Also known as the ‘holders of the stick of God’, the Rendille community is formed by a group of camel herders who are generally considered to have one of the strongest claims of indigeneity in Marsabit County, Northern Kenya. Based on their tribal tradition about their origin, the Rendille have no large-scale migration indicating that they have at one point migrated into their present tribal territory from somewhere else. In fact, each of the 9 clans that makes up the Rendille (with the exception of the odhola) tell that they originally come from different localities all found within the present day tribal territory.
In addition, the ontology of the word 'Marsabit' is believed to have also originated from the name 'Marsabicho', a Rendille word meaning a foggy place. However, being the original inhabitants prior to the arrival of the other groups the Rendille have a distinct cultural and linguistic characteristics, which has also contributed to their continued marginalisation both in the local and national politics, which is deeply ethnically characterised.
Traditionally, the Rendille are part of the so called acephalous societies with no form of centralised authority and administrative control. Without a centralized governance system, the Rendille have as a result been vulnerable from both external and internal forces, including the deep historical conflicts and divisions that still exists today, between the various clans which are further divided into two moiteys ( Western and Eastern blocks).
In addition to the effects of clan based conflicts and power struggles, the Rendille have also been grappling with the vagaries of climate change, and also their adoption to the ecologically restrictive, fragile, and harsh environment that characterises their communal and ancestral land. The Rendille have also been deeply affected due to the hostile relationship and enmity with other neighbouring groups, including the Boran and the Gabbra; the two major ethnic groups currently competing for economic superiority and political monopoly in Marsabit County.
In order to ensure the survival of their human and livestock population, the Rendille were forced to forged a strong alliances with their close neighbour the Samburu. However, while this alliance proved to have positive results such as forming a strong resistance against the violent attacks orchestrated by other communities, it also posed a threat to their cultural survival.
As a matter of fact, the close interaction between the Rendille and Samburu has not only resulted to the "samburunization" of the Rendille, but also led to the development of a new hybrid culture known as the "Ariaal"; a word meaning the Samburu speaking Rendille.
Presently, the Rendille youth makes up the most affected segment of the community, the reason being that they have not only increasingly adopted the Samburu language, and their associated culture and value systems, but also benefited from modern education systems, which has further caused their alienation from their language, culture and ancestral lands. In addition due to the effects of modernity and adoption of Islam and Christianity, it is also evident that the community is at the brink of not only loosing their language, but also their, culture, identity and strong sense of attachment to their ancestral and communal land.
Based on this background, the main aim of this platform is to provide a digital space where members of the Rendille can document, promote and safeguard their language, and also ensure the transmission of their culture for the benefit of both the present and future generations to come.