during the rainy season when the Tana River floods. They move with their herds inland.
The Orma are remnants of the once powerful "Galla nation" of Ethiopia and northern Kenya. In the late nineteenth century, wars with neighboring tribes forced the Orma to migrate south. Some moved to the rich delta area of the lower Tana River, and others settled west of the river.
The Orma also go by the name "Galla," which is widely used in Ethiopia. They do not call themselves this, however, since it is considered to be derogatory.
Raising cattle is their basic means of survival. Their distinct breed of the white, long-horned zebu cattle are among the finest in Africa. The cows are commonly known as Borana cows (with a hump). Zebu are used as a "bride price" and are slaughtered at weddings and funerals.
Where are they located?
Some key Orma cities are Hola (the capital of Tana River District), Garsen, Tarasaa and Witu.
What are their lives like?
Though the Orma basically survive by raising cattle, they also raise goats and sheep. Men who own more than 1,000 head of cattle are granted special recognition in their communities.
They also eat maize, rice, beans, and drink chai. The arid Tana region is not very favorable for growing produce; therefore, they have few vegetables in their diet. Any produce they obtain must be bought from another tribe. This is not an easy task since the shortage of watering holes often leads to bloody clashes between tribes.
The Orma live in round, wood-framed huts built by the women. The huts are - thatched with grass and in some cases with woven mats. In some cases when the family migrates with the herds due to drought, they leave the frame of their homes behind, only carrying the mats. They will often return to the same site when rains return. A larger version of these huts is built for those who live in permanent villages.
An Orma man traditionally has only one wife, even though polygamy is allowed now that the Orma are almost exclusively Muslim. Special ceremonies are performed at the birth of children. Babies are dedicated seven days after they are born. A woman stays secluded for forty days after giving birth. Then, a feast is held with the other women in the village and the baby is dedicated a second time. The firstborn child of either sex is named after one of the paternal grandparents. .
Among the Orma, the line of descent is traced patrilineally, or through the males. Masculinity in attitudes, rituals, and symbolism is customary. Such things as bravery and warrior ethics are also stressed. Spear throwing and fighting are admirable skills among the men, and those who have killed dangerous animals or human enemies are honored.
What are their beliefs?
The Orma are Almost all Muslim, and have been so for three or four generations. They are devoted in their faith, observing all the rites and religious festivals of Islam. Most of the Orma have never heard the name of Jesus. If they have heard His name, it has been through the Islamic teachings that Jesus was simply a prophet, teacher, or good man, but not that He is God's Son.
The original religion of the Orma included belief in a creator God associated with the sky. They recognized the existence of many spirits and associated them with various locations in nature such as mountain tops, trees, groves, rivers, and wells. These beliefs have now apparently been combined with their Islamic beliefs.
* Pray for expatriate and Kenya national missionaries, all of whom are working cross-culturally.
* Pray as other Christian groups come to reach the Orma, that they will not put down the work of those who have been there for years, causing division, and confusion for the Orma.
* Pray for the Kenyan Bible translators working through BTL, Bible Translation and Literacy, that they will be effective.
* Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.
* Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.
More information Joshua Project