PERREAULT Magazine NOV | DEC 2016 - Page 60

There is something very butterfly-like about the Samburu. The young warriors appear strikingly effeminate, almost fragile in their slenderness.

The Samburu people live just north of the equator in the Rift Valley province of Northern Kenya, where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into the northern desert. Independent and egalitarian people, the Samburu are much more traditional then the Masaai.

Neighboring tribes, admiring the beauty of these people, called them Samburu, which is said to translate to butterfly. The Samburu, however, refer to themselves as the Lokop or Loikop.

The Rift Valley province in Kenya is a dry, somewhat barren land, and the Samburu live a nomadic lifestyle to ensure their cattle can feed. Every five to six weeks the group will move to find fresh grazing grounds.

Their huts are built from mud, hide and grass mats strung over poles, and they build a thorny fence around their huts for protection from wild animals, usually living in groups of five to ten families.

Traditionally men look after the cattle and are also responsible for the safety of the tribe. As warriors they defend the tribe from attack by both man and animals. Samburu boys learn to tend cattle from a young age and are also taught to hunt. An initiation ceremony to mark their entry into manhood is accompanied by circumcision.

Samburu women are in charge of gathering roots and vegetables, tending to the children and collecting water. They are also in charge of maintaining their homes. Samburu girls generally help their mothers with the domestic chores, and entry into womanhood is also marked with a circumcision ceremony.