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The Pokomo



They are 35,000 forming the 27th Kenyan ethnic group. They live on the banks of the river Tana and are divided into three main sub-groups; the lower Pokomo living near the coast, the upper Pokomo living between Garsen and Bora, and the Riverine living near Garissa. These three groups are subdivided into clans (vyeti).

The lower Pokomo are composed of five vyeti. The vyeti is a territorial unity divided into several Masindo, and the masindo is based on patrilinear descent and practice exogamy. A usual Pokomo village consists of fifteen to tweny huts of reeds and grass. The family is an economic unit where the growing of crops and fishing are the usual activities. The planting of the land and the harvest is mainly women's work. The men take care of fishing and the trading. In contrast to most other people where self-sufficiency is their aim, the Pokomo's goal is over-production. To maintain a basic status in life one naturally has to be able to feed a casual guest well.

Then there is the entertainment involved in feeding fellow workers, and guests at funerals and weddings. The different social levels are acquired by gifts of food to the elder council, often done in the form of a feast. A father has to buy the admission of his son to the first degree of the age-set system. The husband pays a dowry for his wife. The men's system is divided in five grades. The highest one is the Ngadzi or elders council, and is the traditional Pokomo government, in addition to being the most prestigious social organization.



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