Who Are We and Where Do We Fit? the Terik Community Search for Belonging

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Everlyn KISEMBE, Moi University, Kenya
Questions on the linguistic and ethnic origin of the Terik community, an endangered minority group in Kenya are not known. Some believe that they originated from the Luyia. Others think that the Terik people came from the Kalenjin group since Terik seems to be mutually intelligible with Nandi Kalenjin dialect. The number of Terik speakers is not known. The Terik inhabit parts of Kakamega district (neighboring the Luyia) and Nandi district (Kalenjin neighbors). Terik speakers have never been treated as a distinct ethnic group (Heine 1992) and have and still encounter violence, rejections and disputes from both the Kalenjin and the Luyia communities.

What are the opportunities and pressures the Terik community is facing regarding the language? What are the language related goals of the Terik community? What aspects of the language are most valued by the Terik community? What aspects of the Terik language are most endangered? are questions we seek to answer.

The data analyzed was collected from interview sessions held between Terik elders, chiefs and chair persons of the community, elicited utterances from Terik speakers and from everyday communication practices in a wide range of social spheres such as market days, circumcision and marriage ceremonies among Terik speakers. Results indicate that the Terik community share strong cultural strengths; personal and cultural beliefs, values, cultural knowledge of the people, the community’s spirituality, creativity and traditional technologies in an environment where ‘forced’ assimilation comes out so strong resulting to both stable and shifting multilingualism within the community.