Pokomo in Kenya

Joshua Project has identified the Pokomo only in Kenya





Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The 'Pokomo' are an ethnic group of Kenya, from the Bantu language group. They are predominantly agriculturalists and fresh water fishermen living along the River Tana in the Tana River County. They speak Pokomo language: 'Kipokomo'.

Where Are they Located?

They live along the River Tana in the Tana River County.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Pokomos are found along the Tana River riverine and the flood plains. 'Tana' comes from the word 'Chana', which means river. The Pokomo have always referred to River Tana as 'Chana Maro', that is River Maro. Probably the word 'Chana' is coined from either side with the Kikuyu word 'Chania', which is the same word that Kikuyu use to refer to one of the tributary of Tana: River Chania . Pokomos are mainly farmers and have all along depended on the flooding regime of River Tana to grow rice, bananas, green grams, beans and maize. The staple food of the Pokomo is rice and fish. Other famous food staples include 'Matoli'-cooked banana chips mixed with fish, ' Marika'- cooked banana mixed with fish and smashed together,'Konole'-cooked mixture of sifted maize and green gram/beans,'Nkumbu'-ash baked or boiled banana. Currently, 'sima' or 'ugali' in Kiswahili or stiff cornmeal porridge in English has become the main Pokomo dish due to changing or nonexistence of river flooding regimes and weather that is not able to support the cultivation of rice.

What Are Their Beliefs?

'Kijo' is a group of elders who were believed to possess spiritual powers and were sought whenever the community needs spiritual guidance. There were times during the year when people would gather near the sacred places in the night singing and dancing 'Gangana' and the spiritual leader would emerge from the forest in the middle of the night walking on poles covered with a white dress and his face covered with a mask. He will walk around and go back into the forest, leaving behind a hysterical group of people believing that their prayers have been answered. Within the Kijo there were two other groups i.e. the 'Gangana' or healers and the 'Chawi' or witches. 'Kijo' were very powerful and they had absolute powers to take by force family lands, and banish anybody from 'gaga dya Maro'- Maroland if he goes against the Pokomo norms. The Political governance of the Pokomo was headed by the 'Gasa'. This was also a group of council of elders who were revered and believed to possess wisdom on solving political and administering justice. The 'Gasa' is the only elder group which is still in existence and it is sought to give political guidance to the Pokomo community to date. The Gasa has also been formally recognized to dispense justice on land and family cases.

What Are Their Needs?

Currently, Pokomo need education and opportunities of exposure.

Profile Source:   Maro Andy Tola  

People Name General Pokomo
People Name in Country Pokomo
Population in Kenya 109,000
World Population 109,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 3.2
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Lower, Lower Pokomo, Malachini
Affinity Bloc Sub-Saharan Peoples
People Cluster Bantu, East-Coastal
People Name General Pokomo
Ethnic Code NAB57j
People ID 13120
Country Kenya
Region East and Southern Africa
Continent Africa
10/40 Window No
Persecution Rank 19  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Coast Province, Tana River District, Upper and Lower Tana River.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Kipfokomo: Pokomo (109,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Kipfokomo: Pokomo 109,000
For Primary Language: Kipfokomo

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (2007)
New Testament Yes   (2003-2004)
Complete Bible No
Audio Bible Online
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Jesus Film: view in Kipfokomo Film / Video
Online New Testament (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Islam

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 18.00 %)
25.00 %
Ethnic Religions
10.00 %
0.00 %
65.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
20.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
60.0 %
Roman Catholic
20.0 %
Photo Source: Anonymous  
Map Source: Joshua Project  
Profile Source: Maro Andy Tola  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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