|Members of the Maasai community in a meeting [Photo:Standard]|
By Lemomo Ole Kulet
They include the ilkunono, Iltorobo and the iloibonok. The ilkunono are feared due to their secretive nature and their way of life. The ‘Iltorobo’ are scorned and are seen as poor.
They are treated as a lower caste or underclass among the pastoral community. In fact to some sections of the Maasai such as the Purko, marriage among the ‘ilkunono’ was prohibited, but due to education things are now changing. It is possible for a Purko man to marry from the ‘ilkunono’. The ‘iloibonok’ are respected and revered due to their expertise in rituals and herbal medicine.
‘Ilkunono’ are blacksmiths and are mostly found in Suswa and also in Narok town. They also engage in trade and have no much attachment to cows.
Occasionally, They move from place to place selling cowbells, belts, bangles, arrowheads, spears, ornamental earrings, swords and also bracelets.
“They were feared among the Maasai since they were seen as merchants of death by the fact that they made things like arrows, spears, swords and many other warfare equipment and weapons,” says Kiraitu Masinga.
“There was an impression of uncleanliness attached to blacksmiths and their food. Other Maasai feared visiting the ‘ilkunono’ at home. They were considered unclean and were ranked the lowest among the Maasai,” he says.
Lesiamon Turanta says the skills of the ‘ilkunono’ are unmatchable, but that has not won them respect.
“They are gifted and they have business acumen that other Maasai do not have. Unfortunately, most of the other groups of the Maasai do not recognise them at all. Some like the Purko did not even allow intermarriage. It was a taboo to marry from the clan due to stereotyping,” he says.