Fashion in Turkana

As with most vast and dry places, Turkana has a haunting beauty to it. The sand is tinged with yellow highlights, the sky is an even light blue with fluffy swabs of cotton white clouds and a horizon that doesn’t end.

Their houses are thatched with drying fronds from the several Doum Palm trees lining the river beds. The terrain looks easy but it is a common place to get your car stuck in the volumes of sand that are left behind when the rivers thirst.

With ‘life’ so far away, the culture and fashion within Turkana is bold and vivacious. There, as we know, Mohawks are not a sign of elite gutsy fashion, but just one of the ways to display their beauty.

The character amassed in the facial expression of the Turkana female can light up the covers of Essence, Cosmopolitan or Vogue magazine. The linear bone structure in their faces are exotic but naive.

Rebecca Akale, age unknown, has seven kids. She tells me, through a translator, how they make perfume in the Loyolla Community.

There is a tree called Epye. When the leaves begin to dry up we grind them and mix it with oil, making it as fine as possible. This oil is then applied to their skin and the many beads they adorn their necks with. Rebecca says the scent stays on for at least a few weeks.

Usually the women make a lot of it and then use it sparingly.

It is this Epye that the youth sometimes use during Edonga, a socialising dance in the evenings that is meant for the young Turkana folk. This happens as the parents relax at home, and involves vague disco moves where the teens size each other up and identify their partners.

Rebecca says the Edonga is usually unchaperoned.

Some other features that you may see at the Edonga are young men with top hats and a feather on the side – the more colourful the better.

Both men and women use the branch of a tree called Asakon to clean their teeth, and both also pierce dotted designs on their skin in kind of a swollen tattoo that is very interesting to look at.

The dreadlocked Mohawks, which don’t have a name, the several coloured beads that they wear heavy on their necks and the piercings on their ears and lips, are the envy of every rock head.






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