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The Samburu are a distinct ethnic group in Northern Kenya. Samburu district is 21,000 square kilometers with a population of 167,000. 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.

About Umoja Uaso Women Group

In 1990, 15 women formed and registered the Umoja Uaso Women's Group with the then Ministry of Culture, Heritage and Social Services to address these issues. They started by selling beadwork and other goods. After facing threats from men jealous of their success, the members decided to found a women-only village and reside together.

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