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Ilchamus people

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Ilchamus people by Kenyans247(1): Wed 13, May, 2020 11:34am
The Ilchamus (sometimes spelled Iltiamus, also known as Njemps), are a Maa-speaking people living south and southeast of Lake Baringo, Kenya. They number 32,949 people in 2019[1] and are closely related to the Samburu living more to the north-east in the Rift Valley Province They are said to be the smallest ethnic group in Kenya.[citation needed] Their language is one of the Eastern Nilotic Maa languages, closely related to the Samburu language (between 89% and 94% lexical similarity), to the point of it being considered a Samburu dialect by some. Together, Samburu and Ilchamus form the northern division of the Maa languages.[2][3]

In their oral traditions, the Ilchamus economy underwent a succession of elaborations: from foraging and fishing to a sophisticated system of irrigation, and then this was mixed with pastoralism under the influence of Samburu immigrants and neighbouring Maasai. These changes involved a series of embellishments in their culture and social organization.[4] However, this evolving system did not survive the challenges of the capitalist economy in post-colonial Kenya, leading to a more polarized society with diminishing prospects for the majority of Ilchamus.

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