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People of Kenya: Ogiek

Ogiek people are classified under the Nilo-hamatic speakers Ogiek people have a language called Ogiek. The people’s language is considered to be having both Maasai and Kalenjin  words but with an absolute different dialect. It is off course a different culture and traditions.

These people are minority in the Districts which the Maasai and the Kalenjin are the majority.  Their population is estimated to be approximately 20,000 people. The Maasai nicknamed them “ iltorobo” that meant a poor person without herds of cattle.


The community is a hunter gatherer group and solely depend on the forest for food, medicine, shelter and preservation of their culture. Majority of its members live in Mau forest, in the great Rift Valley Province, being the largest and the only remaining forest dwellers in Kenya.

They live in groups and clans. Ogiek means ‘ caretaker of all’ of plants and animals, or scientifically the flora and fauna they are found in places where tress, birds and wild animals provides them with psychological comfort. They are among the poorest people in Kenya due to high level of illiteracy and their lifestyle of hunting and gathering, which is considered unsustainable. With the illiteracy rate rating about 98% with 95% living below poverty line.