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The Munyoyaya People of Kenya

Population:     15,000 (Multiple sources)
Religion:        Islam, Animism
Registry of Peoples code(s):  Munyoyaya:  106915
Registry of Peoples code(s):  Orma:  107680
Registry of Languages code(s) (Ethnologue):  Orma:  orc


The Munyoyaya are a small, closely knit people group, living in Tana River district of Kenya, north of Coast province.  They claim to have come from Ethiopia, migrating southward and settling at their present home.  About 20% live in Garissa town.

he Munyoyaya are part of the Oromo group of peoples, whose heritage goes back to the 1500's in the southern Ethiopian highlands.  This migration took place gradually, with the Munyoyaya settling in their current area by about 1900.  The Oromo were cattle or camel-herders, but the Munyoyaya have become farmers and fishers in their life on the Tana River.  The Oromo peoples pushed south, putting pressure on earlier Cushite or Bantu inhabitants of what are now Ethiopia and Kenya.

hey are a Cushite people speaking the same language as the Orma.  The Munyoyaya believe that they are well known to all people groups even though very few Kenyans have ever heard of them.  Some people call them Korokoro.  They are referred to as Munyo in the 2005 edition of The Ethnologue.

The Munyoyaya are part of the Orma people but consider themselves a separate tribe.  Following this self-identity, Munyoyaya are normally considered a distinct ethnicity.  Like Cushitic people in Ethiopia, they practice subsistence farming on the flood plains of the Tana River growing mainly corn and bananas and occasionally fishing.

They also keep stock, though very minimally.  They are reputed as a hospitable people, kind to strangers.  They have very strong traditional beliefs and customs.

The Munyoyaya tell a story of Boru Rooba, their leader by divine appointment, who predicted the coming of a flying canoe (aeroplane) and a canoe moving very fast on the ground (motor vehicle).  He also predicted droughts and floods with exceptional insight

The Munyoyaya speak the Orma language.  This language is a member of the Oromo group, in the Eastern Cushite family of Afro-Asiatic languages.

Today all Munyoyaya people claim to be Muslims.  Their employment by Arabs, along with their interaction with their Somali neighbors, brought the change to Islam.  The fact that many do not understand Islam makes them turn to their previous animistic practices to find solutions to life's problems.

The first active Christian work among the Orma-speaking peoples began in the 1900's by a Kenyan mission agency and a Bible translation and literacy project. The geographical inaccessibility is a major reason why they have had no Christian contact.  One source makes reference to four known Munyoyaya Christians.

Related Profiles on the Site
The Borana People
The Orma People

For more on the Orma People
Orma Language — Ethnologue

Orville Boyd Jenkins and Francis Omondi
Originally written June 1996
Posted on OJTR in 2002
Rewritten 28 January 2008
Last edited 9 January 2014

Copyright © 1996, 2002, 2008 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Please give credit and link back.  Other rights reserved.
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