The Sengwer people are an indigenous community who primarily live in the Embobut forest in the western highlands of Kenya and in scattered pockets across Trans Nzoia, West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties. The Sengwer are sometimes portrayed as a component of the Marakwet people but are a distinct ethnic grouping.
The Sengwer people are currently a marginalized community and face significant threats to their identity and ancestral lands. International and human rights organizations including the United Nations, Amnesty International and the Kenya Human Rights Commission recognize the Sengwer as indigenous peoples whose claim to the area goes back hundreds of years and have repeatedly raised concerns about human rights violations against them.Read More
The Sengwer prior to the 19th century herded a distinctive type of long-horned black cattle, postulated by Lamphear (1994) as being a cervicothoraic-humped Sanga crossbreed.
During this period, social groupings similar in concept to clans seem to have played a role in the social organisation of the Sengwer. One of these 'clans' was known as the Kacepkai. This clan was displaced during the Turkana invasion of Moru Assiger and were said to have become the diviners of a number of different peoples in the Mt. Elgon region.
The Sengwer are credited with great mystical abilities and divination appears to have played a large role in their culture. The confederacy gave rise to the Meturona line of diviners among the Turkana, the Kachepkai diviners of the Pokot and the Talai diviners of the Uas Nkishu Maasai, the Nandi and Kipsigis.
The most notable element of Sengwer culture was an adornment of a single cowrie shell attached to the forelock of Sengwer women, a hairstyle that was also common to the Oropom who neighbored them to the west and north-west.