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.

Background on Samburu Culture

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Written by Umoja   
Monday, 09 July 2012 13:27

Lifestyle
The Samburu are a distinct ethnic group in Northern Kenya. Samburu County is 21,000 square kilometers with a population of about 300,000. They speak Samburu, which is closely related to Maa, the language of the Masai. They believe in one God who is manifest in all things in nature, however many simultaneously practice Christianity and attend church regularly. Many are nomadic and move periodically in order to find new pastures for their livestock (such as cattle, goats and camels). These animals are the primary source of income for Samburu people. As such, their main diet consists of blood, milk, and meat.

The Samburu live in manyattas, which are traditional villages comprised of several huts made of palm leaves, wood, and roofs of cow dung. Samburu society is divided along generational lines. For example, single sex groupings of youths close in age undergo rites of passage, such as circumcision, together. Circumcision continues to be an important marker of the transition into adulthood for both boys and girls. Once a boy is circumcised he becomes a moran, a warrior. Morans are responsible for protecting the community and its livestock. Once all the morans in an age set have married, they are considered elders, the power-holders of the community. For girls, circumcision marks their eligibility for marriage and for childbirth, though unlike boys they have no say in their choice of spouse. Samburu men may also marry multiple wives. While women do gain some increased status once they have born children, they still lack many significant rights, such as the right to inherit property. Elder women with circumcised boys do enjoy a measure of independence, and so more often engage in small business endeavours, but a lack of education and business acumen, as well as transportation, often constrains their success.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 20 December 2014 23:43
 
Only women are allowed to live in Umoja. Julie Bindel visits the Kenyan village that began as a refuge for survivors of sexual violence – and discovers its inhabitants are thriving in the single-sex community .
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