The Turkana believe in a god whose name is Akuj, he is associated with the sky and is the creator of all things; they turn to him to ask for blessings and rain and to celebrate sacrifices in his honor.
The Turkana also believe in the existence of spirits of the dead, ancestors or ngipean, and an evil spirit, Ekipe, who can equate to the figure of the Devil for Catholics.
The Turkana people live in an extremely arid area and therefore they are dependent on the rain for the survival of their livestock; Akuj, the god who resides in heaven or the mountains, is responsible for the rain and the Turkana believe that if God is happy he donates the rain, and if he is angry, he will withhold the rain thus giving rise to periods of drought and famine.
Basically, Akuj God is a benevolent God creating the rain and abundance, in times of severe drought and epidemics, the Turkana make animal sacrifices to reconnect with Akuj.
The sacrifices consist in the killing of an ox for cases of drought, of a bull instead to ward off the memory of animals following an outbreak; in both cases the animals are sacrificed and cooked and the smell of roast meat is able to appease the anger of God.
As in most African traditional religions, the Turkana have religious figures, prophets and diviners who are called emuron; these characters are able to receive revelations directly from God through their dreams, or by reading tea leaves, tobacco, stones or intestines of an animal that was sacrificed.
The emuron help meet the demands of the spirits of the ancestors through rituals, formulas of exorcism, amulets and talismans, in addition to small offerings of milk, tobacco and water, that is considered sacred; the Turkana believe that diseases are caused by the anger of the dead to have been forgotten.
The emuron are often men, ngimurok, but also women can have the same powers and, in addition to communicating with God and with the spirits, they are able to find the causes of a disease and to cure it, indicating the correct course of actions to be undertaken.
The emuron plays so many roles, he is a priest, a wizard, a healer, a diviner; especially for this he is an estimated character and at the same time feared by the population, he is often also very rich, thanks to the gifts he receives to his performances.
In almost all the Turkana villages there is an emuron who plays the role of the "pitcher of sandals"; through the launch and location of when they fall on the ground he interprets and defines the causes of a problem and provides the answers to solve it.

Life, tradition and culture of Turkana people

  • Turkana clothing and jewels
  • Turkana rituals and ceremonies
  • Turkana body care and modification 
  • Turkana religion
  • Turkana society and the importance of breeding