Usually, when a baby is born, it triggers joy and celebration in the community within which the birthing happened. But in the El Molo tribe of Kenya, childbirth sparks mixed feelings because while it calls for celebration, it also means someone must die to ensure the population remains below hundred.
The EL MOLO, known as the hunters of the Jade Sea is one of the over 70 tribes in Kenya, mainly dwelling in a small village on the shores of Lake Turkana in the south of Loiyangalani at Masarbit south district of Kenya’s northern Eastern Province. They are also known by other names, including Elmolo, Dehes, Fura-Pawa and Ldes.
It is reported that although the community has a population of between 200 and 300, they believe that the real El Molo are just 99, comprising men, women and children. Their language is El Molo, belonging to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family.
El Molo people are noted to be a unique tribe because of their cultural, customary and spiritual beliefs, one of which is that when a baby is born, someone else must die to keep a balance between life and death.
Afrimax English visited the El Molo community recently to shed light on their culture, livelihood, and access to necessary amenities among others.
It is the belief of El Molo people that their population must not exceed ninety-nine (99) people, so as children are being born, some people who have had the chance to live must die to keep the population below 100.
Once a baby is born, the elders of the tribe are consulted and those who have lived long and fulfilling lives are chosen to die. They accept to die in good fate because it’s deemed to be a recognition of the life cycle and respect for their ancestors who passed on the customs and beliefs to them.
According to them, the spirits and the cosmos guide them in deciding who dies next. It is unclear if the chosen people die naturally or how they give way to the new babies.
Afrimax English reports that at one point, their population reached hundred (100) but it didn’t last for 24 hours because it was considered a sacrilege. It is unclear how it was quickly rectified.
Since nobody knows who will die after a child is born to keep the El Molo population in check, they are always virtually sitting on tenterhooks. Interestingly, if someone falls ill during the period of the child being born, he or she becomes restless even if he or she is not the one appointed to die.
Known for being very spiritual and worshipping of WAAK/WAHK, El Molo are mostly fishermen who depend on the lake Turkana for food and livelihood.
Frequent droughts, lack of farming lands, good drinking water and food reportedly make it difficult for their community to contain more people. It is unclear if these informed their ancestors to place a ceiling on the population, which was bequeathed to them.Follow us on social media:
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