They are the smallest of the Galla-speaking
people. They generally inhabit the region of Moyale.
Their main economical base is
camel and goat husbandry. The 13,000 Sakuye live in north-eastern Kenya,
near the Ethiopian border. They are a small, semi-nomadic group of
pastoralists. They herd camels and goats. Their name comes from an old name
for the town of Marsabit, Saaku. The group of the Rendille people who moved
north from Marsabit were called Saakuye by the Borana.
Following Kenyaís independence in
1963, nearly all of their livestock died due to a conflict between the
Somalis and the Kenya government. Somalis were crossing into Kenya on raids
against the people living there. The Sakuye were caught in the middle and as
a result most Sakuye became destitute. Some have been able to rebuild their
herds but many remain poor. They survived by farming. But the arid
conditions make farming very difficult.
Their lifestyle and culture is
changing as they strive to maintain their identity. Even their traditional
religious beliefs are changing as in some areas, traditional Sakuye rituals
have been replaced by Islamic prayers. The cultural and spiritual vacuum
that results from these fundamental changes of life, may be an open door for
the gospel of peace. This opportunity needs to be grasped because the Sakuye
people are less than one-tenth of one percent Christian.
Today there are two sections of
the Sakuye people, living in two areas. The northern group are
semi-permanent at Dabel and the southern group is in Isiolo District.
Clan structure and traditions are
no longer as important as in the past. The majority canít read and speak
only Borana. Many identify themselves as Borana. They maintain social ties
with the Somali peoples. Even the Muslim teachers canít read although they
want to learn. However, the school children are learning to read. Most
families exist on famine relief but the fortunate ones are those who still
have cattle and fare better.