HISTORY

Located at the heart of Kenya's lake-studded Rift Valley, Mt Eburru occupies a special place in African prehistory. The lakes created ideal habitats for humankind and even one of the defining periods of the New Stone Age - the Eburran - is named after the mountain.

 

Evidence of human activity, such as tools, burial sites, pottery and beads, has been found in the region over one million years to 35,000 years ago. Eburru's inhabitants based in caves and rock shelters were living settled hunter-gather lives. 

 

Around 3,000 years ago, when conditions were far drier than today, newcomers from Ethiopia with herds of cattle arrived, soon to be followed by others with goats and sheep. The arrivals, known as the Southern Cushites, would go on to dominate the Rift Valley for more than 1,000 years. Preliminary pastoralists, the newcomers cleared the landscape into open grassland and introduced food crops such as sorghum and finger millet.

 

Another wave of immigrants arrived 2,000 years ago, this time from South Sudan, the north-west. These were the Southern Nilote pastoralists, and through interaction and interbreeding with the population, are now collectively known as the Kalenjin. 

 

The Maasai pastoralists arrived in the early 18th Century and displaced the resident Kalenjin, forcing them into settling instead in adjacent highlands areas west of the Rift. Maasai expansion was curtailed by the arrival of the first Europeans in the 19th Century. Livestock plagues followed - rinderpest and bovine pleuro-pneumonia - killing nearly 90 per cent of the cattle in the region. Outbreaks of smallpox ravaged East Africa's populations.

 

At the time of the arrival of the Europeans by the 1890’s, the land around Eburru was largely unsettled.  Maasai communities used the lower slopes for grazing particularly in the dry weather as their cattle could always secure water from Lake Naivasha.

 

European settlers established large privately owned farms and ranches around Mt Eburru. After independence, most of the area's European settler farmers left and many sold the farms to the Government, other farms were subdivided under the land state managed settler redistribution programme.

 

Today the people represent a variety of ethnic groups and cultures living side by side on crowded farmlands and pastures. Ethnic communities from Eastern Rift and Western Rift who worked on the original developed European farms stayed and bought land. Small Okiek communities still live on the Forest borders. They have developed a bee keeping activity.  Their  forest honey from 400 well dispersed beehives is in much demand.   

 

 

 

 

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