Sustainable Development in Africa & Satellites - page 32

herearemore thanfivecommunities
of people residing in the northern
region of Kenya. These include the
Turkana, Rendille, Dassanech, Gabra,
Borana, El-molo and Samburu. They are
mainly pastoralists and practise different
cultures and traditions. Divination is
used for prediction of different events
be it weather, disease, fortune, death
or any other event of importance within
the community. Widely practised is
or reading of entrails of
animals to predict such events as drought
caused by lack of rains or floods. Entrails
from goats are the most commonly used
as it is possible to read the veins of the
entrails in totality. Entrails readingmainly
involves the layering of veins. Veins that
are heavy with blood and layered point to
onset of rain in the very near future. Dry
veins indicate drought.
Powers of the elders
The other divination is
which is
a very ancient method of watching and
listening to birds and interpreting their
movements and sounds. Certain birds,
if seen, can be used to predict storms
or floods. Such birds include the Grey
go-away-bird, Grey Loerie called
by the Rendille and Lel (
) among the Turkana. The whistle
of this rare bird during the night along
dry riverbeds predicts onset of heavy
rains and flooding within a week. The
constant cry of jackal through the nights
also indicates onset of rains.
Specific elders are believed to possess
these powers or revelations that come
from a higher influence. They are
considered to control these acts during
their lifetime and can only pass on the
same authority through divination from a
higher power.
Scientists and diviners
There are proverbs that relate to weather
within these communities including
these two as used by the Gabra people.
Do’ofti Waaqa Duubassa, Taa Naama
(The signs of God’s provision of
rain are clouds, while that of a man is the
tongue/mouth- what you speak!)
LaffRob ItGoothanaan, ThurrattAbburrattaan.
(The area that you need to utilize during
the rainy season. Its planning starts in
earnest in the dry season)
Today, most of these groups of people
embrace modern technologies to predict
weather. Instruments such as rain
gauge, wind barometers can be seen
dotting the landscape. Information is
relayed to the people by scientists on the
ground, using satellite imagery as well
as other means of weather prediction.
However, the divination method is still
alive within these communities and
scientists are working hand in hand
with the diviners in realising a common
goal for the sustainable development of
these areas which are currently facing
serious issues related to climate and
anthropogenic effects on resource
availability and management. Such
is the IGAD Climate Prediction and
Applications Centre, which is working
with a project known as Integrating
Indigenous Knowledge in Climate Risk
Management in support of Community-
Based Adaptation in Kenya.
Dr Purity W. Kiura,
Archaeology-National Museums
Indigenous knowledge
Turkana dancers perform to celebrate the onset of rains at Lokori, South Turkana (Kenya), October 2010. If rain is often greatly expected, El Niño and La Niña
cycles can cause massive flooding in low lying and poorly drained areas like South Turkana.
© Mark Kamau
The Grey Go-away-bird, has a distinctive loud
alarm call ‘quare’, sounding like ‘Go-away’. It can
be used to predict storms or floods.
© Axel Bührmann
30 - Sustainable Development in Africa & Satellites
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