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  Historical and Current Facts about The Sabaots

              The Sabaot tribe is one of the nine sub-tribes of the Kalenjin tribe. The other eight tribes are: Sengwer, Tugen, Terik, Keiyo, Kipsigis, Pokot, Marakwet and Nandi who live in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya. The Sabaots are the authentic Kalenjin tribe commonly referred as "Kapkugo" by the other Kalenjin sub-tribes. Sabaot tribe is comprised of six sub-dialects namely: The Pok, somek, Mosop, Kony, Bong'omek and Sabiny(Sebei). The Sabaot community has been subdivided into smaller segments who live in diverse regions due to factors such as British colonization, migration and political influence by dominant neighboring communities, tribes and governments.

                              SABAOT CLANS
[It includes clans from both Kenya and Uganda [
areet (singular) or arosiok (Plural)]

Note: The 85 clan names below are listed in alphabetical order. We welcome your feedback or any corrections by sending us email to and we will respond ASAP.

1)      Kaabai 

2)      Kaapiit 

3)      Kaboorek 

4)      Kamaek 

5)      Kamakameek 

6)      Kamakorotok 

7)      Kamaranga 

8)      Kamaratiek 

9)      Kamelgut 

10)   Kamingirok 

11)   Kamonge 

12)   Kamuguniek 

13)   Kamukayeek 

14)   Kamukeek 

15)   Kamusareek

16)   Kamweng'eek 

17)   Kapbateek 

18)   Kapbungar

19)   Kapbunwa 

20)   Kapchayek

21)   kapchaanek 

22)   Kapchagor 

23)   Kapchebasa 

24)   Kapcheboek 

25)   Kapcheebooyoo 

26)   Kapchemagige 

27)   Kapchemandan  

28)   Kapchemai 

29)   Kapchemekwen 

30)   Kapchenomor 

31)   Kapchepchui 

32)   Kapchepmeson 

33)   Kapchepokot 

34)   Kapcheromor 

35)   Kapcherotich 

36)   Kapcherotik 

37)   Kapchesokwo 

38)   Kapchesonek 

39)   Kapchesongol 

40)   Kapchogen 

41)   Kapchorwa 

42)   Kapjeepayeek 

43)   Kapjoombis 

44)   Kapkamafit 

45)   Kapkeben 

46)   Kapkecha 

47)   Kapman 

48)   Kapmaranga 

49)   Kapming'eny' 

50)   Kapmuegek 

51)   Kapmuguniek 

52)   Kapmurondokek 

53)   Kapnakambiik 

54)   Kapnamuringik 

55)   Kapnamwareek 

56)   Kapnimek 

57)   Kapnyirirek 

58)   Kapnyitok 

59)   Kaprangacheek 

60)   Kaprobak or kapcherop 

61)  Kapsakya 

61)   Kapsang'utok 

62)   Kapserek 

63)   kapsewiyek 

64)   kapsoortiek 

65)   Kapsoot 

66)   Kapsorit 

67)   Kapsoshyo 

68)   Kapsowuiek 

69)   Kapsurum 

70)   Kaptamachik 

71)   Kaptayek 

72)   Kaptebaak 

73)   Kaptebenik 

74)   Kapter 

75)   Kaptipai 

76)   Kaptirng'ek 

77)   Kaptobosweek 

78)   Kaptomaateek 

79)   Kaptoyoi 

80)   Kaptulak 

81)   Kaptuneek 

82)   kapungaek 

83)   Kapunjosok 

84)   Kapyuseek 

85)   Sowosik 

              The Sabaot people live on or near the slopes of Mount Elgon. The hills of their homeland gradually rise from an elevation of 5,000 to 14,000 feet. The area is crisscrossed by numerous mountain streams and spectacular waterfalls. Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano about fifty (50) miles in diameter. The Kenya-Uganda border goes straight through the mountain-top, cutting the Sabaot homeland into two halves. The main land formation in the region is geographically influenced by the Mt. Elgon which slopes gently through the area with a terrain that rises from 1,800m above sea level to about 4310m. Rainfall and temperatures are greatly influenced by the mountain. The rainfall received in the region ranges from 1,400mm to over 1,800mm per annum and is fairly distributed in the region. The temperature varies between 14oC and 24oC.

 In recent years, the Sabaot people have been forced to drastically change their lifestyle from cattle herding to planting maize (corn) and vegetables because of the scarcity of land. Economically this change was good for the people, because the frequent hunger spells have all but stopped. Socially it has been a hard and traumatic change as the former leaders in the society lost their power, old values were eroded, and drinking homemade beer grew to a destructive level. The Sabaot people are proud of their cultural heritage. The elders sing with sadness in their voices, using their six-stringed lyre, about the lost glory of their free life as warriors and cattle people. They remember their best cows by name. The Sabaot do not adapt to change quickly, but most of the children now go to school. That is why the majority of adults have never learned to read. The young, educated people have become the new elite.

     Traditionally the Sabaot have always believed in a Creator God. He was good and provided sunshine, rain and life, but he was far away. It was the belief in the ancestral spirits that controlled the daily life of the people and brought them fortune or, more often, misfortune. If sickness struck, sacrifices had to be made to appease the angry ancestor who sent the sickness to avenge some wrongdoing against him.

     Mt. Elgon Region has had a long and bumpy history. The original inhabitants of the region are the Sabaots who are a Nilotic group and a sub-tribe of the Kalenjin tribe. Before colonization the Sabaots who were pastoralist roamed the whole of the Trans Nzoia and Mt. Elgon region. At the onset of colonialism their land was alienated by the white settlers and they were expelled and dispersed to Uganda, Pokot, Maasailand and Tanzania. This dispersion deprived the Sabaot community off their only form of livelihood- pastoralism.

     During the colonial era, other communities began to move into Trans Nzoia to work in the white farms notably the Bukusu community. When Kenyan attained her independence from colonial rule in 1963 many of the communities squatting in white farms bought land in Trans Nzoia and the many land settlement schemes initiated in the region did not take into account the indigenous land rights of the Sabaot community. Therefore when the Sabaot began coming back from forced exile they found their land occupied leading to landlesness to majority of their population. In the meanwhile many Sabaot people had settled on the upper region of Mt. Elgon.

      The conflict in Mt. Elgon is directly related to the greater issues of land policy in Kenya that has left many indigenous people landless and marginalized and has played an important role in ethno-political conflicts experienced in the country and in particular the greater Trans-Nzoia region where Mt Elgon is situated. Despite repeated attempts to achieve peace in Mt. Elgon, a final conclusive and sustainable resolution of the conflict is yet to be reached.

      There have been various violent conflicts in Mt Elgon. Conflicts were witnessed in 1963, 1975, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997 and the recent one in 2007. While this recent conflict in Mt. Elgon was related to and intensified by the aftermath of the closely contested elections in December 2007 whose results were disputed leading to widespread violence in Kenya, it is important to note that the conflict had been ongoing from December 2006 and has its dynamics removed from the issues that arose as a result of the presidential election dispute.

      Beginning June 2007, Mt. Elgon region descended into a vicious conflict which increasingly became violent leading to displacement of tens of thousands of people and untold suffering. Concerned about the welfare of the people many of them congregants of its churches in the region, FPFK started a series of emergency relief operations  that saw relief materials such as foodstuffs, tents, seeds, farm implements etc distributed to thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the region for a period of about 2 years. Much good came from this relief operation. Many lives were saved and suffering alleviated across the region. Yet, for all this success, FPFK was not convinced that it was realizing normalization and food security on a sustainable, region-wide scale.

     In the context of this self-evaluation and on the behest of the Festus Mukoya (Program Coordinator) a participatory workshop was held with community leaders in Mt. Elgon to map out ways of achieving sustainable peace. The workshop changed FPFK Kitale Region’s view of the conflict. It left it convinced that a peace and rights program which worked to build peace encourage reconciliation, cohesion and integration as well as promoting the rights of children, women and the indigenous people could contribute to attainment of sustainable peace in the region. But a question still remained: With a myriad of peace initiatives already in existence in the region, how could FPFK best support and leverage funding and attention for the program? And wouldn’t it just be duplicating and overlapping efforts with the other initiatives in the region?

     As a result, with gracious funding from Norwegian Pentecostal Foreign Mission (PYM), FPFK moved in a new direction starting the Peace-Rights Program at the beginning of 2009. After months of consultations with community and key stakeholders and evaluations (baseline survey conducted in June 2009) a new strategy was arrived at, one that could truly lead to attainment of sustainable peace. The Peace-Rights Program is now implementing this strategy,by baseline report youths in Mt. Elgon were directly affected because most of them played active role in violent militia activities.Sixty percent of those who were in primary and secondary schools witnessed murder of persons either by sword or gunshots.Militia with the spirit of war forced most of the youths to join them as solidarity to Sabaot land defense force.

     This is a militia group that brought paradym shift in lives of this youths that often exhibited post traumatic symptoms like over drinking,drug abuse,and insomnia, being sensitive and general maladaptive behavior.This Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Mt. Elgon gave credence for the program to run a psychosocial program from August 2009 to November same year for pupils in primary and students in secondary schools,reached to 4200 youths who benefited from this program.The program swiftly engaged the ex-militia youths from December 2009 targeting 400 youths who actively involved in militia activities.This is an on going process whose specific objectives are:

1.Help individuals deal with negative psychosocial factors that would make them vulnerable to conflict.


2.Help participants deal with repressed feelings.


3.Enable participants get in touch with their feelings.

       Recent June 2010 evaluation report indicate 81% can now make informed and rational decisions,63% had dramatically improved in their personal behavior and 90% can now solve problems without much violence.

Sabaot cultural practices:

  • Initiation Rituals

The main aim of initiation ceremonies is to serve as a systematic transition from childhood to adulthood. The new status of adulthood involves added responsibility hence need to effectively prepare initiates for this new role in the community. Male and female had their own distinct initiation rites as outlined below in details:

Male Circumcision:
 ..............To be updated ASP............

Female Genital Circumcision:

The girls were circumcised just after dawn. The girls and their female relatives would assemble at the place of operation. Customarily, no man could attend but any woman or girl could. The initiates were made to lie down with their arms above their heads and their legs spread. They were not supposed to be tied or held during the operation.

Just before circumcision, the intestines of a sheep which had been slaughtered for the occasion were laid on the face of the girls to keep their eyes open during the operation. Then the circumciser(surgeon) would perform the act by making three separate incisions into each girl. Thereafter, the girls were laid into a fenced boma* across the entrance of which the entrails of the slaughtered sheep were laid. On each side of the entrance were placed two spears pointing outwards from the boma, only leaving sufficient space for one person to enter. The slaughtered sheep and the spears were to scare away evil spirits. Legend has it that in the olden days these stab were used by parents to spear girls who refused to be circumcised.

Once the girls were inside the boma, people were allowed to visit them. About an hour after the ceremony, the initiates were led away to the huts and put in the care of old women until they would recover in one or two months’ time. It was urine that was used to treat the wounds. After recovery the girls were regarded s ripe and eligible for marriage and able to enjoy other privileges accorded to women.

  • Marriage

            ..............To be updated ASP............

  • Procreation and Naming Ceremonies

During the naming ceremony children were given names based on a variety of factors like time of birth, skin pigmentation, place of birth, special events evolving during birth, past relatives, weather and many more. Some acquired names as they grew based on the special skills of unique attributes.
Examples of Sabaot names and its meaning are:

            ..............To be updated ASP............


  • The concept of Death

    ....................To be updated soon.............................


Sabaots in Kenya:

1.Mt. Elgon District:-

      Most Sabaots live in Mt. Elgon district in Western province of Kenya which is located on the south eastern slopes of Mt. Elgon region, bordering Bungoma district to the south, Trans Nzoia to the east, and Uganda to the west. It covers an area of 944.3 Km2 of which 609.6 Km.2 of the land is made up of gazetted forestland. The district has four administrative divisions which include Cheptais with a population of 48,163, Kapsokwony with 29,480, Kopsiro with 55,957 and Kaptama 28,710. The district headquarters is Kapsokwony whereas Cheptais and Chebyuk act as the main economic centres. According to the 1999 census the district had a population of 162,310 (2.3% growth rate) and a population of 166,088 as per the population projection for the year 2007.

2. Tranzoia, Kwanza and Bungoma Districts:-

     There is undocumented significant population of Sabaots who live in Saboti in Tran-Nzoia District, Endebes in Kwanza District and in central region of Bungoma District (Bong'omek).  We also have significant Sabaot population residing in Tanzania, Sudan, and other African countries.

       Economic activities of Sabaots in Kenya:

     They raise the following animals: Cattle, goats and sheep; they plant the following crops: Maize, Millet, Potatoes, Beans, Sunflower, Coffee, Wheat, Tomatoes, Cabbages, Sukuma-Wiki (Kale), and Onions.

Sabaots in Uganda:
The Sabaots in
Uganda are found in two districts, namely: Kapchorwa and Bukwa District. Therefore we will provide information of Ugandan-Sabaots based on these two political administrative units.

1. Kapchorwa District:

    During the colonial administration, Kapchorwa District was refered as Sebei County, which was located in North Bugisu in the now defunct Bukedi District. Kapchorwa was granted district status on 01 February 1962 as a result of relentless effort by our legendary leader the late King Yavan Maigut Chemonges, shortly before Uganda became an independent nation.

     Apart from the Sabaots, Kapchorwa District is also home tribes: The Pokots and Nandis. Kapchorwa District covers a total area of 1,738 km2 (671 sq mi) and in the 2002 national census the estimated the population of the district was about 141,400; with an annual population growth rate of about 2%. It is estimated that the current population of Kapchorwa (2010) is about 165,700. 

2. Bukwa District:

     Bukwa District is located in eastern
Uganda. The district was created on 1 July 2005. Its neighbors are Nakapiripirit District in the north, Kapchorwa District to the west, and the Republic of Kenya to the south and east. Bukwa District was part of Kapchorwa District prior to July 2005. It was created from Kong’asis county. The district has many well-educated native sons and daughters, but many of these educated Sabaots have sought greener pastures in the neighboring country of Kenya made easier through their Sabaot kinsmen. The national census in 2002 estimated the district population to be approximately 49,900; with an annual population growth rate of 2%. It is estimated that the current population of the district (2010) is approximately 58,300

    Economic activities of Sabaots in Uganda:
    Both Kapchorwa and Bukwa district have similar economic activities which are basically agricultural based. They raise the following animals: Cattle, goats and sheep; they plant the following crops: Maize, Millet, Potatoes, Beans, Simsim,, Sunflower, Cotton, Coffee, Wheat, Tomatoes, Cabbage, Passion fruit, and Onions.

Sabaots in Diaspora:

     We have significant Sabaot population residing in Tanzania, Sudan, and other African countries. There is also a significant population of Sabaots outside the African continent, mostly in countries like USA, Britain, Slovakia, Czech, Australia, Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and many more. There are many reasons for Sabaots relocating to these Western, Asian, and Spanish countries; some of the factors for immigration includes Educational opportunities, Job opportunities, Sports (especially Athletes), Family re-union, Citizenship (lottery offers) and many more factors.


Ward Registered Voters

Chemoge 4,458     

Chepkube 2,915

Cheptais 4,532

Chepyuk 5,113

Chesikak 6,793

Chongeywo 3,190

Elgon 5,197

Emmia 4,269

Kapkateny 3,338

Kaptama 5,453

Namorio 4,911

Total 50,169



(will be updated ASAP)






(will be updated ASAP)



    Despite all these numerous Sabaot fragmentation that have weakened the unity and strength of Sabaot community, we still believe that the almighty God will keep us united and henceforth together we will prevail. We shall always seek refuge in the God of Israel who is also synonymous with the God of Sabaot which is vividly expounded in the holy scripture : James 5:4 (KJV) "Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields (land), which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the lord of  Sabaoth ~ Sabaots" .

     All in all, based on historical facts, God will never let us down despite sailing through rough terrain. We shall always endure the struggle of seeking a prosperous future for our community and ultimately together we will prevail.

    Report compiled and authored by SIDO Editorial Team .