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TRIBES & PEOPLE GROUPS
The Samburu are related to the Masai although
they live just above the equator where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into
the northern desert and slightly south of Lake Turkana in the Rift Valley
Province of Kenya.
They are semi-nomadic pastoralists
whose lives revolve around their cows, sheep, goats, and camels. Milk is their
main stay; sometimes it is mixed with blood. Meat is only eaten on special
occasions. Generally they make soups from roots and barks and eat vegetables if
living in an area where they can be grown.
Most dress in very
traditional clothing of bright red material used like a skirt and multi-beaded
necklaces, bracelets and earrings, especially when living away from the big
The Samburu developed from one of the later Nilotic migrations
from the Sudan, as part of the Plains Nilotic movement. The broader grouping of
the Maa-speaking people continued moving south, possibly under the pressure of
the Borana expansion into their plains. Maa-speaking peoples have lived and
fought from Mt. Elgon to Malindi and down the Rift Valley into Tanzania. The
Samburu are in an early settlement area of the Maa group.
moved on south, however (called Maasai), have retained a more purely nomadic
lifestyle until recently when they have also begun farming. The expanding
Turkana ran into the Samburu around 1700 when they began expanding north and
The language of the Samburu people is
also called Samburu. It is a Maa language very close to the Maasai dialects.
Linguists have debated the distinction between the Samburu and Maasai languages
Generally between five and ten families set up
encampments for five weeks and then move on to new pastures. Adult men care for
the grazing cattle which are the major source of livelihood. Women are in
charge of maintaining the portable huts, milking cows, obtaining water and
gathering firewood. Their houses are of plastered mud or hides and grass mats
stretched over a frame of poles. A fence of thorns surrounds each family's
cattle yard and huts.
Their society has for long been so organized
around cattle and warfare (for defense and for raiding others) that they find
it hard to change to a more limited lifestyle. The purported benefits of modern
life are often undesirable to the Samburu. They remain much more traditional in
life and attitude than their Maasai cousins.
Duties of boys and girls
are clearly delineated. Boys herd cattle and goats and learn to hunt, defending
the flocks. Girls fetch water and wood and cook. Both boys and girls go through
an initiation into adulthood, which involves training in adult responsibilities
and circumcision for boys and clitoridectomy for girls.
click to read more ....
||African Warriors : The
An intimate, sometimes striking photo-essay detailing the
folkways of the Samburu, a warrior-based society of northern Kenya. The author
lived among the Samburu for six years, recording the daily rhythms and
significant ceremonies of this traditional culture, whose members depend on
herds of cattle, goats, and camels for their survival.
(amazon.com) - USA (amazon.co.uk) - UK
Samburu - People Profile