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Mobilité

Mobile sedentism? The Marakwet settlements of the Elgeyo Escarpment, north-western Kenya

Sédentisme mobile ? Les établissements Marakwet de l’escarpement d’Elgeyo, au nord-ouest du Kenya
David K. Kay

Résumés

Alors que la mobilité a longtemps été un thème clé de l’archéologie africaine, son étude s’est généralement concentrée sur des cas de nomadisme de grande envergure, en particulier parmi les populations de ‘chasseurs-cueilleurs’ et de pasteurs. Inversement, les changements dans la forme et la distribution des établissements sédentaires ont été le plus souvent étudiés sur de larges plages spatio-temporelles qui ne prennent pas en compte le rôle des pratiques de subsistance mobiles à des échelles appréciables pour les personnes qui les ont réellement exécutées. Cet article cherche à combler cette lacune scientifique par l’application pratique du concept de ‘sédentisme changeant’ parmi les communautés Marakwet de l’escarpement nord d’Elgeyo du Kenya. En combinant les données d’enquêtes archéologiques/contemporaines sur les ménages avec les récits oraux locaux, cet article explore la manière dont le déplacement progressif des ensembles résidentiels individuels a contribué au déplacement progressif de l’implantation Marakwet dans le paysage au cours des deux derniers siècles. L’évolution des modes de résidence sera également liée à des tendances plus larges en matière de pratiques de subsistance mobiles qui s’étendent à l’ensemble du paysage environnant et concernent plusieurs générations. Ces pratiques ont elles-mêmes habilement incorporé de nombreux changements majeurs dans les modes de vie de la communauté, notamment l’introduction de nouvelles cultures, l’activité missionnaire chrétienne, la construction de routes et la croissance de petits centres commerciaux. De telles pratiques incarnent une approche particulièrement souple de la continuité socioculturelle, dans laquelle la mobilité situationnelle a été vitale pour garantir la résilience globale de ces communautés et du paysage accidenté qu’elles considèrent comme leur foyer. Des approches fines et multidisciplinaires sont essentielles pour reconnaitre l’importance de la mobilité dans des contextes par ailleurs sédentaires, et il est à espérer que cette étude particulière inspirera d’autres efforts de ce type sur l’ensemble du continent.

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The research behind this paper was carried out as a part of my recently completed doctoral studies at the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, which was largely funded by a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership scholarship, with additional funding provided by the University of Cambridge Fieldwork Fund, King’s College Graduate Research Fund, Smuts Memorial Trust, Dorothy Garrod Memorial Trust, and Mary Euphrasia Mosley Fund, and through a British Institute in Eastern Africa Thematic Grant and National Geographic Explorer Grant (grant no. EC-217R-18). Field research was carried out under a succession of annual research permits (nos. NACOSTI/P/16/94222/14997, NACOSTI/P/18/94222/20518 and NACOSTI/P/20/3464) issued by the Government of Kenya’s National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation. The residents of Kacheseker and Embobut were themselves extremely welcoming and overwhelmingly supportive in the realisation of this research, particularly the inimitable Joseph Kimutai Cheptorus, Jebet Dorcas Kipkore, and Timothy Kipkeu Kipruto. The specific focus of this paper was developed in preparation for a presentation at the virtually held conference ‘Extracting the Past from the Present’ organised by the BantuRivers Project team in March 2021, and refined further for a subsequent virtual presentation at the Society of Africanist Archaeologists’ Biennial Meeting in September 2021. I am very grateful to the organisers and participants of both conferences for their logistical efforts and constructive feedback, to my long-standing friend and professional sounding board Dr Samuel Lunn-Rockliffe, and to the anonymous reviewer whose extremely useful feedback greatly improved the final form of this paper.

Introduction

  • 1 D. Grossman, D. Siddle, 1998; F.R. Kaloko, 1983; M. Silberfein, 1998a; R.K. Udo, 1966.
  • 2 United Nations, 2019.
  • 3 AGRA, 2019.
  • 4 C.S. van der Waal, 1991.
  • 5 D.F. Bryceson, 1996, p. 107.
  • 6 J.O.C. Onyemelukwe, 1980; P.S. Robinson, 2003; C. Southey, 1982; A. Todes, 2001.
  • 7 M. Mashiri et al., 2008; A. Zvoleff et al., 2009.

1Rural settlement change across sub-Saharan Africa has long been studied with a particular emphasis on the historical impact of macro-phenomena such as population growth, migration, economic change/growth, and infrastructural development.1 Models built around such factors have generally been broad-brush in their approach and have tended to view change as primarily attributable to exogenous ‘prime movers’, in which rural populations are depicted as essentially reactive entities otherwise given to long periods of tradition-bound cultural continuity. As such, the approximately 57% of sub-Saharan Africans who live in rural areas2—of whom 70–80% are small-holder farmers3—often remain characterised as somehow undifferentiated and unchanging, whilst rural areas themselves are continually perceived as economically stifled poverty sinks.4 Such perspectives have long influenced development-oriented discussions and policy proposals centred on the perceived deficiencies of dispersed and/or mobile settlement,5 many of which have blamed traditional land tenure and social organisation for stymieing rural African communities’ fully productive integration within the modern transnational economy.6 Such tropes have painted rural communities as inherently risk averse and their continued geographical dispersion as comprising a major stumbling block to the successful roll-out of many development projects, from healthcare to electrification.7

  • 8 E.C. Green, R.B. Isely, 1988; O. Oki et al., 2015; G. Porter, 2002.
  • 9 Cf. G.A. Myers, 1999.
  • 10 I.A. Adalemo, 1967; A. Arecchi, 1984; R.B. Dakayne, 1962; N. Georgulas, 1967; D. Grossman, 1971; M. (...)

2Alternative models have conversely argued that development planners should seek to learn from rural African communities’ own adaptive techniques for living, and to engage with extant settlement patterns rather than remould them wholesale, as seen in some infrastructural proposals and successful community-led service provision projects.8 However, whilst such schemes have advocated for more nuanced understandings of localised settlement processes, they have rarely engaged in concrete analyses towards those same ends. Consequently, conceptions of rural settlement within Africanist development literature have often continued to operate along the simplistic lines set-up by earlier geographical and historical studies, whereby the dynamism, internal complexity and contextual variation of sedentary rural communities’ modes of habitation may be recognised but are rarely explicated in any detail.9 Instead, agrarian African communities have commonly been assumed to adopt a dispersed form of settlement according to ecological impetus and social tradition, with nucleation occurring during cases of civil unrest, defence against disease, colonial interference, and/or post-independence governmental resettlement schemes, and as the inevitable outcome of agricultural mechanisation and economic marketisation in the modern era.10

  • 11 C.Z. Ashley et al., 2016; A. Ogundiran, 2016.
  • 12 O.J.C. Boles et al., 2019.
  • 13 P. Lane, 2009.
  • 14 P.J. Lane, 2016.
  • 15 O.J.C. Boles, P.J. Lane, 2016.

3One interpretive stumbling block which has proved particularly durable in maintaining this conceptual status quo is the tendency of past researchers to view the sedentary settlement of predominantly agrarian African communities as categorically distinct from the habitually mobile forms of habitation employed by so-called hunter-gatherers and nomad pastoralists.11 Within eastern Africa, pastoralist lifeways in particular have provided rich investigative material for scholars from various disciplines, who have together emphasised the ways in which mobile pastoralism has long been entangled within wider ecosystems. For instance, in contrast to relatively recent narratives of erosion and savannah grassland degradation which place the blame on indigenous stock keeping, more historically attentive approaches have revealed a far more complex picture in which recent environmental pressures are in large part legacies of colonial land appropriation12 or indeed issues of great duration that pastoral communities have long learnt to either live alongside or actively manage.13 In many cases, cattle keeping has promoted ecological diversity—for instance, where soils enriched by cattle dung deposited within temporary encampments have facilitated the formation of grassy glades within expanses of scrubland.14 Research into vegetal change and soil chemistry in eastern Africa has tracked the ecological impact of such sites back to at least the 15th century AD,15 highlighting the critical long-term role that such nomadic settlement has played in the formation of contemporary landscapes.

  • 16 E.g. N. Arazi, 1999; J. Fleisher, 2001, 2014; A.F.C. Holl, 1996; N. Khalaf et al., 2019; K.C. MacDo (...)
  • 17 M.E. Clark, 2003; H. Haskell et al., 1988; R.J. McIntosh, 2005; R.J. McIntosh, S.K. McIntosh, 2003.
  • 18 J. Fleisher, 2014; J. Fleisher, F. Sulas, 2015; F. Sulas et al., 2017; S. Wynne-Jones, 2007.
  • 19 A. Antonites, 2014; A. Antonites, C.Z. Ashley, 2016; A. LaViolette, J. Fleisher, 2005, p. 336-339.

4In cases such as these, mobile patterns of quotidian habitation are recognised as being integral not only to the social life of the communities in question, but also to the wider landscape settings which they inhabit. Conversely, the archaeological and historical study of sedentary settlements has tended to regard problems of movement through a much wider lens: that of en masse population migration and/or the broad-scale distribution of settlement sites through time. Such themes are particularly evident in the many regional archaeological surveys that have been carried out across the continent,16 as well as in more in-depth projects investigating a variety of contextually specific themes. The latter include the study of variable resources and urban–rural networks throughout the Inland Niger Delta,17 the processes of social negotiation encapsulated within the medieval entrepôts of the Swahili coast,18 and the complex economies of cattle transhumance, arable agriculture, and long-distance trade connecting the ‘imagined communities’ of the so-called Zimbabwean Tradition.19 However, whilst spatio-temporal variance and the study of mobile practices may be central to all these projects, their resolution remains comparatively coarse, and the complex historical specificities of individual sedentary settlements and the cross-generational lives of their inhabitants remain elusive.

Shifting sedentism and historical ecology

  • 20 I. Kopytoff, 1987.
  • 21 See also J.M. Hunter, 1971.
  • 22 A.E. Nyerges, 1992.
  • 23 A.E. Nyerges, 1992, p. 872-873.

5In contrast to this archaeological lacuna, there are several anthropological and historical studies that have formulated detailed approaches to the structural mobility which underlies the otherwise sedentary character of many rural African settlement systems. Perhaps the best-known of these is Kopytoff’s model of the “internal African frontier”,20 which focuses on areas of weak political control where constant small-scale migration and kin-group fissioning create permanent “interstitial” frontiers between communities.21 Such areas are often characterised by low population densities and predominantly inhabited by segmentary societies where the principle of ‘wealth-in-people’ underpins the accrual of social power. The model can be extended to encompass ecological factors, particularly the environmental and labour demands of swidden agriculture, whereby social/ecological inequalities are perpetuated within a shifting settlement system in which labour is often co-opted by gerontocratic elites.22 In such cases, labour shortages engendered by habitual impermanence and a general lack of social cohesion can lead to the adoption of more intensive agricultural strategies to boost short-term production, including the cultivation of short fallows and cash cropping. However, intensification carries its own risks—for instance, the suppression of forest succession and the increased degradation of soils, necessitating eventual abandonment and fresh land clearance.23 The internal frontier thus comprises a landscape in which mobility becomes both a driver of, and response to, patterns of risk management across intertwined social and ecological relationships.

  • 24 P.W. van Arsdale, 1992.
  • 25 D. Turton, 1988, 1996.
  • 26 F.P. Conant, 1965; M.I.J. Davies, 2009, 2013a, 2014; M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016.

6However, despite the concept’s rapid acceptance across a variety of disciplines,24 it should be remembered that the “internal frontier” was conceived within a specific political-cum-ecological context and should not be applied uncritically across the entire continent. Nevertheless, Kopytoff’s model sets a well-developed precedent for the recognition of habitual forms of periodically mobile sedentism as crucial components of specific socio-cultural complexes, rather than merely tangential outcomes of broader-scale economic or political processes. Similar iterations of gradually shifting settlement systems have been studied across sub-Saharan Africa by both archaeologists and anthropologists. For instance, Turton’s analysis of the punctuated migration of the Mursi people within Ethiopia’s Omo Valley shows how gradual, cross-generational movements emerge from long-term histories of flexible responses to varying social/ecological conditions, whilst incorporating far-reaching changes to both the community’s territorial occupation and ethnic identity.25 Similar sequential movements have been noted for other so-called segmentary groups, such as the agriculturalist Pokot communities of the Wei Wei Valley to the immediate north of Marakwet, where both the settled and cultivated lands of multiple lineage groups effectively ‘leap-frog’ each other in distinct bands that sequentially progress up the valley as successive strips of land are cleared, farmed and fallowed/abandoned.26

  • 27 S. Canós Donnay, 2016.
  • 28 S. Canós Donnay, 2016, p. 467.
  • 29 See also F.P. Conant, 1962.
  • 30 S. Canós Donnay, 2016, p. 465-466.

7Canós Donnay has similarly traced the gradual shifting of settlement across the Upper Casamance region of southern Senegal,27 though in this case the settlements in question comprised nucleated villages/towns whose periodic displacement appears to have been more wholesale in nature. These settlements were moved every few centuries for a variety of reasons, from soil exhaustion to intra-settlement politicking as well as larger-scale conflict and insecurity, but preserved their names, identities and community institutions throughout their various relocations. Constrained sedentary mobility hence seems to have long been “an intrinsic and constant dimension of the articulation of social dynamics” in the region.28 Canós Donnay here adopts the term ‘shifting sedentism’ to encapsulate the means by which mobile practices can be incorporated within modes of communal habitation which are otherwise sedentary in nature and most often tied to arable agriculture as their principal means of subsistence. However, she also notes that these practices (and their resultant spatio-temporal patterning) can vary greatly amongst communities, even within a relatively constrained geographic region.29 Understanding these variances will entail far more detailed analyses of how both individual and group lifeways articulate with/inform wider mobile practices—relationships which currently remain poorly understood within Upper Casamance, as indeed across much of sub-Saharan Africa.30

  • 31 W. Balée, 1998; C.L. Crumley, 1994.
  • 32 C.L. Crumley, 2018.
  • 33 W. Balée, 2006, p. 77-79; C.L. Crumley, 2018.
  • 34 C.L. Crumley, 2019, p. 10-13.
  • 35 C.L. Crumley, 2019, p. 10; W. Balée, 2006, p. 78.

8One particular body of analytic and interpretative thought that is of potentially use in addressing this lacuna is that gathered under the conceptual umbrella of ‘historical ecology’. Broadly speaking, historical ecology comprises an interdisciplinary research programme centred on the assertion that to understand any given landscape it is necessary to regard both human and non-human elements as equal in their capacity to affect one another.31 It thus views humans as a component of all ecosystems, and history as encompassing both the social and physical past of our own species alongside that of the earth system in general.32 In this vein, historical-ecologists advocate holistic analyses of how human and non-human relations produce landscapes within particular locales, alongside their cross-context comparison. This multi-scalar approach stems in large part from the varied intellectual traditions from which historical ecology draws, including the cultural geography of Carl Sauer, the Annales School of history epitomised by Ferdinand Braudel, the early ecological and ethical work of Aldo Leopold, and Boasian traditions of early US-based anthropology.33 In its present manifestations, complex and adaptive systems theories have also proved heavily influential on historical ecology,34 whilst the Annalistes formulation of landscape (paysage) as a multi-temporal entity continues to foster the humanistic tendencies of many associated researchers.35

  • 36 P. Sinclair et al., 2018, p. 21-25.
  • 37 C.L. Crumley, 2019, p. 10-11; M.I.J. Davies, 2013b, p. 23; P. Sinclair et al., 2018, p. 25-26.
  • 38 W. Balée, 2006, p. 83.
  • 39 C.L. Crumley, 1995, 2005.
  • 40 W.S. McCulloch, 1945.
  • 41 C.L. Crumley, 1995, p. 3.

9The aforementioned mode of systemic thinking specifically focusses on the dynamic functions of non-linear systems, in which non-equilibrium is taken to be the norm.36 It emphasises the emergent properties of complexity, in which a given system’s constituent components operate in a gestalt manner, where not all relations progress smoothly or even necessarily in sync and thus trend towards novelty over time. This is not to say that external stimuli cannot precipitate large-scale reorganisation but that they occur within an already mobile and intrinsically integrative context.37 Disturbance is thus regarded as a constant characteristic of all systems, which in an ecosystem context is neither necessarily ‘good’ nor ‘bad’ but depends on analytic perspective and a long-term view of system ‘health’.38 Such systems are also often perceived as possessing heterarchical organisation.39 Originally a neuroscientific concept,40 heterarchy can be defined as “the relation of elements to one another when they are unranked or when they possess the potential for being ranked in a number of different ways”.41 As a conceptual tool, heterarchy can be applied to the interpretation of both ecological systems and patterns of settlement and political organisation—emphasising the contingent nature of agentive capacity across heterogenous contexts.

  • 42 Sensu A. Giddens, 1984.
  • 43 W.E. Doolittle, 1984, 2019.
  • 44 L.S. Cordell, F. Plog, 1979; M.I.J. Davies, 2014.
  • 45 T. Ingold, 1993, 2000.
  • 46 W.E. Doolittle, 2019.

10Heterarchical organisation can also help account for emergent change in contexts where agency is limited, contested, or even unintentional, yet serves to both perpetuate and modify broader social-cum-environmental systems. Much historical–ecological investigation is thus devoted to the analysis of how the ‘unintended consequences’ of repetitive, practical behaviours42 engender moments of small-scale innovation which in turn lead to long-term changes within ecological systems that feature humans as a keystone species. For instance, Doolittle’s model of incremental agricultural change43 explores how complex agricultural systems can arise from the cumulative efforts of individual farmers who, though operating within shared environmental and cultural constraints, are not themselves focussed on the creation or maintenance of the overarching system.44 This perspective is somewhat akin to Ingold’s conception of “taskscapes”, in which landscapes come into being through the interaction of diverse practices of dwelling, individually quotidian but accruing cumulative affect over the longue durée.45 That said, Doolittle’s approach is perhaps more explicitly processual in its focus on expedient human behaviours aimed principally at survival, particularly when dealing with hazards of low magnitude but high frequency. Such expediency often engenders principles/practices of relative impermanence, in which temporary interventions come and go through time, sometimes accruing into landscape features of unintentional longevity, and sometimes not.46

  • 47 M.I.J. Davies, 2013a.
  • 48 C.L. Redman, 2005.
  • 49 E.g. C.L. Crumley et al., 2018; M.K. Nelson, D. Shilling, 2018.
  • 50 M.I.J. Davies, 2012; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2016; P.J. Lane, 2010; A.L. Logan et al., 2019; D. Stump(...)

11In either case, it is the suitability of particular interventions for sustaining life in the present instance which is of prime import for their practitioners, and it is the variability and flexibility of their modified repetition which sustain community lifeways over multi-generational timescales. Such assertions have been central to many recent discussions of ‘resilience’ within archaeology. Contrary to exhortations of ‘sustainability’, which tend to promote static continuities of practice in response to external environmental conditions, resilience theory is akin to historical ecology in its emphasis on continuity through change, alongside the socially embedded nature of human–environmental relations in which decision making is often rooted at a household level.47 This perspective does not preclude the long-term success of intensive agricultural practices, centrally managed or otherwise. However, it does stress that centralisation is not necessary for such systems to function and that when it is present the overarching system typically incorporates smaller, ad hoc modifications that ultimately extend its longevity—which, when no longer effective, can lead to wholesale reorganisation in favour of alternative lifeways.48 It is in this vein that many scholars have called for agricultural development to draw on ‘traditional ecological knowledge’ over industrialised, capital-input interventions,49 and for archaeologists to formulate long-term narratives of diachronic change that comprise ‘useable pasts’ for the contemporary world, Africa included.50

  • 51 AAREA, 2018.
  • 52 E. Boserup 1981.
  • 53 A.L. Logan et al., 2019, p. 423.
  • 54 C. Ferro Vázquez et al., 2017; T.K. Kabora et al., 2020; C. Lang, D. Stump, 2017; D. Stump, 2006; S (...)
  • 55 African Farming Research Network, n.d.; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2016.
  • 56 M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2014; see also M.I.J. Davies, 2009, 2013a, 2 (...)

12The Archaeology of Agricultural Resilience in Eastern Africa (AAREA) Project has been a particularly notable example of the latter trend, pursuing a comparative investigation of the terraced landscapes of Engaruka (Tanzania) and Konso (Ethiopia).51 The project refutes Boserup’s hypothesis that communities invest labour in intensive agricultural practices only to increase yields,52 instead showing household decision making was/is largely based on creative approaches to risk mitigation.53 This proved true both of the still-cultivated terraces of Konso, where intercropping and locally distinct terracing systems were used to create seasonally variable agricultural niches alongside the emergence of new erosional regimes, and of the archaeological landscape of Engaruka, where crop diversification and the gradual, un-centralised accretion of large-scale infrastructure continued for centuries before its final abandonment.54 Similar research amongst the Marakwet communities of the Kerio Valley at the foot of the Elgeyo Escarpment—alongside comparative work in Tivland (Nigeria) and Bokoni (South Africa)55—has similarly demonstrated how household and community decision making regarding the maintenance, modification or abandonment of intensive agricultural techniques and infrastructure operates within a complex system of trade-offs, feedback and other effects. Flexible responses to both adversity and opportunity lie at the core of these systems, even to the point of more occasional instances of large-scale change/reorganisation.56

  • 57 M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016, p. 82.
  • 58 M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2014; H.L. Moore, 1986.

13This multiplex of entangled social, cultural, and ecological processes has resulted in a heterogenous and inherently dynamic landscape, which over the longue durée has been successfully inhabited by local Marakwet communities through the deployment of a diverse complement of ‘technologies of life’, founded in principles of movement, innovation, and improvisation.57 Many of these ‘technologies’ are themselves rooted in household-based practice, with multiple households both within and across communities contributing to mutual labour projects, modes of social interaction, and cultural events.58 Landscape-spanning historical–ecological dynamics can thus be seen to be rooted within households, in which change must be regarded as a constant of their constituents’ flexible lifeways, even as the overarching characteristics of the social–environmental landscape have (at least over the past few centuries) retained a recognisable consistency. Likewise, it is this kind of multi-scalar approach—rooted in household contexts but extending across the surrounding landscape—which could also help to elucidate the dynamic settlement histories of these communities and to further our investigation of the mechanisms and variances encapsulated within the broader framework of ‘shifting sedentism’. It is with this agenda in mind that I turn to the specific focus of this paper: the Marakwet settlements of the northern Elgeyo Escarpment in north-western Kenya.

Marakwet and the Elgeyo Escarpment

  • 59 Kenya Forest Service, 2015; H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 21.
  • 60 R.M. Shackleton, 1951, p. 346.
  • 61 P. Mason, A.B. Gibson, 1957, p. 7.
  • 62 C. French, 2015; P. Mason, A.B. Gibson, 1957.

14Marakwet (the name given to both the northern half of Elgeyo Marakwet County and the principal ethnic group who reside within it) presents a highly varied and distinctive landscape. Defining its eastern flank, the Elgeyo Escarpment essentially bridges two distinct environmental zones—rising from the floor of the Kerio Valley at approximately 1000 masl up toward the undulating range of the Cherangani Hills which peak at 3365 masl.59 This great change in elevation across only a few kilometres of longitudinal distance is the result of post-Miocene faulting, with the Escarpment forming a giant fault-scarp along the western wall of the Gregory Rift Valley.60 Although the southern part of the Escarpment is largely defined by sheer cliffs, its northern extension through Marakwet consists of a deeply dissected slope comprising sharp ridges separated by acute, V-shaped valleys.61 The geological base of most of this northern scarp is composed of metamorphosed sedimentary rocks of the Basement System, predominantly banded hornblende-biotite gneisses, frequently cut by anastomosing pegmatitic veins of quartzo-felspathic material. In contrast, the floor of the Kerio Valley consists mostly of dissected lavas and pyroclastic rocks. Several small hills are formed by rocky inliers of the Basement System, whilst much of the surrounding plain is overlain by thick alluvial and/or colluvial deposits.62

Figure1: Map showing location of Kacheseker and other key settlements in the region of Marakwet

Figure1: Map showing location of Kacheseker and other key settlements in the region of Marakwet

David K. Kay, 2020.

  • 63 T. Dietz et al., 1987, p. 16-20.
  • 64 Kenya Forest Service, 2015, p. 4.
  • 65 Joseph Kimutai Cheptorus, pers. comm. November 2020.
  • 66 T. Dietz et al., 1987, p. 16, 19.
  • 67 Kenya Forest Service, 2015; S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 73.
  • 68 P. Mason, A.B. Gibson, 1957, p. 8.

15Rainfall is likewise highly variable, with the Kerio Valley and Elgeyo Escarpment slope typically receiving around 900 mm a year, though this fluctuates with time and location,63 whilst the higher Cherangani Hills receive approximately 1200 mm in the east and 1500 mm in the west.64 The rains across the region occur in two main tranches—the ‘short rains’ beginning around April and the ‘long rains’ in July/August, though again these timings are far from uniform.65 Temperatures can also be high, though in the wet seasons it is much cooler in the highlands as cloud cover tends to be low-hanging and ubiquitous. The Valley is typically hot year-round, with high annual evaporation rates resulting in an arid to semi-arid climate.66 The highlands are altogether much wetter, supporting Afroalpine forest and forming one of Kenya’s main ‘water towers’.67 Small streams and springs are prevalent throughout these upper hills, whilst they are largely absent from the Escarpment slope and Valley floor. These latter regions are instead traversed by larger rivers, which have their upper catchments within the highland forest. Though mostly perennial, only the largest of these rivers, including the Embobut (see below), actually converge with the main Kerio River which runs northward along the centre of the Valley, their waters instead being diverted for irrigation purposes en route.68

  • 69 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 18.

16Such topographic and climatic variation supports great ecological diversity within a relatively small geographical region, though highly localised and unpredictable distributions in resource availability also mean this can be a very difficult place to inhabit. Local populations have thus adopted a diversity of livelihood practices and settlement strategies in their adaptive engagement with this landscape. For instance, agriculture in the Kerio Valley relies heavily on furrow-fed irrigation and shifting field systems, whilst highland fields tend to be rain-fed and more permanent. Sparser water resources in the Valley have also led to the development of larger, semi-clustered settlements encompassing several clans’ territories, whilst the upper Escarpment is characterised by the north–south imbrication of multiple clan territories encompassing a more-or-less continuous spread of dispersed settlement. Connections amongst these communities are both many and various, but the Marakwet maintain a linguistic separation between the three zones of Valley, Escarpment, and highlands.69 Keu hence denotes the flat plain of the Kerio Valley, whilst lagam refers to the slope of the Elgeyo Escarpment, both lower and upper parts. Mosop refers to the highlands beyond, though this particular term is more situationally variable than the other two, such that whilst people living in keu often speak of the Escarpment crest as mosop, those within the latter locale reserve the term for the yet-higher Cherangani Hills to the west (this paper adopts the latter usage).

Figure 2: Schematic cross-section showing the placement of Kacheseker within the Marakwet landscape division of keu—lagam—mosop

Figure 2: Schematic cross-section showing the placement of Kacheseker within the Marakwet landscape division of keu—lagam—mosop

Drawing: David K. Kay.

  • 70 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 12-13.
  • 71 B.E. Kipkorir, 1973, p. 73; G. Lynch, 2011, p. 35.
  • 72 G. Lynch, 2011.
  • 73 D. Branch, 2011.

17The Marakwet themselves comprise but one ethnic group within the wider ethno-linguistic conglomeration known as the Kalenjin—a set of related Southern Nilotic language group speakers broadly distributed throughout Kenya’s Great Rift Valley and Western Highlands.70 The ethnonym Kalenjin is itself a fairly recent phenomenon, now encompassing those communities more commonly referred to as ‘the Nandi-speaking peoples’ prior to the 1940s, Nandi being one of the largest such groups and the ‘type language’ to which close relatives such as Marakwet are typically compared. ‘Kalenjin’ means “I say to you” in Nandi—a distinctive opener for local radio broadcasts that was subsequently appropriated by politicians and other figures seeking to build a supra-tribal identity that cut across colonial ethnic delineations in the decades prior to Kenyan independence in 1963.71 This appropriation was highly successful, and by 1963 the ‘Kalenjin’ were both a self-identifying and nationally recognised ethno-political force.72 As a tribal grouping writ large they have played an integral role in the political life and governance of Kenya ever since.73 That said, the component ethnic groupings that together form the Kalenjin still retain their own dialects, cultural practices, and more specific political affiliations nested within their larger Kalenjin identity.

  • 74 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 13.
  • 75 C. Ehret, 1971; J.E.G. Sutton, 1973.
  • 76 J.E.G. Sutton, 1973, 1987, 1993.
  • 77 M. Bollig, 1990; M.I.J. Davies, 2008, 2012; D.K. Kay, 2021; S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018; S. Lunn-Rockli (...)

18The establishment of the various Kalenjin ethnic groups’ traditional territories extends back over several centuries—the product of a complex weave of migration, settlement, and ethnogenesis. The current consensus is that Southern Nilotic populations migrated into Kenya’s Western Highlands no less than a thousand years ago,74 where over time they developed the cultural-linguistic ‘package’ typical of proto-Kalenjin populations, including patrilineal clans, patrilocal residence, male and female circumcision, initiation into age-sets, and predominantly pastoral economies.75 This package was very much one of family resemblance, incorporating a great deal of variation across, and often within, its constituent communities. A similar situation is observed throughout the last millennium in the archaeological remains of the so-called Sirikwa tradition. Beginning in the early 12th century AD, the Sirikwa phenomenon spread across much of the Western Highlands and Central Rift Valley alongside a growth in iron-working technologies and mixed pastoral-arable economies.76 The cohesion of the tradition then seems to have expired a little over 200 years ago, most likely due to the short-lived but highly impactful expansion of Maa-speaking populations into the Rift Valley and Uasin Gishu plains in the 17th–18th centuries. These incursions are argued to have fragmented existing Sirikwa/proto-Kalenjin communities and initiated a complex series of small-scale migrations across the region, ultimately leading to the formation and present distribution of contemporary Kalenjin populations approximately 200–250 years ago.77

  • 78 B.E. Kipkorir, 1973; J.E.G. Sutton, 1973.
  • 79 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 10.
  • 80 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 56.
  • 81 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 10-11.
  • 82 H.L. Moore, 1986.
  • 83 B.E. Kipkorir, 1973; D.A Welbourn 1984.
  • 84 W. Östberg, 2004, 2014.
  • 85 R.C. Soper, 1983.

19The specific ethnonym ‘Marakwet’ arose from a colonial era corruption of ‘Markweta’, then employed by just one of the five sections comprising its present-day populace.78 The other four sections were the Almo, Endo, Kiptani, and Cherangani,79 though again it is perhaps wise to be somewhat sceptical of both the specificity and fixity of these terms given their reportage through the filter of the early colonial administration. The Cherangani provide a particularly difficult case in this regard, as not only is it also a geographical term applied to the Cherangani Hills, but there seems to be some ethnic overlap with the Sengwer, who though similar to the Marakwet in many ways speak a distinct dialect and have historically pursued a less agriculturally focussed way of life within the highland forests.80 Nevertheless, references to the Marakwet as a wider group become more common from the 1950s onwards.81 As with Kalenjin, ‘Marakwet’ has since become both a governmentally defined tribal grouping and a highly prevalent means of self-identification amongst those to whom it has been ascribed. Moore’s anthropological study of the Kerio Valley settlement of Sibou and adjoining market centre of Tot (aka Tot-Sibou) in the early 1980s82 has since been fundamental in establishing the Marakwet’s renown within academic circles, as have the broadly contemporaneous anthropological endeavours of Kipkorir and Welbourn,83 the slightly later research of Östberg,84 and even Soper’s early attempts to date their complex irrigation system.85 Such research demonstrates both the widespread valency of the Marakwet ethnonym and the continued centrality of locally grounded identities within community lifeways. Moore’s investigations in particular also established a strong precedent for the study of Marakwet settlement, and to which this paper is itself indebted.

Case study: Kacheseker

  • 86 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2019.

20Within the broader setting of eastern Marakwet, this paper takes as its specific case study the settlement of Kacheseker, perched upon the crest of the Elgeyo Escarpment at approximately 2400 masl within the area known locally as Embobut, and overlooking the Kerio Valley to the east. Kacheseker bridges the juncture between the dry upper slopes of lagam and the more verdant rolling plateau to the west, much of which lies within the official gazetted boundaries of the Embobut Forest, in which habitation is now legally forbidden.86 The modern-day settlement of Kacheseker, as with many of its neighbours, currently extends eastward from the tarmacked road bounding the Forest and over the Escarpment crest onto the upper slopes of lagam. Although no longer actively settled, the lowermost portions of its territory border the channel of the Embobut River as it flows down the Escarpment to the immediate north of Tot-Sibou and on to its confluence with the Kerio.

Figure 3: The view north and east from Embobut, looking across the crest of the Elgeyo Escarpment and towards the Kerio Valley in the distance

Figure 3: The view north and east from Embobut, looking across the crest of the Elgeyo Escarpment and towards the Kerio Valley in the distance

Photo: David K. Kay, May 2017.

  • 87 M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2014.
  • 88 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 25-29.

21Unlike the four clans which together comprise Sibou, the settlement of Kacheseker is coterminous with a single patrilineal clan of the same name, as is typical for Embobut. Likewise, individual-clan settlements within Embobut typically abut one another in a continuous spread extending along the length of the Escarpment, as opposed to the more nucleated multi-clan settlements of the Valley below. This distribution is enabled by the relatively plentiful and widespread availability of rain-fed water sources on the upper Escarpment, whereas in the Valley people must rely on the sparser occurrence of rivers and artificial irrigation channels. Similarly, whilst in settlements such as Tot-Sibou habitation tends to cluster close to the foot of the Escarpment slope and farmland to lie further into the Kerio floodplain,87 in Kacheseker both housing compounds and their attendant fields are spread throughout the clan’s total territory. Typically, these housing compounds are linearly arranged along the ridges of hill spurs, with different patrilineage-based kin groups occupying distinct ridges, divided by small streams and gullies or other natural features used to mark their respective territories.88 Steeply pitched fields extend across the slopes between and below these compounds, the majority of them now planted with some combination of maize, beans and/or potatoes.

Figure 4: A typical Escarpment-top view of Kacheseker’s settled landscape, with housing compounds situated along ridges and fields arranged on surrounding slopes

Figure 4: A typical Escarpment-top view of Kacheseker’s settled landscape, with housing compounds situated along ridges and fields arranged on surrounding slopes

Photo: David K. Kay, June 2017.

  • 89 J.W. Meyer, C.L. Crumley, 2011.

22Field research into the settlement history of Kacheseker was undertaken by myself from 2017–2020 as a part of my doctoral studies. Although the overarching project focussed on several different aspects of mobility in habitational practice, material engagement, and environmental processes (cf. Kay 2021), this paper focusses on the overarching trajectory and spatiotemporal development of Kacheseker’s inhabited zone since its foundation approximately 200 years ago. Within this temporal arc, I further focus on how present-day and recent oral historical data can be used to shed light on the settlement’s earlier history. In doing so, I draw particular inspiration from the mixed methodological approaches advocated by many historical-ecologists,89 in which different forms of data are used to compliment, support, and critique each other to enable a more holistic understanding of the subject in question. This paper thus combines data gleaned both from extensive archaeological and contemporary household/landscape surveys with a suit of oral historical testimonies recounted by Kacheseker’s current inhabitants.

Figure 5: Westward view from lagam, looking down the central ridgeline of Kipkemel, across Sagat hill and to the Kerio Valley beyond

Figure 5: Westward view from lagam, looking down the central ridgeline of Kipkemel, across Sagat hill and to the Kerio Valley beyond

Photo: David K. Kay, February 2018.

  • 90 D.K. Kay, 2021, Appendix 2.

23The majority of these interviews took place in June–July 2017 and February 2018 and involved 35 community members, most of them clan members and/or residents of Kacheseker itself. All interviews followed a semi-structured format, and were primarily conducted in English and KiMarakwet through the translation efforts of my friend and local collaborator, Mr Joseph Kimutai Cheptorus.90 These interviews all followed a broadly similar trajectory of talking through the interviewee’s personal life history, in addition to what else they knew of Kacheseker’s past, and their own aspirations for the future. They varied from well over an hour to barely 30 minutes long, depending on the interest of the interviewee and their other time commitments. I attempted to interview a broad spread of local community members, though the final corpus remains somewhat weighted towards conversations with older men. However, this situation does confer some benefits, as given the patrilocal nature of settlement in the region such men have lived within the village longer than anyone else. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that this demographic skew will entail its own biases, particularly regarding gender, which future research could do well to redress.

  • 91 D.K Kay, 2021, Appendix 3.

24Fieldwork similarly encompassed two distinct phases of landscape survey. The first entailed a comprehensive survey of all currently inhabited domestic compounds in July 2017. Kacheseker’s territorial boundaries were first established using an A0 size satellite image print-out of the area, whereby a group of community members gathered to debate where the boundaries lay and draw them in. Some of these boundaries, particularly those lying within the gazetted Embobut Forest, were later ground-truthed with the assistance of people who lived (or used to live) in that specific location. With the boundaries established, the inhabited portions of Kacheseker were then divided into sub-areas and every housing compound therein was mapped in-person using the GaiaGPS smartphone app. The type and number of physical structures within each compound was also recorded, alongside further information on when it was first built and the makeup of its resident household. A total of 231 housing compounds were recorded in this way, and the resulting data amalgamated using Microsoft Excel and ESRI ArcGIS to create a comprehensive geo-referenced database of all the occupied housing compounds within Kackeseker, complete with information on approximate dating, demography, and architectural composition.91

25A more opportunistic survey of abandoned housing platforms was also conducted throughout June–July 2017/2018 and February 2020. Some occurred alongside the contemporary household survey outlined above, during which any abandoned housing platforms we encountered were also recorded by GPS. Other areas of Kacheseker required more concerted effort to access and survey, particularly the now-uninhabited portions of the Escarpment slope and Forest conservation zone to the west, which were walked to a near total degree of coverage by myself in the company of local assistants, with the exception a small hillock separated by a deep gully lying at Kacheseker’s northernmost tip. Local residents stated a couple of very old platforms were still visible there, but otherwise I am confident that the GPS data presented below records the position of almost all other extant platforms within Kacheseker. Where possible, oral historical information was also gathered on who had lived at which site and when. Landscape features such as rock shelters and irrigation furrows were surveyed in like manner, whilst other locations of note (including commercial centres, schools, churches, etc.) were recorded on an ad hoc basis alongside other research activities. Lastly, a good deal of information and background knowledge was accrued from the many observations and conversations that took place throughout the course of these surveys and my own general wanderings across the landscape, which serve to contextualise the more formal elements of data collection.

Dating and chronologies

  • 92 M.I.J. Davies, 2008, 2012; M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016; D.K. Kay, 2021; S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018
  • 93 D.K. Kay, 2021, p. 359-364.

26Community origin stories across Marakwet often centre on tales of migration, socially rooted decision making, and a deep-felt engagement with the landscape.92 Kacheseker is no different, and though the details are often disputed, the settlement’s foundation is widely attributed to a man called Kipkembich who had fled up from the Kerio Valley after accidentally causing the death of his nephew. After a long, arduous journey he eventually encountered the elders of Kamoi clan (to the immediate north of present-day Kacheseker), who subsequently gifted him land and a wife. Following an act of incest with a relative of his new wife, Kipkembich’s offspring were then divided into the two clans of Kaptul and Kacheseker (the former now lying immediately south of the latter).93 The three clans of Kamoi, Kacheseker, and Kaptul thereafter retained a strong sense of their interlinked history and are still often referred to locally by the shared toponym of ‘Noiso’.

Figure 6: Map showing distribution of other clans surrounding Kacheseker

Figure 6: Map showing distribution of other clans surrounding Kacheseker

David K. Kay, 2020.

  • 94 B.E. Kipkorir, 1973, p. 9-11.
  • 95 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 58.

27Establishing the putative timing of these semi-mythic events will always be a matter of supposition. However, the Marakwet’s strong emphasis on the importance of patrilineal descent in establishing rights to land and resources, coupled with their system of age-sets, provides an additional means for establishing an approximate relative chronology encompassing Kacheseker’s origins and subsequent historical development. The cultural institution of age-sets is ubiquitous throughout Marakwet, as it is for the Kalenjin more broadly.94 Age-sets are essentially a system for ordering the separate initiation of male and female peers into named, generationally sequential groups. Traditionally at least, initiation involves a period of ritual seclusion and learning followed by a more public (and nowadays principally male only) circumcision ceremony, from which the initiates emerge as adults ready to fully enter social life, marry, and start families of their own. Initiations occur every few years, with all those initiated belonging to the same age-set, until such time as the elders agree that the set is closed and a new one should commence. Men retain this age-set name alongside their clan identity all their life, whereas women will typically become affiliated with both their husband’s clan and age-set upon marriage.95 It is therefore on male age-sets that the following discussion centres, given their geographical continuity and pre-eminence in community discourse.

28The most notable feature of age-sets from a chronometric perspective is that they comprise eight named sets that continually cycle from first to last. This sequence is as follows:

29Maina Chumo Sawe Korongoro Kaberur Kaplelach Kimyikeu Nyongi

  • 96 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 124; H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 57.

30The length of each age-set varies according to time and place, but on average they last for approximately 15 years, with the whole cycle taking 100–120 years to complete.96 The recollection of specific initiation years provides clear start and end dates for more recent age-sets, whilst intervals become more approximate further back in time. It is also notable that the certainty with which people speak of the age-set sequence rarely extends beyond its current cycle. Thus, whilst many interviewees counted back to the previous iteration of Nyongi, there was far less agreement as to the relative ordering of yet earlier age-sets. Present-day events also remind us that the system itself is liable to change. For instance, the most recent set of Nyongi has lasted far longer than is usual, as its supposed successor—Maina—was associated with terrible droughts in its previous incarnation. As age-sets are believed to repeat their key characteristics through time, so the elders were keen to avoid the recurrence of such hardship and delayed its onset for some time. It was agreed after the 2016 initiations that Nyongi should finally be ended, but as yet the community has still to decide whether the next set of initiates should be named Maina, or whether to skip onwards to Chumo in the hope of avoiding the recurrence of past misfortunes.

  • 97 Timothy Kipkeu Kipruto, pers. comm. June 2020.
  • 98 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018.
  • 99 H.L. Moore, 1986.
  • 100 M.I.J. Davies, 2009b.
  • 101 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 125.

31Even with such caveats, it is still possible to roughly correlate the dating of age-sets across the region. When community elders announce a set transition, they do so with respect to the concurrent discussions of elders in other nearby communities, so that the wider cultural institution remains more-or-less in sync with itself through time. This creates a kind of ripple effect, whereby the start of a new age-set typically first occurs in the south of the Kerio Valley, with communities further north progressively following suit.97 This contextual basis to local decision making maintains the integrity of inter-community male genealogical reckoning for the Marakwet themselves and enables the comparison of chronologies from across the immediate region (see Table 1). In this respect, my own assessments of age-set dates correlate almost exactly with those of Lunn-Rockliffe98—unsurprising given the Sengwer and Marakwet clans of Embobut typically initiate their youth together—whilst also aligning closely with Moore.99 The discrepancies with the Pokot dates reported by Davies100 are likewise unexceptional given their slight cultural and geographical remove, especially as the Pokot typically ‘follow’ the Marakwet sequence by a few years’ interval.101 The age-set system thus works well as a relatively fine-grained, albeit somewhat approximate, local chronology extending across the past 150 years.

  • 102 After M.I.J. Davies, 2009, Table B.1; S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, Table 4.1.

Table : Comparison of age-set chronologies within Embobut and surrounding area102

Author

H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 60

M.I.J. Davies, 2009b, p. 345

S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 124

D.K. Kay, 2021, Table 3.1

Group

Marakwet

Pokot

Sengwer/Marakwet

Marakwet

Location

Tot-Sibou

Wei Wei Valley

Embobut

Embobut

Length of age-set

14–16 years

12–13 years

14–17 years

13–17 years

Order and start dates of age-sets

Merkutwo
(1873)

Nyongi
(1870)

Nyonki
(1886)

Nyongi
(c. 1870)

Maina
(1885)

Maina
(1899)

Maina
(c. 1885)

Maina
(c. 1885)

Chumo
(1900)

Chumwo
(1912)

Chumo
(c.1900)

Chumo
(c.1900)

Sawe
(1916)

Sowo
(1925)

Sawe
(c. 1915)

Sawe
(c. 1915)

Korongoro
(1930)

Koronkoro
(1938)

Korongoro
(c. 1930)

Korongoro
(c. 1930)

Kaberur/Kipkoimet
(1946)

Kapkoymot
(1951)

Kaberur
(c. 1946/1947)

Kaberur
(c. 1946)

Kaplelach
(1961)

Kaplelach
(1964)

Kaplelach
(1961/1962)

Kaplelach
(1961)

Kimnygeu/ Murkütwo
(1975)

Murkütwo
(1978)

Kimyigeu
(c. 1980)

Kimyikeu
(1974)

Nyongi
(1991)

Nyongi
(1991)

Maina/Chumo
(2018)

Maina/Chumo
(2020)

  • 103 M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016, p. 73; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2014, p. 514.
  • 104 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 125-126.

32This chronology of age-sets becomes markedly hazier with time depth, such that genealogical reckoning at any further remove than the last three–four generations is highly ambiguous. This situation is largely due to the highly political nature of reckoning patrilineal descent, and the pre-eminence of particular male ancestors/patrilines within wider community discourse. The individual lineages recounted by Kacheseker men thus rarely accord with each other to any precise degree of exactitude. Nevertheless, it is still possible to use the age-set system to roughly gauge when Kipkembich’s sons Sakero and Kibarynir may have been initiated, and thus when Kacheseker itself may have been founded. Accordingly, though the identification of Sakero and Kibarynir’s age-sets varied greatly, most Kacheseker interviewees’ genealogies were in closer agreement regarding ancestors back to Chumo age-set. Counting back by approximate generation, I tentatively suggest that Sakero and Kibarnyir were initiated one, maybe two, age-sets before the last cycle of Nyongi (see Table 1). Their father Kipkembich (whether an actual historical figure or the mythologised version of a larger group migration) would thus have arrived in Embobut sometime around 1850, with Kamoi already having settled nearby perhaps a decade or so previously. Whilst imprecise, this dating of Kacheseker’s foundation to the mid-19th century fits the regional context—with the Marakwet settlement of the Kerio Valley occurring c. 250–300 years ago103 and the Sengwer clans of the highland Embobut Forest somewhat later during the mid- to late 19th century.104

Tracking shifting sedentism

33Local residents’ oral historical accounts of Kacheseker’s origins also agree that active settlement was initially restricted to the slopes of lagam, in what is now the north-easternmost portion of the clan’s territory, named Kasakero (‘the place of Sakero’). From thence onwards, settlement gradually expanded upslope towards the edge of the Embobut Forest along the Escarpment crest. Beginning in the 1960s, sustained deforestation then led to the rapid expansion of permanent habitation across the rolling plateau to the south and west, whilst the lower reaches of lagam became increasingly depopulated. Surveys of both inhabited and uninhabited housing platforms broadly confirm this general narrative, though the resultant data also reveal that its trajectory has been far from uniform and has encompassed many other multidirectional shifts, at both a community level and that of individual/household practice.

Figure 7: Map showing distribution of named areas within Kacheseker

Figure 7: Map showing distribution of named areas within Kacheseker

N.B. Kipkemel and Kisikirio are frequently used as blanket terms for their constituent sections of lagam

David K. Kay, 2020.

34Figures 8–9 offer a first glance at this general trajectory as it appears in the present day. First, although Figure 8 shows that abandoned housing platforms are scattered throughout the clan’s territory, comparison with Figure 9 reveals several areas where abandonment is far more common than contemporary settlement, and vice versa. For instance, the areas to the west of the main road (Embositat) and on the upper slopes of Kisikirio (Lemeiywo) are now completely uninhabited. The former was abandoned during the federal government’s forced eviction programme in 2013. As mentioned above, whilst livestock grazing still occurs within the official bounds of the Forest, both habitation and arable agriculture are now strictly prohibited. Conversely, Lemeiywo was abandoned in the 1990s after a series of violent clashes with the neighbouring clan of Kaptebego over rights to that land. In both cases, particular external factors played a significant role in instigating highly localised migrations, against the express desires of those who were forced to move.

Figure 8: Map showing distribution of abandoned house platforms within Kacheseker

Figure 8: Map showing distribution of abandoned house platforms within Kacheseker

David K. Kay, 2020.

35In addition to these specific incidents of en masse abandonment, Figure 10 reveals a marked contrast between the upper plateau and lagam. For the former, abandoned platforms are relatively sparse, whilst contemporary habitation clusters along the ridgelines flanking the many small streams that run towards the Escarpment crest. For the latter, abandoned and inhabited platforms are equally abundant, with both concentrated along the main ridges that run through the areas known as Kipkemel and Kisikirio. The lowermost slopes of Kipkemel (aka Kasakero) are commonly held to be where Kacheseker’s earliest settlers lived but are now completely abandoned. In contrast to Embositat or Lemeiywo, these abandonments are not the result of particular mass events but the residual trace of a far more incremental process. This interpretation is supported by the co-presence of both abandoned and inhabited platforms on the upper lagam, as well as the attestations of oral historical accounts (see below). This then appears to be the broad trajectory of settlement movement within Kacheseker—from downslope to up, north-east to south-west.

Figure 9: Map showing distribution of inhabited house platforms within Kacheseker

Figure 9: Map showing distribution of inhabited house platforms within Kacheseker

David K. Kay, 2020.

  • 105 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 91-99.

36Dating the pace of this shift in settlement is again challenging, though analysing survey data alongside oral historical information provides a good starting point. For instance, Figure 11 displays the age-set of the male head of every contemporary household in Kacheseker, revealing a clear preference for younger Nyongi men to live above the Escarpment crest, but less so for the preceding age-sets of Kimyikeu, Kaplelach, and Kaberur. However, present distributions do not necessarily reflect the past habitation locations of either specific individuals or age-sets as a whole, given the preponderance for individuals to move multiple times throughout their lifetime and/or reoccupy older platforms built by previous generations of their patrilineage (see below).105 Thus, Figure 12 displays the decade in which each currently inhabited compound was built. This sequence begins in the 1960s with compounds predominantly built by men of Kaberur or Kaplelach age-set and continues until the 2010s, by which point all four extant age-sets were actively involved in house building. These distributions again reveal a general trend of progressive movement upslope, though it is notable that the 2010s have also seen a significant revival of settlement on lagam (see further below). Figure 12 further highlights the high rate of pan-generational turnover in housing sites, showing that the bulk of Kacheseker’s contemporary house compounds were built within the last four decades, regardless of their present age-set affiliation.

Figure 10: Map showing distribution of house platforms relative to elevation within Kacheseker

Figure 10: Map showing distribution of house platforms relative to elevation within Kacheseker

David K. Kay, 2020.

37Accordingly, Figure 13 displays the age-set attributions of those abandoned platforms for which it was possible to obtain contextual oral historical information, comprising 43 of the total 110 recorded sites. As these attributions cannot be tallied with actual building dates, it is not possible to securely state whether or not a given platform was the only, or even the last, occupation site of the individual concerned. However, the data again demonstrate a proclivity for successive generations to move progressively farther upslope, in this case stretching right back to the beginning of the current age-set cycle. Indeed, these survey data form one of the few secure links with Kacheseker’s early history. To wit, it appears that no one lived above the Escarpment crest prior to the initiation of Korongoro age-set in c. 1930, and that even then the age-sets of Sawe, Chumo, and Maina favoured the lower slopes of both Kipkemel and Kisikirio. The one platform identified as belonging to the previous cycle of Nyongi—reportedly inhabited by Sakero’s son, Kiplelan—is also located in this lower area, and thus dates to around the turn of the 20th century. Nine abandoned platforms lie yet further downslope within the now-uninhabited area of Kasakero (cf. Figures 7 and 8), which though unattributed to specific ancestors are commonly held to pre-date the current age-set cycle.

Figure 11: Distribution of inhabited house platforms by age-set

Figure 11: Distribution of inhabited house platforms by age-set

David K. Kay, 2020.

Figure 12: Distribution of inhabited house platforms by decade initially built

Figure 12: Distribution of inhabited house platforms by decade initially built

David K. Kay, 2020.

Figure 13: Distribution of abandoned house platforms by age-set

Figure 13: Distribution of abandoned house platforms by age-set

David K. Kay, 2020.

38Kacheseker’s territorial boundaries further evidence a story of shifting landscape occupation by past clan members. Most obviously, the clan’s total territory is non-contiguous and, as Figure 6 shows, is interleaved with that of other clans, particularly Kamoi and Kaptul. The earliest territorial offshoot to occur was that of Kisikirio, in which settlers ‘leapfrogged’ intervening Kaptul territory to inhabit and farm then-uncleared land south of their prior homes in Kipkemel. The earliest known habitation site in Kisikirio belongs to the age-set of Maina (possibly as early as 1885; cf. Table 1), though this does not necessarily preclude yet earlier settlement. Why this initial offshoot occurred remains unknown, though men of Kaplelach who moved there when they were children state that Kisikirio was primarily populated by men of Korongoro and Kaberur age-sets who relocated as the clan’s population grew and Kipkemel became increasingly overcrowded. The growth of settlement in Kisikirio subsequently mirrored that of the main section of clan territory to the north and west, with housing shifting progressively upslope towards Lemeiywo before its later abandonment. The second isolated area of Kacheseker is that of Embositat, within what is now the formally gazetted Embobut Forest. Comprising a small hill surrounded by Kamoi and Kaptul land, it is connected to the main section of Kacheseker territory by the stream (embo) of Sitat, after which it is named. The precise reason for its isolation is again unknown, though it appears to have been initially settled more-or-less contemporaneously with other nearby parts of south-western Kacheseker before their abandonment during the 2013 evictions.

39The specific origins of these territorial discontinuities may remain obscure for the time being, but they attest to the general way in which Kacheseker’s bounds have developed over time, as defined by and in negotiation with the concurrent expansion of neighbouring communities. The clan-settlement’s boundaries as they stand today thus represent the current extent of a 200-year process that began in Kasakero and has entailed a broad trajectory of upslope movement ever since, with various smaller-scale complexities manifesting in the progressive settlement and/or abandonment of different locations. It is by further considering the oral histories related by Kacheseker’s residents that some of the principal drivers behind this broad trajectory—and its variances—come into greater focus.

Inhabiting a shifting settlement

  • 106 H.L. Moore, 1986.
  • 107 M.I.J. Davies 2009, 2013a.

40At a fundamental level, the manner in which patrilineal descent and land inheritance typically function amongst Marakwet communities itself encourages the gradual expansion of settled/farmed areas within—and even beyond—a given clan’s territory. As recounted in detail by Moore106 (and amongst the nearby Pokot by Davies),107 the division of land by fathers amongst their sons will necessarily involve a decrease in the size of each generation’s individual landholdings. As such, new land must be cleared and made agriculturally viable if sequentially proliferating households within the patriline are to maintain a sustainable level of self-sufficiency with regards to food production. Moreover, the spatially expansive drive of this general trend is exacerbated in environments where arable land requires fallowing to retain its overall productivity, and in which populations are themselves increasing over time.

  • 108 D.K. Kay, 2021, p. 84-85; S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 162-165.

41Both these situations pertained to Kacheseker during the 1950s, when settlement was largely restricted to the dry slopes of lagam lying below the upper crest of the Elgeyo Escarpment. Households then cultivated sorghum, millet, and local maize landraces (known as kipengara and kisim) in rotational plots close to their houses and grazed small numbers of livestock (predominantly sheep and goats) along the edge of the Embobut Forest, which then ran along the line of the Escarpment crest. Whilst this forested landscape to the west was deeply important for both individual and community lifeways,108 from the early 1960s onwards increasing numbers of young men from the age-set of Kaplelach began to move upslope to clear the trees for new arable fields. In part, these clearances simply marked the continuation of the gradual westward drift of settlement that had characterised Kacheseker since its foundation in the late 19th century. However, today’s elders are keen to point out that a second major factor was the local arrival of chebolos maize in the years around Kenyan independence in 1963. Chebolos was a much more productive variety of maize than kisim and kipengara, but unlike the latter it did not grow well on the arid slopes of lagam. However, the rain-fed lands to the west of the Escarpment crest were ideal, especially in combination with rich former-forest soils that did not require extensive fallow periods to remain productive over multiple seasons. The young men of Kaplelach thus applied themselves with great effort to expanding this nascent agricultural landscape upslope of their childhood homes, first as dispersed individual plots and then increasingly as an extension of the spatial land-use pattern evident on lagam, whereby dispersed domestic compounds were surrounded by larger attendant field systems.

  • 109 E.g. J.S. Dean, 1996; M.E. Moseley, 1972; A.M. Prentiss et al., 2014; A.H. Sirén, 2007.
  • 110 D.K. Kay, 2021, p. 88.
  • 111 D.K. Kay, 2021, p. 87.

42In contrast to many models of subsistence-supported demographic expansion,109 members of the Kaplelach generation attest that the primary incentive for expanding chebolos cultivation at the expense of preserving existing forest resources was to increase social capital, rather than to achieve greater food security per se. In particular, increased maize cultivation enabled the fuelling of ever-larger ceremonial feasts, especially during the culturally important marriage ceremony of tum, in which the ability to produce large quantities of food and alcohol greatly elevated the social standing of the hosts.110 Indeed, it is often said that amongst the men of Kaplalach there were none who were not married and that so much maize was being made into beer (busaa) that large-scale ceremonies became frequent affairs across the whole region of Embobut. Accordingly, it was the appeal of cultivating chebolos within an existing mode of significant cultural production that underpinned the south-westward expansion of agricultural land within Kacheseker throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. That said, the effects of concurrently greater subsistence capabilities cannot be discounted. Whilst population growth is extremely hard to quantify in this region,111 the uphill expansion of Kaplelach is locally reported as marking the beginning of a period of sustained demographic expansion that continues to this day.

43When the first Christian missionaries became resident in Embobut in 1974, they thus encountered an expanding world of upland settlement, whilst the numbers of people living on lagam were concurrently dwindling. As such, the Catholic missionary Fr Reinhardt Bottner—shortly followed by representatives of the Africa Inland Church—concentrated his proselytising efforts within this upper settled area and in the process sponsored many infrastructural developments which further increased its attractiveness for permanent habitation. The most impactful of these developments was arguably the construction of the now-tarmacked road that links Embobout to the Escarpment-crest regional centres of Chesoi and Kapsowar to the south. This road connected Kacheseker and its neighbours to an increasingly mobile social and economic network that spanned the Marakwet highlands, bearing with it a plethora of new foodstuffs, industrially produced goods, and interpersonal relations. Both the missions and subsequent governmental bodies also sponsored the local introduction of modern hybrid maize varieties, beans and potatoes throughout the 1970s–1990s, as well as founding local health centres and schools. Moreover, the missions were particularly instrumental in financing the creation of the first small commercial centres, which rapidly proliferated along the Escarpment-top roadway.

Figure 14: View of the monthly market at the roadside commercial centre of Sitat, situated on the south-western edge of Kacheseker

Figure 14: View of the monthly market at the roadside commercial centre of Sitat, situated on the south-western edge of Kacheseker

Photo: D. Kay, February 2018.

44All of these developments greatly increased the draw of settlement and general economic activity (agricultural and otherwise) to the upper portions of Kacheseker, and indeed continue to do so to this day. It would seem simple to argue that this recent history epitomises the kind of external prime-mover models of historical change critiqued in the introduction to this paper. However, it must be remembered that the arrival of missionaries and other outside agents into the western, highland-oriented area of Embobut was itself predicated upon an upslope demographic shift that was already well established amongst local communities, Kacheseker included. As such, their subsequent activities did not exogenously establish the shift of settlement from lagam to Escarpment-top across the latter half of the 20th century, but rather engaged with a pre-existing endogenous pattern of cross-generational shifting sedentism to which local residents were entirely accustomed in the pursuit of their own livelihoods.

  • 112 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2019.

45Kacheseker’s recent settlement history also exemplifies how contemporary patterns of residential mobility continue to integrate long-standing practices of land-use within the development of new trajectories. As mentioned above, both the conflict of Kacheseker and Kaptebego over Lemeiywo and the federal government’s forcible removals from the gazetted Embobut Forest have resulted in a revival of settlement across the upper slopes of lagam. In both cases, many of those who have moved back to lagam have done so due to a lack of other viable alternatives. However, their actions still directly draw on the long-standing principles of patrilineal inheritance and communal land ownership which have underwritten the changing land-use of Kacheseker’s overarching territory throughout its history. Furthermore, the expulsion of permanent settlement from within the Forest boundaries has transformed its formerly inhabited arable landscapes into ones characterised by wide grassy meadows separating patches of thicker tree cover. These grasslands have in turn opened up new possibilities for the pasturage of expanding livestock herds, including a marked increase in the number of cattle relative to sheep and goats. As explored in detail by Lunn-Rockliffe,112 whilst many local livelihoods were unquestionably disrupted, if not outright destroyed, by the 2013 evictions, Kacheseker and the adjoining communities of Noiso nevertheless continue to enfold the new ecological affordances of the Forest within their creative and constantly shifting lifeways.

Figure 15: View across the now-uninhabited Embobut Forest to the west of Kacheseker

Figure 15: View across the now-uninhabited Embobut Forest to the west of Kacheseker

Note the cord rig still evident from prior cultivation on the right-hand slope.

Photo: D. Kay, July 2017.

46There is a great deal more that could be said on the many variations of these shifting lifeways that have occurred within the living memory of Kacheseker’s current inhabitants, as is hoped will form the basis of future publications. For now, it is sufficient to conclude that the oral histories that cumulatively underpin the narrative recounted above are very much in accord with the previously discussed survey evidence, insofar as they ably highlight the importance of residential mobility within Kacheseker’s broader historical development, both in the case of individual households and as a cross-generational habitational phenomenon. Furthermore, they demonstrate how this shifting pattern of settlement is rooted in long-running traditions of both individual and wider cultural practice that continually and creatively engage with diverse other factors, regardless of whether or not those factors may be exogenously derived.

Discussion

47This paper has demonstrated that even within relatively constrained spatiotemporal parameters, it is movement that has underwritten the otherwise sedentary development of Marakwet settlement patterns. In the case of Kacheseker, the distribution of active settlement within the clan’s territorial boundaries has thus undergone significant shifts over time. Writ large, these shifts can be characterised as a gradual expansion and translocation of settlement from the lower slopes of lagam to the hilly upland plateau to the west. However, this broader trajectory has encompassed many more complex and multidirectional forms of mobility, spanning both Kacheseker’s built environment and wider landscape. This complex history has itself unfolded through the active agency of the settlement’s inhabitants, as enacted throughout the course of their daily lives and reiterated across the generations of their shared community.

48Significantly, I have argued that the residential mobility and flexibility of land-use practice exhibited by Kacheseker’s inhabitants since the 1960s is firmly rooted in collective lifeways that stretch back to the settlement’s initial founding in the mid-19th century. As previously discussed, gauging the precise spatiotemporal details of Kacheseker’s earlier history is an extremely difficult exercise. However, both archaeological survey and oral historical sources suggest that processes of shifting sedentism and changing landscape practices extend from the settlement’s foundation right through to the present day. In this regard, more recent changes in Marakwet settlement should not be seen as discontinuous from earlier histories, but as novel variations on a long-running theme of habitational flexibility. In other words, whilst the landscape of Kacheseker is today undeniably very different from that of a hundred, or even fifty years ago, the underlying principles of sedentary mobility and adaptive habitational practice span its entire history—in stark contrast to the oversimplified models of rural African settlement critiqued in the introduction to this paper.

  • 113 M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2014; S.F. Derbyshire et al., 2020; S. Lunn- (...)

49As discussed above, the theoretical and methodological tenets of historical ecology are particularly well suited to countering such models, particularly through approaches that investigate the ‘resilience’ of diverse systems and fields of action. The ‘shifting sedentism’ of Marakwet habitational practices offers an exemplary case study in this regard, as it is their in-built flexibility and capacity for adaptive change that have most keenly contributed to the long-term continuity of the community at large (as is likewise evident across diverse other aspects of Marakwet social and environmental history).113 Historical analysis has shown that mobility has long been key to this resilient flexibility, and a principal means by which diverse social, ecological, and material phenomena have coalesced within complex systems of interaction, in which settlement has always occupied a place of relative flux. Accordingly, mobility of settlement can be seen as a near constant within Kacheseker’s overarching history, even though the precise direction and form of that mobility has never been linearly constrained. Instead, historical changes in settlement location and material expression have arisen through the cumulative habitational practices of Kacheseker’s constituent households over the course of many generations—practices that have always been realised in creative tension with the various affordances of the surroundings in which they are immersed, be they material, biotic, socio-cultural, or more intimately personal.

50In this sense, this investigation of Kacheseker’s settlement history constitutes much more than a straightforward exercise in the use of contemporary ethnographic material to interpret archaeological evidence of past events and processes. Instead, it promotes a more nuanced analysis of the complex trajectories that extend through past and present, in an effort to bridge the interpretive divide often drawn between ‘modern’ and ‘pre-modern’ African settlement systems. Accordingly, the detailed study of Kacheseker’s recent past alongside its earlier history enables us to highlight the continued relevance of that history for the settlement’s contemporary community, in which the complex trajectories of habitational mobility and household practice observed in the present are not novel outcomes of events restricted to the later 20th century, but historically durative tendencies that reach back to at least the 1850s. Moreover, it is the durable but highly adaptive character of these tendencies which has enabled multiple generations of Marakwet to shape their home—agentively melding tradition and innovation whilst incorporating diverse extrinsic phenomena within their own quotidian lifeways. It is clear that to view such communities’ 20th-century histories as somehow divorced from earlier periods, or conversely to use such histories only to inform our interpretation of more distant temporal contexts, is largely to miss the potential of such cross-disciplinary endeavours.

  • 114 D.M. Anderson, 1988; O.J.C. Boles et al., 2019; P. Lane, 2009; P.D. Little et al., 2008.
  • 115 E.g. M. Graham, 1994; E.E. Jones, J.W. Wood, 2012.

51In this vein, future inquiries into the diverse history of shifting sedentary settlement systems across the African continent would do well to emulate the interpretive strides already made in the study of mobile practices amongst predominantly pastoralist populations.114 As with these prior studies, it is the detailed investigation of specific contexts, combined with their subsequent comparative analysis, that will enable us to move beyond purely axiomatic considerations of mobility and habitational movement within otherwise sedentary communities. Doing so would also place African and Africanist scholars in an excellent position to contribute to global discussions regarding the spatiotemporal diversity of flexible land-use practices and (semi-)itinerant lifeways—for instance as similarly noted amongst both historical and contemporary ‘mobile farmers’ in North America.115

  • 116 C.M. Cameron, S.A. Tomka, 1993.
  • 117 M. Lamoureux-St-Hilaire, S. Macrae, 2020a.
  • 118 M. Lamoureux-St-Hilaire, S. Macrae, 2020b, p. 4.
  • 119 See particularly C.M. Cameron, 2020; P.A. McAnany, M. Lamoureux-St-Hilaire, 2020.

52From a specifically archaeological perspective, questions of site (and even wider landscape) abandonment often continue to be approached along somewhat simplistic lines, despite multiple authors having long pointed out that the processes involved are invariably complex and highly context-specific.116 More recent research has reiterated these points, particularly that collated by Lamoureux-St-Hilaire and Macrae117 in their treatment of settlement abandonment as a process of ‘detachment from place’, in which material objects, social relations, environmental factors, and personal emotions all interact within complex systems of settlement and landscape transformation. By regarding “the conundrum of sedentism” as largely an “historical illusion”,118 they instead focus in on the cross-scalar histories of constant—and often recursive—movement that pattern all human experiences of ‘place-making’, and concomitantly of place ‘unmaking’.119 Whilst the patterns of shifting sedentism that form the focus of this paper are perhaps not directly tied to the phenomenon of wholesale settlement abandonment, they too demonstrate that practices of habitual mobility are integral features of what, from a single point in time, we might otherwise regard as a ‘sedentary’ community. Likewise, such mobility necessarily encompasses highly complex trajectories of abandonment, re-occupation, and changing land-use within its overarching, fluid history, and it is this fluidity which is itself so crucial to the realisation of continuity through change.

  • 120 Sensu S. MacEachern, 2016; M.C. Beaudry, T.G. Parno, 2013; J. Leary, 2014.

53It is this agentive tension which has commonly been neglected in the portrayal of rural agrarian communities across sub-Saharan Africa, much as the mobile practices that embody it have often fallen below the scope of archaeological enquiry. By instead foregrounding mobility as a central element in the interweaving of diverse strands of evidence concerning past settlement change,120 this paper hopes to have demonstrated that we can productively work towards recentring these communities’ intrinsic historical agency—the same agency with which they move into their futures.

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Notes

1 D. Grossman, D. Siddle, 1998; F.R. Kaloko, 1983; M. Silberfein, 1998a; R.K. Udo, 1966.

2 United Nations, 2019.

3 AGRA, 2019.

4 C.S. van der Waal, 1991.

5 D.F. Bryceson, 1996, p. 107.

6 J.O.C. Onyemelukwe, 1980; P.S. Robinson, 2003; C. Southey, 1982; A. Todes, 2001.

7 M. Mashiri et al., 2008; A. Zvoleff et al., 2009.

8 E.C. Green, R.B. Isely, 1988; O. Oki et al., 2015; G. Porter, 2002.

9 Cf. G.A. Myers, 1999.

10 I.A. Adalemo, 1967; A. Arecchi, 1984; R.B. Dakayne, 1962; N. Georgulas, 1967; D. Grossman, 1971; M.A. Hirst, 1970; F.R. Kaloko, 1983; J. McKay, 1968; B. Reynolds, 1972; P.J.A. Rigby, 1962; M. Silberfein, 1973, 1998b, 1998c; R.M.K. Silitshena, 1983; R.K. Udo, 1965, 1966.

11 C.Z. Ashley et al., 2016; A. Ogundiran, 2016.

12 O.J.C. Boles et al., 2019.

13 P. Lane, 2009.

14 P.J. Lane, 2016.

15 O.J.C. Boles, P.J. Lane, 2016.

16 E.g. N. Arazi, 1999; J. Fleisher, 2001, 2014; A.F.C. Holl, 1996; N. Khalaf et al., 2019; K.C. MacDonald, 1996; M. Manyanga, 2003; P. Mitchell, 1996; G. Pwiti, 1996; C.G. Sampson, 1996; P. Schmidt, 1997; A.A. Usman, 2000.

17 M.E. Clark, 2003; H. Haskell et al., 1988; R.J. McIntosh, 2005; R.J. McIntosh, S.K. McIntosh, 2003.

18 J. Fleisher, 2014; J. Fleisher, F. Sulas, 2015; F. Sulas et al., 2017; S. Wynne-Jones, 2007.

19 A. Antonites, 2014; A. Antonites, C.Z. Ashley, 2016; A. LaViolette, J. Fleisher, 2005, p. 336-339.

20 I. Kopytoff, 1987.

21 See also J.M. Hunter, 1971.

22 A.E. Nyerges, 1992.

23 A.E. Nyerges, 1992, p. 872-873.

24 P.W. van Arsdale, 1992.

25 D. Turton, 1988, 1996.

26 F.P. Conant, 1965; M.I.J. Davies, 2009, 2013a, 2014; M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016.

27 S. Canós Donnay, 2016.

28 S. Canós Donnay, 2016, p. 467.

29 See also F.P. Conant, 1962.

30 S. Canós Donnay, 2016, p. 465-466.

31 W. Balée, 1998; C.L. Crumley, 1994.

32 C.L. Crumley, 2018.

33 W. Balée, 2006, p. 77-79; C.L. Crumley, 2018.

34 C.L. Crumley, 2019, p. 10-13.

35 C.L. Crumley, 2019, p. 10; W. Balée, 2006, p. 78.

36 P. Sinclair et al., 2018, p. 21-25.

37 C.L. Crumley, 2019, p. 10-11; M.I.J. Davies, 2013b, p. 23; P. Sinclair et al., 2018, p. 25-26.

38 W. Balée, 2006, p. 83.

39 C.L. Crumley, 1995, 2005.

40 W.S. McCulloch, 1945.

41 C.L. Crumley, 1995, p. 3.

42 Sensu A. Giddens, 1984.

43 W.E. Doolittle, 1984, 2019.

44 L.S. Cordell, F. Plog, 1979; M.I.J. Davies, 2014.

45 T. Ingold, 1993, 2000.

46 W.E. Doolittle, 2019.

47 M.I.J. Davies, 2013a.

48 C.L. Redman, 2005.

49 E.g. C.L. Crumley et al., 2018; M.K. Nelson, D. Shilling, 2018.

50 M.I.J. Davies, 2012; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2016; P.J. Lane, 2010; A.L. Logan et al., 2019; D. Stump 2010, 2013, 2019.

51 AAREA, 2018.

52 E. Boserup 1981.

53 A.L. Logan et al., 2019, p. 423.

54 C. Ferro Vázquez et al., 2017; T.K. Kabora et al., 2020; C. Lang, D. Stump, 2017; D. Stump, 2006; S. Thornton-Barnett 2015, 2019.

55 African Farming Research Network, n.d.; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2016.

56 M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2014; see also M.I.J. Davies, 2009, 2013a, 2014 for further discussion of neighbouring Pokot communities.

57 M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016, p. 82.

58 M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2014; H.L. Moore, 1986.

59 Kenya Forest Service, 2015; H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 21.

60 R.M. Shackleton, 1951, p. 346.

61 P. Mason, A.B. Gibson, 1957, p. 7.

62 C. French, 2015; P. Mason, A.B. Gibson, 1957.

63 T. Dietz et al., 1987, p. 16-20.

64 Kenya Forest Service, 2015, p. 4.

65 Joseph Kimutai Cheptorus, pers. comm. November 2020.

66 T. Dietz et al., 1987, p. 16, 19.

67 Kenya Forest Service, 2015; S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 73.

68 P. Mason, A.B. Gibson, 1957, p. 8.

69 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 18.

70 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 12-13.

71 B.E. Kipkorir, 1973, p. 73; G. Lynch, 2011, p. 35.

72 G. Lynch, 2011.

73 D. Branch, 2011.

74 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 13.

75 C. Ehret, 1971; J.E.G. Sutton, 1973.

76 J.E.G. Sutton, 1973, 1987, 1993.

77 M. Bollig, 1990; M.I.J. Davies, 2008, 2012; D.K. Kay, 2021; S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018; S. Lunn-Rockliffe, D.K. Kay, 2020; J.E.G. Sutton, 1973.

78 B.E. Kipkorir, 1973; J.E.G. Sutton, 1973.

79 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 10.

80 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 56.

81 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 10-11.

82 H.L. Moore, 1986.

83 B.E. Kipkorir, 1973; D.A Welbourn 1984.

84 W. Östberg, 2004, 2014.

85 R.C. Soper, 1983.

86 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2019.

87 M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2014.

88 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 25-29.

89 J.W. Meyer, C.L. Crumley, 2011.

90 D.K. Kay, 2021, Appendix 2.

91 D.K Kay, 2021, Appendix 3.

92 M.I.J. Davies, 2008, 2012; M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016; D.K. Kay, 2021; S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018.

93 D.K. Kay, 2021, p. 359-364.

94 B.E. Kipkorir, 1973, p. 9-11.

95 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 58.

96 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 124; H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 57.

97 Timothy Kipkeu Kipruto, pers. comm. June 2020.

98 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018.

99 H.L. Moore, 1986.

100 M.I.J. Davies, 2009b.

101 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 125.

102 After M.I.J. Davies, 2009, Table B.1; S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, Table 4.1.

103 M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016, p. 73; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2014, p. 514.

104 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 125-126.

105 H.L. Moore, 1986, p. 91-99.

106 H.L. Moore, 1986.

107 M.I.J. Davies 2009, 2013a.

108 D.K. Kay, 2021, p. 84-85; S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2018, p. 162-165.

109 E.g. J.S. Dean, 1996; M.E. Moseley, 1972; A.M. Prentiss et al., 2014; A.H. Sirén, 2007.

110 D.K. Kay, 2021, p. 88.

111 D.K. Kay, 2021, p. 87.

112 S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2019.

113 M.I.J. Davies, H.L. Moore, 2016; M.I.J. Davies et al., 2014; S.F. Derbyshire et al., 2020; S. Lunn-Rockliffe, 2019; G. Pollard et al., 2015.

114 D.M. Anderson, 1988; O.J.C. Boles et al., 2019; P. Lane, 2009; P.D. Little et al., 2008.

115 E.g. M. Graham, 1994; E.E. Jones, J.W. Wood, 2012.

116 C.M. Cameron, S.A. Tomka, 1993.

117 M. Lamoureux-St-Hilaire, S. Macrae, 2020a.

118 M. Lamoureux-St-Hilaire, S. Macrae, 2020b, p. 4.

119 See particularly C.M. Cameron, 2020; P.A. McAnany, M. Lamoureux-St-Hilaire, 2020.

120 Sensu S. MacEachern, 2016; M.C. Beaudry, T.G. Parno, 2013; J. Leary, 2014.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure1: Map showing location of Kacheseker and other key settlements in the region of Marakwet
Crédits David K. Kay, 2020.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 801k
Titre Figure 2: Schematic cross-section showing the placement of Kacheseker within the Marakwet landscape division of keu—lagam—mosop
Crédits Drawing: David K. Kay.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 46k
Titre Figure 3: The view north and east from Embobut, looking across the crest of the Elgeyo Escarpment and towards the Kerio Valley in the distance
Crédits Photo: David K. Kay, May 2017.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 632k
Titre Figure 4: A typical Escarpment-top view of Kacheseker’s settled landscape, with housing compounds situated along ridges and fields arranged on surrounding slopes
Crédits Photo: David K. Kay, June 2017.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-4.png
Fichier image/png, 1,0M
Titre Figure 5: Westward view from lagam, looking down the central ridgeline of Kipkemel, across Sagat hill and to the Kerio Valley beyond
Crédits Photo: David K. Kay, February 2018.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-5.png
Fichier image/png, 968k
Titre Figure 6: Map showing distribution of other clans surrounding Kacheseker
Crédits David K. Kay, 2020.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 539k
Titre Figure 7: Map showing distribution of named areas within Kacheseker
Légende N.B. Kipkemel and Kisikirio are frequently used as blanket terms for their constituent sections of lagam
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 546k
Titre Figure 8: Map showing distribution of abandoned house platforms within Kacheseker
Crédits David K. Kay, 2020.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 540k
Titre Figure 9: Map showing distribution of inhabited house platforms within Kacheseker
Crédits David K. Kay, 2020.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 546k
Titre Figure 10: Map showing distribution of house platforms relative to elevation within Kacheseker
Crédits David K. Kay, 2020.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 249k
Titre Figure 11: Distribution of inhabited house platforms by age-set
Crédits David K. Kay, 2020.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-11.png
Fichier image/png, 81k
Titre Figure 12: Distribution of inhabited house platforms by decade initially built
Crédits David K. Kay, 2020.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-12.png
Fichier image/png, 126k
Titre Figure 13: Distribution of abandoned house platforms by age-set
Crédits David K. Kay, 2020.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-13.png
Fichier image/png, 139k
Titre Figure 14: View of the monthly market at the roadside commercial centre of Sitat, situated on the south-western edge of Kacheseker
Crédits Photo: D. Kay, February 2018.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 372k
Titre Figure 15: View across the now-uninhabited Embobut Forest to the west of Kacheseker
Légende Note the cord rig still evident from prior cultivation on the right-hand slope.
Crédits Photo: D. Kay, July 2017.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/docannexe/image/4013/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 264k
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David K. Kay, « Mobile sedentism? The Marakwet settlements of the Elgeyo Escarpment, north-western Kenya »Afriques [En ligne], 14 | 2023, mis en ligne le 27 janvier 2024, consulté le 14 avril 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/4013 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/afriques.4013

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David K. Kay

Doctor, Oxford Archaeology Ltd and British Institute in Eastern Africa

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