Nandi - Encyclopedia

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NANDI, an East African tribe of mixed Nilotic, Bantu and Hamitic origin. With them are more or less closely allied the Lumbwa (correctly Kipsikis), Buret (or Puret) and Sotik (Soot) tribes, as well as the Elgonyi (properly Kony) of Mount Elgon. They have also affinities with the Masai tribes. The Nandi-Lumbwa peoples inhabit the country stretching south from Mount Elgon to about 1° S. and bounded east by the escarpment of the eastern rift-valley and west by the territory of the tribes, such as the Kavirondo, dwelling round the Victoria Nyanza. They have given their name to the Nandi plateau. The Hamitic strain in these allied tribes is derived from the Galla; they also exhibit Pygmy elements. Their original home was in the north, and they probably did not reach their present home until the beginning of the 19th century. They differ considerably ' The battle raged in the district to the S., E. and N. of the town, the operations extending from St Nicolas du Port (S.) to the bridge of Bouxieres (N.). The chief struggle took place on the banks of the stream of Bon Secours, which now runs entirely underground, flowing from the S.W. into the Meurthe. Much of the battlefield is now covered by modern buildings, but S.W. of the town a cross marks the spot where the body of Charles the Bold was discovered.

in physical appearance; some resemble the Masai, being men of tall stature with features almost Caucasian, other are dwarfish with markedly negro features. Like the Masai, Turkana and Suk, the Nandi-Lumbwa tribes were originally nomadic, but they have become agriculturists. They own large herds of cattle. They have a double administrative system, the chief medicine man or Orkoiyot being supreme chief and regulating war affairs, while representatives of the people, called Kiruogik, manage the ordinary affairs of the tribe. The medicine men are of Masai origin and the office is hereditary. The young men form a separate warrior class to whom is entrusted the care of the country. A period of about 7-1- years is spent in this class, and the ceremony of handing over the country from one "age" to the succeeding "age" is of great importance. The arms of the warriors are a stabbing spear, shield, sword and club. Many also possess rifles. All the Nandi are divided into clans, each having its sacred animal or totem. They have no towns, each family living on the land it cultivates. The huts are of circular pattern. The Nandi believe in a supreme deity - Asis - who takes a benevolent interest in their welfare, and to whom prayers are addressed daily. They also worship ancestors and consider earthquakes to be caused by the spirits moving in the underworld. They practise circumcision, and girls undergo a similar operation. Spitting is a sign of blessing. Their scanty clothing consists chiefly of dressed skins. The tribal mark is a small hole bored in the upper part of the ear. Their language is Nilotic and in general construction resembles the Masai. It has been slightly influenced by the Somali tongue. The primitive hunting tribe known as the Wandorobo speak a dialect closely resembling Nandi.

The Nandi at one time appear to have been subject to the Masai, but when the country was first known to Europeans they were independent and occupied the plateau which bears their name. Hardy mountaineers and skilful warriors, they closed their territory to all who did not get special permission, and thus blocked the road from Mombasa to Uganda alike to Arab and Swahili. Caravans that escaped the Masai frequently fell victims to the Nandi, who were adepts at luring them to destruction. When the railway to the Victoria Nyanza was built it had to cross the Nandi country. The tribesmen, who had already shown hostility to the whites, attacked both the railway and the telegraph line and raided other tribes. Eventually (1905-1906) the Nandi were removed by the British to reserves somewhat north of the railway zone (see British East Africa). The Lumbwa reserve lies south of the railway, and farther south still are the reserves of the Buret and Sotik.

See A. C. Hollis, The Nandi: Their Language and Folk-lore, with introduction by Sir Charles Eliot (Oxford, 1909), and the works there cited.

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