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What You Didn’t Know About the Sabaot Community

Sabaot is one of the ethnic groups of the wider Kalenjin communicating found in Mt Elgon, Kenya, and Eastern parts of Uganda.

The community is divided into six clans which are largely recognized by their dialects, which include Pok, Somek, Mosop, Kony, Bong’omek, and Sabiny.

According to the 2019 census, the total number of people in this community is more than three hundred thousand.

Rodgers Maru a Sabaot elder says the Sabaot community moved into the Western highlands in the Rift valley area of Kenya at around 700BC .

It is said that the majority of the Sabaot community lived in the Sengwer area near the Cherengany hills, and later spread to Bungoma county and others moved to the Southern and Western parts of Kenya.

Sabaot is a collective term that has a special meaning as he explains Maru.

“It comprises dialects in the Sabaot community and each was named according to their geographical areas, their place of living i.e the Pok, Somek, Mosop, Kony, Bong ‘omek and Sebei. They slightly differ in the accent they speak but they understand each other’s. “said Maru.

The Sabaot had vast lands that enabled them to practice cattle herding.

“Originally Sabaot were hunters and gatherers, their lives depended on fruits and hunting and gathering of animals. They lived in the forests but after being assimilated by other Kalenjins they introduced cattle keeping. “noted Maru.

This community has had to change their way of life to a greater extent from pastoralists to planting maize and vegetables due to inadequate land.

Both men and women were circumcised in this community. Female Genital Mutilation was believed to reduce immorality, a concept that is against the law.

Sabaot is a very unique compared to any other tribe in Kenya.

“What makes us very unique is our geographical location. We are people who are adjacent to the forest. The language that they speak is very different from other Kalenjins “, he said.

Sabaot had the Orkoiyot system of leadership as in the wider Kalenjin community, it was used to settle disputes among the people.

“We were not ruled by the king but there was Orkoiyot system of leadership who had powers to oversee and warn the community. Orkoiyot also settled disputes among the neighboring communities,” Maru said.

And like any other Africa community in this country, this community ate foodstuffs ie ugali, meat, and sour milk.

The Sabaot community greatly appreciates the famous “Koito ”
marriage ceremony as it is in African communities and especially in the wider Kalenjin community.

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