Who are the Rendille?
The Rendille live in the Kaisut Desert east of Lake Turkana, northern Kenya as semi-nomadic pastoralists. There are two distinctive groups: the northern Rendille, who herd camels, and the southern Rendille who herd cattle and are related to the Samburu with whom they intermarry. They live in ‘manyattas’ or homesteads of 70-100 houses, dress in bright colours and wear beads. The men undergo various rites of passage to bring them into adulthood; young girls are often spoken for at an early age and marry very young.
What do they believe?
They practice a traditional, animistic religion. There is a place in every village called ‘nahapo’ where men gather every night to pray around a fire, which is never to be allowed to go out. They pray to the moon, which plays an important part in their religion as well as animal sacrifices and worshipping ancestral spirits. They consider themselves descendants of Jews, and practice a traditional Passover-type ceremony.
What is being done to reach them?
In 1982 the Swanepoel’s began living in Korr among the Rendille. During their 33 years there they created an alphabet for the unwritten Rendille language, which is leading to a translation of the New Testament. They were also involved in developing water resources, two primary schools, and one secondary school. Since then, short termers have gone out to support their work and an evangelical church has been established by Rendille Christians.