History and more About the El Molo
Lake Turkana itself is slightly alkaline, and home to crocodiles, hippo, Nile perch & tilapia (excellent eating and a mainstay of the El Molo diet) , and tiger fish (lots of razor sharp teeth- carnivorous and dangerous!)
The lake is evaporating at a steady rate of about 30 cm per year, making it more alkaline and concentrating pollutants, increasing the pressures on this small ethnic group.
Very few elders speak the true El Molo language, and presently speak mostly Maa, and a little Swahili. The children learn English in school, and a few of the elders speak a few words of it. They live in small huts made of the doumpalm fronds with supports made from the few acacia trees available. They dress following Samburu custom- beads and goat or fish skins, incorporating many of the lake artefacts such as fish bones and teeth. The elders still dress traditionally, the youngest wearing the traditional 'selah' and the school age youth dress mostly in western-style clothing.
The life of the El Molo is generally based on fishing, using spears or harpoons, fishing rods (made from the roots of an acacia with doumpalm fiber and a forged iron point or hook) and nets( made from doumpalm fiber). Modern' boats are difficult to maintain and are rarely available due to their expense. Their traditional rafts are made of doumpalm logs and tied with rope. It is quite a feat to ride this into the waves of Lake Turkana and chase after crocodile, hippo and Nile perch—all killed with a hand harpoon! The caught fish is usually either roasted or cut into long strips and dried in the sun on the roofs of the huts, or on fiber mats laid on the ground. The dried fish is then soaked in the lake for softening before being boiled and eaten. The El Molo eat very little meat, unlike their cousins the Samburu and Turkana who will use their smallstock for food, and unlike these cousins, they are not pastoralist - they do not keep cattle. The second mainstay of diet is the 'loka' , the nut or date of the doumpalm- eaten mostly by the children
Currently the El Molo suffer greatly from the increased pollution of the Lake, lack of sanitary facilities and no fresh drinking water. WildiZe Foundation is working closely with the El Molo Bay Gurapau community group on creating an environmentally friendly and easily sustainable fresh water still. Every few years cholera outbreaks run rampant through the village causing death to the very old and the very young. Securing funding for a fresh water drinking source would tremendously improve the lifestyle of the El Molo without damaging their culture or traditional integrity, and allow this small tribe to continue into the future. WildiZe also provided funding for the creation of a new meeting hall- an enclosed doumpalm hut structure creating shade, where the elders meet and discuss community matters, and where the tourists who come through the area are welcome to shop the 'market' and purchase El Molo crafts. This, in turn, helps supply some further economic stability for the community's needs.