The Samburu People in Samburu National Reserve

The Samburu People in Samburu National Reserve : Samburu National Reserve is a game reserve on the banks of the Ewaso Ngiro river in Kenya. The reserve is 165 km2 in size and is situated 350 kilometres from Nairobi, it ranges in altitude from 800 to 1230 m above the sea level. Samburu national reserve is a unique wildlife conservation haven famous for abundance of rare species of animals such as the Grevy zebra, Somali Ostrich, Reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk and the Beisa Oryx, also the reserve is a home to a population of close to 900 elephants.

The Samburu People.

The Samburu people are the Nilotic people of north-central Kenya. Samburu are semi-nomadic pastoralists who herd mainly cattle but also keep other animals like the sheep, goats and camels. The name they use for themselves is Lokop or Loikop, a term which may have a variety of meanings which Samburu themselves do not a gree on. The Samburu are a sub-tribe of the Maasai, and they speak their own dialect of the Maa language. They are known for their additionality life style, which includes religious beliefs, and tribal clothing all largely unchanged to western influences, the Samburu people have a population of approximately 150,000.

Samburu’s are known to have originated from Sudan, settling north of Mount Kenya and south of Lake Turkana in Kenya’s Rift valley area. Upon their arrival in Kenya in the 15th century, the Samburu parted ways with their Maasai cousins, who moved further south the Samburu moved north. Traditionally the Samburu believed in one God (Nkai), though the reside in nature, making offerings and prayers important for rainfall and livestock. Diviners (Laibon) were believed to communicate with the spirits through dreams and trances, the Samburu People in Samburu National Reserve.

The Samburu are highly dependent on their livestock for survival, their diet comprises mostly on milk and occasionally blood from their cows. The blood is accrued by slightly cutting the jugular of the cow, and draining the blood into a cup. The wound is then promptly sealed with hot ash. Meat is only served on special occasions The Samburu people’s diet is also supplemented with vegetables, roots and tubers that are made into a soup.

Traditional Samburu Culture.

Samburu County is mostly dry barren land, and the Samburu tribe have   to relocate to be certain their cattle have enough food.

The Samburu People in Samburu National Reserve
Samburu People

 The Samburu people every few weeks the tribe will change location to find fresh grazing grounds. Huts are constructed using hide, mud and grass mats strung over poles, fence is built around the mud huts for protecting from the wild animals. The Samburu tribe settlements are called manyattas. The Samburu usually dwell in groups of five to ten families, traditionally Samburu men look after their cattle and they are also responsible for the over all safety of the tribe.

Samburu women are responsible for gathering vegetables and roots, caring for their children and collecting water. Samburu girls usually help their mothers with the domestic chores. The Samburu are a gerontocracy the elders rule the tribe. It is the elders that decide when ceremonies will occur, such as weddings and circumcisions. Entry into womanhood and manhood is marked with a circumcisions ceremony. Men and women are only able to get married once they have been circumcised, as prior to that they are still considered as children. Once a boy has been circumcised he is now considered a Moran (a warrior). The men are placed into age sets, and as a group move from one social position to another. From child to Moran, to junior elder and finally to elder.

The traditional dress of the Samburu tribe most of the men and all the women wear very colourful and traditional attires, often based on red and white, that is a striking red cloth wrapped like a skirt and a white sash. This is a droned with many colourful beaded earnings, bracelets, anklets and necklaces. Each piece of jewellery worn represents the status of the wearer, The Samburu People in Samburu National Reserve.

Dancing is a significant part of the Samburu culture. Their dancing is similar to that of the Massai people with men dancing in a circle and jumping high from a standing position. Traditionally, the Samburu have not used any instruments to accompany their dancing and singing.

The Samburu Today.

Just like the Maasai tribe, the Samburu people are under pressure from their government to settle into more permanent villages. They have resisted this proposal thus far, since a permanent settlement would disrupt their entire way of life. And it will be difficult to grow and maintain crops on a permanent site.

Tall, very intelligent, and sensitive, the Samburu have learnt how to survive on a very difficult and today are among the pioneers of eco-tourism in Kenya. Like the Kalama community, many other communities believe that the group ranches that they own can provide an income as wildlife sanctuaries. The Samburu guides and trackers know this land inside-out and will take on a journey of discovery through it.

Visiting the Samburu.

The Samburu live in a very beautiful, sparsely populated part of Kenya with abundant wildlife. Much of the land is now protected and community development initiatives have extended to eco-friendly African lodges jointly run by the Samburu. As a visitor, the best way to get to know the Samburu is to stay at a community run lodge, or enjoy a walking or camel safari with the Samburu guides.

The Basic Samburu Greetings.

Good morning – Serian iteperia.

Good afternoon –Serian itumumutie mpar.

Good evening  -Serian etunye swon.

Hello – Kejua.

Good bye -ikidua.

The Samburu are very strongly connected to their traditions and culture, the Samburu are one of the most famous and interesting tribe in Kenya. Closely related to the Maasai and speakers of aversion of the Maa language (Maasai and the Samburu understand each other perfectly well, even if they smile about each other’s accents and tuns phrases), they are believed to have reached Kenya between four and five centuries ago with other Nilotic groups walking south from the Horn of Africa.

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