During the journey between Lodwar and Kalokol, look out for the standing stones of Namoratunga, 15km southwest of Kalokol some 50m off on the south side of the road. They’re easy to miss, being only a small cluster of metre-high cylindrical stones, but the Turkana are in the habit of balancing small rocks on top of them, so you’ll know them when you see them. Like a miniature Stonehenge, the pillars are a spiritual focus and the scene of a major annual gathering of Turkana clans, usually in December. The stones pre-date the arrival of the Turkana, but little is known about them, even by the people themselves (the name “namoratunga” is used by Turkana to describe any standing stone site). One theory is that the stones were aligned with the positions of important stars in Eastern Cushitic astronomy and were used to determine the dates of ritual ceremonies. Some people call them “dancing stones”, following a legend that told of a tribe dancing on the site, who were turned to stone by the ridicule of a group of new arrivals, the Turkana. More plausible reasons for their existence might be the concentration of haematite and copper ore around the site, the smelting of which (for making weapons) has historically had ritual significance. Uphill from the stones you’ll find several raised rock cairns covering ancient graves, some perfectly delineated with larger regular stones. It’s a fascinating site, and all rather mysterious.

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