The Gabbra

THE GABBRA

 

Closely related to the Borana, they number 16,000 officially but they may be up to 25,000. Most of them live in Marsabit District but some of them are established as far as the Ethiopian border. They are mainly herdsmen, but one may happen to meet a trader on his camel carrying goods for sale to the different settlements in the Chalbi desert.

The origins of the Gabbra are not quite certain. They might come from a Somali speaking group called Garre who were defeated in the 16th century and evolved into a Galla speaker. Another possibility proposed is that the Gabbra are a mixture of Somali, Samburu and Rendille.

But the most likely possibility is that they were a subgroup of the Borana, but became a distinct people. The two groups have many things in common. The women share the same taste for aluminum ornaments. The Gabbra are divided in several sub-groups: Alban, Galbo,Garci, which are again sub-divided into numerous settlements.

Each village forms a group apart and is very mobile. During the dry season the young men leave in search of pasture for the cattle, sometimes going as far as 300 kilometers away. The village itself moves only twice a year at a distance not exceeding 200km; it migrates from the dry season plains to the wet season hillsides and back to the dry season plain again. These movements depend

mainly on the camels without which the Gabbra would not survive.


 

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