In the arid air of the region we find the Chalbi Desert nestled next to Lake Turkana, the largest desert lake in the world. Located in the province is also the river Ewaso Ng’iro and Mount Kenya, whose heights stretch 5200 meters in the sky, making it taller than any other geographic feature in Kenya and granting it the designation of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hidden within the northern portion of the Eastern Province’s Lake Turkana is what remains of the speakers of the El Molo language. The language itself is routed in the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. Today, However, there is little documentation and data currently available on the number of speakers remaining. What is known is that the language is on the verge of extinction if it has not already become extinct.
As the years progressed the El Molo tribes within the area have moved around eventually joining other tribes such as the Nilotic who speak one of the Nilo-Saharan languages and also have different customs. These amalgamations have caused not only the loss of much of the El Molo language but also of the cultural customs as the El Molo people have adopted the customs of the Nilotic people or whatever other tribe they join with rather than maintain their own.
While this has painted a bleak picture for the El Molo people and there way of life there is still many historical sites which have been preserved to remember a way of life that may soon no longer exist. It may not be the same as the real thing but it is far better than the alternative which is the fate that many other languages have found. And for the optimistic out there, with little documentation on the current standing of the language comes hope that out there may be tribes of speakers of the language still thriving and on their own. There is always hope even if it is only a sliver.
Thank you for joining us on this journey in languages.