Marsabit is a small town in rural and sparsely populated northern Kenya. It is the capital of Marsabit District in the Eastern Region.


Marsabit is located on Mount Marsabit, a large island volcanic mountain that rises from the past at the height of 400 meters semi-desert up to a height of 1700 m. In contrast to the surroundings of the mountain is wooded and suitable for agriculture.


There is nothing known about permanent settlements at the site before 1900. Signs of human settlement in prehistoric times have not yet been found. The living recently in the region ethnic groups of the Rendille, Borana, Samburu Gabbra and lived until 1900 as nomadic cattle breeders, some of them searched the area now Marsabit only in the dry season or drought as a reserve on. They knew the mountain under the name Saaku.

It was not until the early 20th century established the short-lived Boma Trading Company ( 1907-1909 ) and then the British colonial administration a permanent presence at Mount Marsabit. When the Northern Frontier District, to the Marsabit district belonged, was found in 1921 under the military administration of the Kings African Rifles, the district was temporarily renamed after the Gabbra in Gabra District, 1925 you returned to civilian administration. The administration and its infrastructure grew steadily. 1931 lived 262 persons in this settlement, mainly police officers, government officials and some Indian and Somali businessmen. After 1931 farmers were recruited by the Burji and Konso from Moyale to grow food locally. With them, the population rose to 1935 on 664 The establishment of nationals of the directly neighboring pastoralists tried to manage, however, more likely to avoid, to prevent overgrazing and overexploitation of water resources. Rendille, Borana and Gabbra were only welcome if they were farmers and brought only a certain number of animals. The name is from Marsabit Amharic Marsa -operation, "House of Marsa ," his derived.


The population of the district of Marsabit in 1929 estimated at 10,399, of which just 2 % in place Marsabit were established. Despite the restrictive policies of the colonial government were living in 1958 already 2038 people settled on Mount Marsabit, around 7 % of the district population. By 1969 - after the independence of Kenya - the number of inhabitants had tripled. In the 1960s, lived approximately 10% of the district population at Mount Marsabit, in the 1970s, these were 15 %, 21% in the 1980s and in the 1990s still around 21 %. This increase is related to droughts in the 1970s, which led to large livestock losses and moved former ranchers to settle down. Furthermore, immigrants came from the northern neighboring Ethiopia, which were also affected by the drought, as well as political turmoil and civil war. In part supported humanitarian organizations, the establishment of these people in rural villages. The completion of the road connection from Nairobi to Addis Ababa continued to accelerate the growth of Marsabit.

Today ( 2005) is home to around 30,000 people in the town of Marsabit and the surrounding villages in the mountains. Live on the south side of the mountain especially Rendille and Samburu, on the north side of a heterogeneous population of Borana, Gabbra, Waata, Konso, Burji, Sakuye, Garre and Sidama. In the city can be increasingly Kenyans from other parts of the country down, about as employees of international organizations who provide development assistance in the region. The mountain is made ​​partly as Marsabit National Park under protection.


Mud hut in a small village near Marsabit

Typical street scene