Samburu women, Samburu, Kenya. Canon EOS-10D, EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS

The Samburu

The Samburu, a Maa-speaking people and close cousins of the Maasai, live mainly in the north of Kenya between Lake Turkana and Ewaso Ngiro River. The Samburu tell visitors a story of how long ago, two brothers parted ways at the foot of Mount Kenya, each taking half of the cattle and half of the goats. One turned north and founded the Samburu people, the other south and the Maasai. This story is apocryphal to be sure, but the cultural similarities are apparent.

Like the Maasai, the Samburu are mainly pastoralists. They graze cattle and goats over wide areas of sparse desert land. Their lifestyle has not changed very much over hundreds of years. The live in low, windowless huts plastered with mud and cattle dung (a good insulator we are told), and survive on livestock, which is their form of wealth. They are a polygamous society, with the men able to take several wives after completing their duty to the clan as moran, or warriors.

The Samburu impressed us with their hardiness. They suffer many hardships with quiet dignity. At the time of our visit, it had not rained for over a year. The village we visited was near the Ewaso Ngiro river, a breeding ground of crocodiles. The very day we were there, a young child who had been tending goats by the river was badly mauled by a crocodile.

Unlike the Maasai, the Samburu have historically not adopted a warlike or aggressive stance towards other tribes. Nevertheless, one would not not want to tangle with Samburu murrani!

 

Samburu boys at play, Samburu, Kenya. Canon EOS-10D, EF 16-35 f/2.8L, 550EX.

 

Samburu warrior, Canon EOS-10D, EF 50 f/1.4, 550EX

 

Samburu warriors, Samburu, Kenya. Kenya. Canon EOS-10D, EF 16-35 f/2.8L, 550EX.

 

Samburu women doing a traditional dance, Samburu, Kenya. Kenya. Canon EOS-10D, EF 16-35 f/2.8L.

 

Samburu boy, Samburu, Kenya. Kenya. Canon EOS-10D, EF 50 f/1.4

 

Scarification, Samburu warrior, Samburu, Kenya. Kenya. Canon EOS-10D,
EF 50 f/1.4.

 

Young boy, Samburu, Kenya. Kenya. Canon EOS-10D, EF 50 f/1.4