Pokot identity formed in the Kerio Valley perhaps as early as the late 18th and certainly not later than the mid 19th century. It emerged from the assimilation of the Sirkwa era Chok by the Pokotozek section of the Maliri.
Early 20th century accounts of the Pokot identify two distinct branches of the community with the caveat that much as two ways of life are detailed, they were one people.
Beech (1911) identified significant differences between agricultural and pastoral sections of the Pokot in; oaths, punishment for murder and homicide, punishment for assault, punishment for witchcraft, punishment for theft and robbery, marriage & divorce, recourse in case of unpaid debt and land tenure. He however notes that "it must be therefore borne in mind that, although written of here as two distinct sections, the hill and pastoral Suk are essentially the same".
Even in the early stages of assimilation, there were no notable differences in matters of social organisation, initiation or governance between the two Pokot groupings. Socially, Pokot men were divided into three groupings; Karachona or boys, Muren or circumcised men and Poi or old men. Boys once circumcised would join an age-set.
The Turkana and Pokot ethnic groups have organized cattle raids against each other. The two groups have been through numerous periods of war and peace.
The number of Pokot speakers in Kenya has been estimated at 783,000 (last Kenyan census carried out in 2009) while the number of Pokot speakers in Uganda is etimated at 130,000.
Verbal art is very important among the Pokot. Proverbs are used with versatility both to teach and to make a point. At a gathering of elders, a person may use proverbs to show what a good speaker he is. They are also used to teach younger people the consequences of straying from the moral path. A popular tale, that of the Louwialan clan, is told to warn against pride. Another common tale is that of the blind girl who returns from death
. Riddles are mostly used as a way of sharpening children's wits and capturing their attention during story-telling time.
The Pokot have various, descriptive terms for different classes of speech that man engages in. These are as follows;
Lökoi: News of other places
Chiran: News of going on's in the neighborhood
Kokwö: Serious conversations of a business-like nature
Kiruok: Conversations of legal nature (from this stems, kiruokot, a legal specialist)
Even with the introduction of Western education, the Pokot still use folklore as a means of teaching.
In November 2014 there was public outrage abroad when pictures of circumcision of young Pokot girls were published in the West, despite Kenya's legal ban on the practice.
Key personalities of recent times from the community include the renowned athlete Tegla Loroupe, who in 2012 appeared in the African top 100 personalities of the year. Stephen Cheptai Lomeri the first elected Pokot Member of Parliament in the Tugen dominated Baringo County. Kamama Asman Abongutum is another key personality from Tiaty constituency, because of the positive contribution he has achieved since he captured power, currently[when?] chairman of parliamentary select committee on security under the Ministry of interior and co-ordination of national security.
^Beech M.W.H, The Suk - Their Language and Folklore. The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1911, p.3-4
^Beech M.W.H, The Suk - Their Language and Folklore. The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1911, p.4-15
^Beech M.W.H, The Suk - Their Language and Folklore. The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1911, p.28-36
^Beech M.W.H, The Suk - Their Language and Folklore. The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1911, p.4
^Beech M.W.H, The Suk - Their Language and Folklore. The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1911, p.4-8
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