Turkana's Shining Necklaces Top story

8441 Views Kataboi, Kenya


Turkana girls and women are famous far and wide for their necklace decorations. On a sunny day, they sparkle from a distance making the girls movement conspicious.

A Turkana woman will only remove her necklaces if she is seriously ill or in mourning. Otherwise necklaces are worn night and day throughout their life.

Turkana women are raised from birth to take special care of their bodies. Part of this special regimen includes learning how to paint their bodies with grease paint made from animal fat and red ochre. This beauty paint is smeared all over their body in varying shades. A useful side benefit of this beauty paint is that it keeps rats off the sleeping women.

The numerous necklaces Turkana women don require special care. Before putting on a necklace, a woman ensures that it is well smeared with the fat to prevent it chafing against the skin and shoulders. They usually prefer to use cow ghee to oil these necklaces.

The Turkana are found in northwest Kenya. They are Nilotes. Their homeland, which they refer to as Turkan shares a border with Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.


To license these photos, contact Douglas Mutumba, Client Relations Officer. Email: [email protected]; Office: +256 414 530777; Cell: +256 758 745021.


About the author

Olandason Wanyama
Olandason Wanyama is the Karamoja region bureau chief. Amudat, Nakapiripirit, Moroto, Abim, Kotido and Kaabong districts fall under his docket. Wanyama has been a URN staff member since 2012.

The former teacher boasts of 20 years journalism experience. Wanyama started out as a freelance writer for the Daily Monitor newspaper in 1991 in Entebbe. Wanyama also wrote for the army publication Tarehe Sita, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) magazine and The New Vision. While not on the beat, Wanyama taught child soldiers at Uganda Airforce School-Katabi.

Wanyama is very interested in conflict reporting, climate change, education, health and business reporting. He is also an avid photographic chronicler of vanishing tribal life in the East African region.