Around 2500 and 3000 years ago, Cushites were already occupying the grasslands of the Kenya highlands cultivating food crops like sorghum , millet and rearing long horned humpless cattle.
âThey existed in two groups;
The southern Cushites
The eastern Cushites.
The Southern Cushites
âThey might have entered present day Kenya through northern Kenya and seem to have originated from the Ethiopian highlands. Since they were pastoralists, they must have been looking for better pasture for their livestock.
Around 2500 and 3000 years ago, they were already occupying the grasslands of the Kenya highlands cultivating food crops like sorghum , millet and rearing long horned humpless cattle.
They even extended upto Tanzania.
They included the Iraqi, Boni and Burungi of Tanzania, The Dahallo or Sanye of the lower Tana (the remaining southern Cushites in Kenya). Some were later absorbed by the incoming groups.
Today the Borana occupy the area north of the Tana River.
The Eastern Cushites
âThey include the Borana, Somali, Oromo, Gabra, Rendille and Burji.
âThey originated either from Ethiopia or Somalia moving and settling into Kenya around 2000 and 1000 years ago due to the following reasons;
âEscaping from clan or family feuds.
There was population pressure in their area of origin.
They were in search of better grazing lands.
They were fleeing the outbreak of disease that affected both people and animals.
They were escaping famine and drought.
They fled constant attacks from their neighbours such as the Somali.
The migrated to satisfy their spirit of adventure.
âThey came in the 16th century from Ethiopia. Initially they settled on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana.
âThey later moved south pushing the Mijikenda and the Pokomo out of the Shungwaya to occupy Malindi and Kilifi
Today they occupy the southern part of Tana River and are neighbours to the Pokomo.
âThe Somali represent the largest single group of eastern Cushites in Kenya.
Effects of migration and settlement of the Oromo in Kenya
They inter-married with the people they came into contact with e.g. Somali, Pokomo and Borana.
Their settlement in Kenya led to expansion of trade.
Their settlement led to increased conflict between communities over resources e.g. pasture and water.
Displacement and redistribution of people in the area where they settled e.g. the Oromo pushed the Bantu from the Shungwaya region.
Assimilation of some communities they came into contact with e.g. the Oromo vs. Somali.
Cultural exchange e.g. neighbouring communities adopted Islam.
Settlement in high agricultural potential areas e.g. river valleys encouraged some of them to practice crop farming.
Expansion of agriculture due to demand of agricultural produce.
âThey are also Oromo speaking people whose origin is southern Ethiopia.
âTheir migration into Kenya was due to escaping the Menelik Wars of Conquest in 1897 and who had imposed heavy taxes on them.
They represent some of the most recent migrations into Kenya end as late as 1900 when more Borana groups fled into Kenya from Somali running away from the war between the Somali Nationalists and the British.
Today the Borana occupy the area north of the Tana River.
They originated from Mogadishu where they were living by 10th century AD.
âThey begun moving southwards into Kenya around that time maybe due to the Oromo threat or they were looking for pasture for their livestock.
The Somali represent the largest single group of eastern Cushites in Kenya.
Results of Cushitic migration into Kenya
There was massive warfare during the migrations leading to killing of many people in the process. For example, there was constant warfare between the Somali and the Oromo. This displaced some of the communities which they came into contact with e.g. the Oromo pushed the Mijikenda from the Shungwaya region in AD 1500 AND 1600.
They intermarried with those people they interacted with e.g. the Some of the Pokomo intermarried with the Borana..
Their settlement led to expansion / development of trade between them and their neighbours e.g. they traded with the Samburu and the Maasai.
There was cultural exchange between them and the Bantu and Nilotic neighbours. E.g. the Taboo against eating Fish among the Bantu, the age set system and circumcision has origin from the Cushites.
The migrations led to population pressure in the region.
Adoption of some agricultural practices from the Bantu.
There was redistribution of population in Kenya. The Mijikenda for example were scattered at Shungwaya
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