Monday, July 25, 2011

Running and War

If you've wondered how the Kenyans got to be so fast, they were running for their lives:

"...Running success in Africa based on cattle raiding

"In East Africa, more specifically in the western part of Kenya, lives a group of some 3.5 million people who call themselves Kalenjin. During pre-colonial times (before 1895) their so-called traditional sport par excellence was cattle raiding. This was a sport exclusively for young men, and it was dangerous business as one could get killed since, potentially, cattle raiding was also war.

"Cattle raiding was important as a way of regulating the local economy of the different Kalenjin sub-groups especially during times of cattle plaque and drought. It was also important in social matters as cattle was used to accumulate wealth, for paying dowries, for ceremonial purposes and seen as a way of climbing the social ladder if one owned many cows. The more cattle a man owned, the more wives he could have.

"The most fierce and dreaded of all the Kalenjin cattle raiders were the Nandi, the second largest of the Kalenjin sub-groups. As opposed to most other cattle raiders, they were night runners, and they would often cover long distances such as 50 to 60 kilometres before striking at dawn. As running abilities was a prerequisite for being a successful cattle thief, the most successful cattle thieves were obviously the best runners..."