Of the 4000 Yaaku people, only 7 in the world can speak the Yakunte language fluently and all of them are over 70 years of age. The Yaaku or Mukogodo are people living in the Mukogodo forest west of Mount Kenya. "Mukogodo" means people who live in rocks. "Yaaku" is a southern Nilotic term for hunting people. They were assimilated into the dominant pastoralist tribe of the Maasai in the 1920's. They are known for their bee keeping and hunting and gathering. According to UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, the Yakunte language is listed as one of the six languages in Kenya classified as extinct. Another seven languages are considered endangered.
Saving the Yakunte language through class.
A recent BBC report documents how the Yakunte language is taught twice each month. The project is funded by the French Cultural Group. A Yaaku activist and teacher Manaseh Matunge warns. " If these elders die, then our language will die because they are the custodians of our cultures and languages". Manaseh believes he can still preserve the Yakunte language through class.
Unrecognized by the Kenyan government.
The Kenyan government does not officially recognize the Yaaku as one of the 42 ethnic groups. It's considered as one of the sub-groups of the Maasai tribe. Originally, the Yaaku speakers migrated from southern Ethiopia. They produced food, kept cattle and were cultivators before settling among the hunting and gathering group of the Nilotic Maasai.
A Dictionary of the Yaaku people from the elders.
UNESCO estimates 231 languages are on the brink of extinction and 37 out of these are found in the Sub-Saharan region with Kenya having 13 endangered languages. Beginning 2014, Manaseh and other Yaaku elders with the help of a Dutch researcher created their own dictionary. They developed it from a manuscript of words diarized by a German scholar.
Now a Yaaku trust has been formed to promote awareness of Yaaku culture and it's people. It is aimed at preserving it's distinct and unique Cushitic language for the future generations and hold custody the hunter-gatherer practice so that it can be used by the last of the Yaaku survivors. #Africa