Doko people

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The Doko were a people who were said to occupy regions between Kaffa in Ethiopia and Mount Kenya. They were spoken of by a number of communities and descriptions of Doko individuals made by a few people. This community has since been assimilated into surrounding communities and no longer exists as an identity.[1]


John Walter Gregory in a narrative of his journey to Mount Kenya and Lake Baringo published in 1896 described meeting a people whom he called Doko. He prefaces the account of the meeting by discussing the people known as the Doko, whose existence was based on the evidence of "native rumors". He notes that these were very precise and that they were first reported in detail by Captain Harris in 1844. Harris, who had obtained his information from the Shoa, described a "pygmy and perfectly wild race, not exceeding four feet in height (and) of a dark olive complexion...". Gregory also makes note of Ludwig Krapf's claim to have heard about the Doko and later seen one in Barawa. Gregory notes that this account came after that of Harris and that a comparison of the two accounts strongly indicated that Krapf had plagiarized Harris' account. He notes that it also came after an earlier published account by Krapf of the same visit in which he did not record accounts of the Doko. He therefore felt that this threw "doubt on the value of (Krapf's) statement that he saw one of the pygmies in Barawa, and that it 'accorded completely' with the descrption he had copied from Harris". Gregory ends by stating that "..there was therefore no reliable evidence of the occurrence of pygmies in East Africa, and in my hasty march I did not expect to see any".[1]

Gregory then narrates an incident that occurred as he was collecting specimens of a tree. He states that he was suddenly recalled by a shout of "Watu" (People) and he hurried back to where his interpreter was and found him talking to two individuals. He describes his encounter as follows:

Their hands dropped in horror, and one of them said to the other 'Ngai" (God). I had expected and dreaded to find that they were Masai, instead of which they were Negrillos. They were both of them young men of about 4 feet and 6 inches in height. They were of a brown color, different from the copper brown of the Zanzibari or Masai. They had bent shins, rounded heads,longish hair,and protruding jaws, and the outline of their backs had the characteristic Bushman curve.

— Gregory, 1896[1]

Gregory states that the two individuals led them to a ford over the Guaso Nairotia whereupon he kept one of the Doko hostage and sent the other with a present for the father to ask him to visit. The Doko later arrived towards evening with "three other men of whom one was of a normal size and was clearly a half-breed Mkwafi".[1]

Way of life[edit]

Gregory spent a day with the Doko individuals and recorded elements of their way of life from discussions that he had. He notes that;

They live in the recesses of the forest in small families or clans, scattered over an enormous extent of country. Their culture and habit are quite primitive. The pottery they have they buy from the Kikuyu, for they do not know how to make it. They do not cultivate anything, but live on wild fruits, roots, and the produce of the chase. They also collect honey and keep it in bags made from skins. They do not fish and have no domesticated animals. Their only weapons are bows and arrows and knives.

— Gregory, 1896[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Gregory, John Walter (1896). The Great Rift Valley : being the narrative of a journey to Mount Kenya and Lake Baringo : with some account of the geology, natural history, anthropology and future prospects of British East Africa. London: J. Murray. p. 326-332.