Yaaku People derived their name Yaaku “hunting people” from their hunting lifestyle. The name Yaaku in Yakunte language means “hunting people”. They also keep bees but later began trading with the Maasai, the country’s largest pastoral people.
The Yaaku were later assimilated into the dominant pastoralist tribe of the Maasai in the 1920’s. Today the Yaaku are often considered a subgroup of the Masai and are not officially recognized as one of Kenya’s 42 ethnic groups. Yakunte is one of six languages in Kenya that have been classified as extinct by UNESCO.
The Yaaku are believed to have migrated from Ethiopia to Kenya, where they settled in the Mukogodo forest, west of Mount Kenya, more than 100 years ago. The name “Mukogodo” is a yakunte language term meaning people who live in rocks. Yaaku people have been believed to be living in rocks and caves.
Caves are classified in terms of size and geological positioning. Tilpipi is the Yiaku name for a cave by a water stream that currently is occupied by hyenas but ancestrally habited by people.
In some instances, the area has twin caves with an underground cave (Taapai) and upper cave (Tiir-loo). Paidong is a large cave for under ten members and heads of cattle and goats.
Onyimar is a cave that can accommodate a family of up to 20 to 30 members, made possible by the polygamous practice of the Yiaku community, a herd of goats and sheep, and about 2 honey reservoirs (iitaamai) for storing honey especially during drought.
Keeminy tambi is a large cave with a door at its entrance.