Welcome to Loiyangalani, the place of water! A town where hawkers literally sell you stones. Yes, you heard me; stones …and bones!
Soon as you set foot in the town, a bunch of elderly and young men alike will ambush you, each shoving their precious stones in your face, trying to convince you to buy them. If you’re one of those peeps attracted to shiny objects like yours truly, you’ll end up bagging more quartz than you can carry. I regret buying the stones on the first day though, a day later, the stones were going for literally a quarter of the price I paid for one. Lesson in life, never ever buy stuff from the first hawker!
This little oasis town was our home for the 2 day duration of the Marsabit-Lake Turkana Festival. There are so many resorts around, complete with palm trees, swimming pools and sand. For a split second, your mind might trick you into believing that you’re in some coastal town. There is no electricity here and the resorts run on generators; the bright owners have installed solar panels. At night, you’ll be lulled to sleep by the annoying drone of generators. Temperatures are so high, cold beer is a myth . Loiyangalani is home to the Rendille, Turkana , El Molo among other Nothern tribes.
We visited the El Molo tribe that reside on the shores of L.Turkana . This is possibly one of Kenya’s smallest tribes (I was out playing with the children when the tour guide was giving the facts about this tribe so this is about the much I know :D) Before being influenced by the other communities in Loiyangalani, the El Molo depended entirely on the Lake for their livelihood. Aside from fishing, they still hunt hippos, turtles and crocodiles for food and sale.
Hippo hunting was considered a very dangerous affair. Before any Hippo hunt, warriors would spend the day at the holy shrines where a medicine man would offer up prayers and sacrifices to ensure that they returned safely. The El Molo have their holy shrines located at Lorian Island. This is where all the tribe’s important activities such as circumcision of both women and men, prayers, sacrifices and healing rituals would take place.
The lake and island on this side are still unspoiled and the water is as pure as it gets.
On the other side of the Island, there is a fish processing factory. Here, Nile perch is skinned, filleted then dried and stored for transportation to other parts of Kenya.
About a kilometer away sits the Desert Museum. It contains artifacts about the culture of the tribes in the North as well as fossils excavated. The co-ordianator is one Mr. Mogal, an Indian-Kenyan who was a former secondary school teacher in Marsabit town. He spent his youthful years undertaking expeditions and studying the cultures of the tribes in Marsabit; the man is a walking encyclopedia. You could spend an entire day just listening to his stories.
My favorite part was definitely getting to play with those children and the motorboat ride! I got drenched from head to toe after it all but it was worth it. That feeling of freedom and liberation as the wind caressed my face coupled with the adrenaline rush from the speeding boat was priceless !