Tugen people

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Tugen may also refer to Tugen Hills in Kenya.

The Tugen are a sub tribe of the Kalenjin people alongside the Nandi, Kipsigis, Keiyo, Pokot, Marakwet, Sabaot, Ogiek, Lembus and Sengwer sub-tribes. They occupy Baringo County and some parts of Nakuru County in the former Rift Valley Province, Kenya. Daniel arap Moi, the second president of Kenya (1978–2002), was from the Tugen sub-tribe. The Tugen people speak the Tugen language. The Tugen population is estimated at 350,000.

The Lembus people are confused as being either Nandi or a sub tribe of Kalenjin; but has been dismissed with history discovered of the Lembus people. They are predominantly a group of People who originally lived in the forest called Somek, Murkaptuk, Kamaruso and Partially assimilated Ogiek.


Traditionally, the Tugen were cattle keepers and the cow occupied a central part in their cultural lives, as meat, milk, currency, and dowry. Among the Kalenjin community they are known as the most resilient alongside the Pokot people since they live in harsh climatic conditions.


The Tugen are further subdivided into four subgroups or sections :



Traditionally, like other Kalenjin people, the Tugen prayed to a God called Asis (which means 'sun'.) There are also gods namely Chepapkoyo(god of harvest), Cheptengeryan (god of love). Most have converted to Christianity. Islam has flourished in the major towns and it was these towns that some Tugens convert into Islam and adopted Islamic names.


The Tugen social organisation centres on the age-set, or ibindo. There are seven age-sets (ibinwek) which are rotational, meaning at the end of one ageset new members of that generation are born. The order is roughly as given below.

Among the some Kalenjin peoples, an age-set called Maina exists. However, among the Tugen, this ageset is extinct. Legend has it that the members of this ibindo were wiped out by the Keiyo, their cousins in war. For fear of a recurrence, the community decided to retire the age-set.

Ibindo was given out at initiation and by simple arrangements, there ought to be one ibindo between a father and a son. For example, a korongoro cannot beget a kipkoimet. The Tugen don't consider a woman to have an ageset, hence she can marry any ageset except that in which her father belongs. The Tugen say "ma tinyei ibin korko" which means a woman has no ageset.

  1. Chumo
  2. Sawe
  3. Korongoro
  4. Kipkoimet
  5. Kaplelach
  6. Kipnyigei
  7. Nyongi

Age sub-set (siritie)[edit]

In each age-set, the initiates were bundled into siritie or what can be understood as a 'team'. There are three 'teams' or siritoik in an age-set (ibindo) namely:

  • Chongin
  • kapchepsuei
  • Barnot (literally youth)

Notable people[edit]