Circumcision Ceremony


( Pictured boys … Ntoros enkila narok…from bendera below is among the selected ones going tomorrow to nyiro for the killing of the ritual bull.)

Circumcision of new age set is slated to be officiated by the killing of Bull .. Lmongo oduung laaji ,which will be on the even days of this moon / month .

The Samburu social set up is made of age grades according to the stages of growth of an individual and the related social responsibilities.

The grades are;

1) Nkerai (child),

2) Layeni (uncircumcised boy) ,

3)Lmurrani (Warrior), and finally the grade of

4) Lpayan (elder).

Circumcision (Muratare) is the beginning of adulthood responsibilities.

For Layiok it means to be warriors to defend the society and to build a herd for the future family.

After closing the previous age-set with the ilmuget, there is a sizeable number of candidates waiting to be circumcised into the succeeding age-set. Normally, the elders take a considerable time before a new age-


The Samburu people usually got a unique way of recording exact warriors at a given age set by use of cowrie shell sewn on a special skin of sacred oxen that anoints , an age set leader (/Launoni ) and his assistance (/Labaru Nkeene ).

High number of Samburus have not attained formal education , hence employed their own unique indigenous way of records keeping method.

The culture of documenting the population of the community warriors is a valued practice. In the absence of books to write down their identities , indigenous knowledge comes in handy .

Using cowrie shell stitched on the thong cut ( Nkeene ) from the bull chest , which make it easy to establish their population at any given time.

Something similar to central bureau of statics maintain an accurate figure of the Moran’s in a particular clan.

The Samburu have eight clans who are spread across four counties Samburu, Marsabit, Isiolo and Laikipia .

Cowrie shell ‘ Sikira ‘ help in keeping accurate records . Every mother to a Moran is required to bring two cowrie shells which are stitched to the skin ( Nkeene ) to represent his son.

The mother of one of the leaders anointed on the material day ( Lmuget lenkarna ) more so assistance ( Labaru Nkeene ) of a particular age set keeps the stitched cowrie shell thong ( Nkeene )/strapped along a special kudu horn ( Mowuo ) safely throughout the morans rite of passage.

It is constantly cleaned and sheep fat smeared as a way of preservation.

In case a Moran pass on , his cowrie shells are removed and thrown away to maintain exact warriors population .

When the warriors marries , a ceremony is later held known as Adee mowuo .. Official removal of the cowrie shells, hence each takes away the cowrie shells and handover to their wife , who will use them to make bracelet for their first born.

© Leadekei AloisImage may contain: one or more people

Samburu FairyTales(Nkatini)

Nang’are nkurle…naipakupaku.najoki ana tito paanyo nikinyia,loworu etadale le ng’iro nkeperr..etumuta lchekuti naitoki nkishu neitoki loracha racha nkesene…surua lang oigero…tarapu njore..tarapu etara njuo etara nkijepe..nkararai nkeju naishima wuata.
Ng’oooto laria..nairria mulugo..nemeitieu atejo nesusul ara…..oi ale kila lai lekerra onana..labayie eirishunye sokoni lpapit…nalotu eirishunye ale muoruo lmunyei..ale munyei eisamiz bore nkaturiak…nebore nkula endia neti ne nkerai..nkitikit ake ebol nejo lngenche rrwaa,nekwetiki ntariang ejo sagaram,ntaariang akiti mara sagaram


Typically and traditionally, Samburu people use no instruments or even drums in their songs and dances.

Samburu don’t have musical instruments. Percussion of their sticks, clubs, spears, clapping of hands and effective use of the human voice to produces the unique songs and dances

From the haunting Lebarta, that stirs deep emotions to Mparinkoi that is the samburu Anthem.

They have dances for various occasions of life. But no matter what the occasion, the men primarily dance by jumping. A high vertical jumping from a standing position like a competitive sport.

Most dances involve the men and women dancing in separate circles with specific moves for each sex, while still coordinating the moments of the two groups.

The central musical theme of the dances is a deep reverberating male vocal sound, a rhythmic chanting hauntingly similar to the territorial call of a lion.

Warriors move with a series of astonishing vertical leaps (Ariik Maasani), fiercely encouraged the shouts of other vocal observing warriors while the ladies bounce, flip and swirl their magnificent collars of beads.

Samburu Rainy Seasons


1:SOMISO OIBORR- Short rainy period which may occur in February.

2: SOMISO OROK: -Short rainy period which may occur in March.

3: NKOKUAI/NKAKWAI- Short rainy period which may occur in the month of June coinciding with the appearance of the Pleiades ( nkakua).

4:RRURRUME:- A short rainy period which may occur in late December and it rains for only two days.


1: LNG’ERNG’ERUA – The name of long rainy period which starts in the month of March until the end of the month of May.

2:LORIKINE: It is the name of the long rainy season which begins in the months of June and ends in the month of August.

3: LTUMUREN:- Is the name of long rains which falls in the months of October, November and December.

NOTE: Of these three long rains periods we the Samburu people consider “LTUMUREN” as a female rain , because it displays some characteristics that are proper to women. As a matter of fact it rains in torrents with long peals of thunder and alot of striking lightning that creates countless of troubles. The other two rainy periods ( LORIKINE, AND LNG’ERNG’ERUA) are considered as male rains because the rains does not come so heavy , the lightnings are weak and the sound of thunders is compared to that of the warriors. . According to the Samburu way of thinking these two periods of rain are the most blessed time for an old man to die.

If it happens that an old man dies during the period of “LTUMUREN” people feel quite baffled and are not satisfied until they find a reasonable explanation for its cause.

Woman's Day.

A woman in Samburu is the heart of a family. They believe that a family without a woman is”Dead”. However, in the past and even still now, women in Samburu have no rights to many things. They could not stand in front of Men and give their opinions. In short their opinions doesn’t count.

Education was mostly for Boychild, Girls were to be married and form their own family. They arrange marriagesto them. They are victims of FGM.

But thanks to the few people who are making all these change. Educated girls are giving back to the Community. We celebrate all Women around the world.



The Samburu women both of the past and the presence are the icon of our community. Besides their striking beauty, they are women of excellence and deserves double respect and recognition.

We are because they were. Apart from bringing up their young children and caring their husbands our mothers were kind to strangers. They portrayed great hospitality and generosity. They served the community as midwives to ensure the safety of the newborn baby and the mother.

Our great grandmothers were virtuous in character. They guided and adviced the young women , looked after young children and at night entertained them with stories which plays a great role in teaching morals.

These women of excellence were industrious besides their household chores they were shepherds even while pregnant .Some of them even gave birth while away from home looking after animals or fetching water and firewood.

HUMILITY is their strength although some people mistake it as their weakness.They highly respect their dear husbands. They love unity and team work. You can see them helping one another to build a house , going to fetch water, collect firewood and gather wild fruits together.

During ceremonies they play a great part , making calabashes, cloaks, houses etc. Whenever there is a celebration they make sure they take milk to make it successful.

Growing up in Samburu was the best thing that ever happened to me!

Yes Dreams are valid!!! Who even thought or imagine that the girl in green and red uniform can ever see beyond her Mama’s Manyatta? At least I have something to show my children in future. I went to school without shoes. I lived in a wooden house called Manyatta(Smoky), every weekend I took care of my Parent’s sheep, we were a group of 4 girls and we hunt whenever we are in the forest. Life was so beautiful and simple. All we saw around us was nature. We liked hunting Gazelles and Rabbits (hehehe you are only allowed to drink rabbit’s soup when you have a chest problem in my culture lol), shhhhh don’t tell my Dad I did. It’s not that we were poor I mean to do all these, it’s simply because I come from a humble community known as Samburu who see nothing beyond the nature. Perhaps that’s why my little boy is so attached to the culture. Am gonna teach my kids the roots and culture. I might be in Europe, but my Culture lives in me forever.

Samburu as a People,Culture and Destination

Samburu People

Samburu are a Nilotic people of Northern Central Kenya that are related to but distinct from the Maasai. Samburu are Semi-nomadic pastrolists who hard mainly Cattles, Sheep, Goats and Camels. According to the other 41 tribes in Kenya, the Samburu means Butterfly People. They live North of the Equator in Samburu District.



Samburu Culture

Samburu despite all the Western Culture that invades in the Country is among the few tribes that still keep their culture.



The Samburu believe in God(Nkai). They believe that Nkai is the Source of protection from the hazards of their existence. They also believe that Nkai dwells in places like Mountains, Caves and some other Sources of Nature.

They believe that God is Omnipresent,and they respect every creature believing that God is present in them. They believe that God works with some special people and forces of nature to communicate with them.

They have ritual Diviners called “Loibonok”, who divine the causes of personal illnesses and misfortunes. They offer Sacrifices which is performed by the Elders to their God. They use their animals for the sacrifices.

Despite the conversion of the Missionaries to the people of Samburu as predominantly Catholics, and other protestant Christianity, the majority of the Samburu still observe most of their rituals.


Social organization

The Samburu are a gerontocracy. The power of elders is linked to the belief in their curse, underpinning their monopoly over arranging marriages and taking on further wives. This is at the expense of unmarried younger men, whose development up to the age of thirty is in a state of social suspension, prolonging their adolescent status. The paradox of Samburu gerontocracy is that popular attention focuses on the glamour and deviant activities of these footloose bachelors, which extend to a form of gang feuding between clans, widespread suspicions of covert adultery with the wives of older men, and theft of their stock.[2]


The Samburu are part of the Maa speaking people as are the Maasai. About 95% of the words of both languages are the same. The name ‘Samburu’ is also of Maasai origin and is derived from the word ‘Samburr’ which is a leather bag used by the Samburu to carry a variety of things. It is unclear when Samburu became a distinct ethnic identity. As is common in many places around the world, ethnic identities became fixed and defined at the point of colonial contact. 19th century European travellers often referred to Samburu as “Burkineji” (people of the white goats), and there are many interconnections with other neighboring ethnic groups.


Traditionally the Samburu economy was purely pastoral, striving to survive off the products of their herds of cows, goats, and for some, camels. However, the combination of a significant growth in population over the past 60 years and a decline in their cattle holdings has forced them to seek other supplemental forms of livelihood. Some have attempted to grow crops, while many young men have migrated for at least short periods to cities to seek wage work. Many work in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, as watchmen, while it is also popular to go to Kenya’s coastal resorts where some work; others sell spears and beaded ornaments.


Samburu practice polygynous marriage, and a man may have multiple wives. A Samburu settlement is known as a nkang (Maa) or manyatta (Kiswahili). It may consist of only one family, composed of a man and his wife/wives. Each woman has her own house, which she builds with the help of other women out of local materials, such as sticks, mud and cow dung. Large ritual settlements, known as lorora may consist of 20 or more families. However, settlements tend towards housing two or three families, with perhaps 5-6 houses built in a rough circle with an open space in the centre. The circle of houses is surrounded by an acacia thorn bush fence and the center of the village has the animal pens away from predators.

Food and Society

Traditionally Samburu relied almost solely on their herds, although trade with their neighbors and use of wild foods were also important.[5][6][7] Before the colonial period, cow, goat, and sheep milk was the daily staple. Oral and documentary evidence suggests that small stock were significant to the diet and economy at least from the eighteenth century forward. In the twenty-first century, cattle and small stock continue to be essential to the Samburu economy and social system. Milk is still a valued part of Samburu contemporary diet when available, and may be drunk either fresh, or fermented; “ripened” milk is often considered superior. Meat from cattle is eaten mainly on ceremonial occasions, or when a cow happens to die. Meat from small stock is eaten more commonly, though still not on a regular basis. Today Samburu rely increasingly on purchased agricultural products—with money acquired mainly from livestock sales—and most commonly maize meal is made into a porridge.[8] Tea is also very common, taken with large quantities of sugar and (when possible) much milk, and is actually a staple of contemporary Samburu diet.[9] Blood is both taken from living animals, and collected from slaughtered ones. There are at least 13 ways that blood can be prepared, and may form a whole meal. Some Samburu these days have turned to agriculture, with varying results.

In Western popular culture

Samburu have been widely portrayed in popular culture, ranging from Hollywood movies, major television commercials, and mainstream journalism. Such portrayals make good use of Samburu’s colorful cultural traditions, but sometimes at the expense of accuracy. One of the earlier film appearances by Samburu was in the 1953 John Ford classic Mogambo, in which they served as background for stars such as Clark Gable, Grace Kelly and Ava Gardner.[13]

In the 1990s, 300 Samburu traveled to South Africa to play opposite Kevin Bacon in the basketball comedy The Air Up There, in which Samburu are portrayed as a group called “The Wonaabe” whose prince is a potential hoops star who would propel Bacon to a college head coaching job. Samburu extras were used to portray members of the closely related, but better known, Maasai ethnic group as in the film The Ghost and the Darkness, starring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer.[14] The 2005 film The White Masai—about a Swiss woman falling in love with a Samburu man—similarly conflates the two ethnic groups, mainly because the authors and directors believed that no one would have heard of Samburu.

Dancing Samburu were included in a MasterCard commercial. Samburu runners were famously misportrayed in a late 1980s Nike commercial, in which a Samburu murran’s words were translated into English as the Nike slogan “Just Do It.” This was corrected by anthropologist Lee Cronk, who seeing the commercial alerted Nike and the media that the Samburu murran was saying “I don’t want these. Give me big shoes.” Nike, in explaining the error, admitted to having improvised the dialogue and stated “we thought nobody in America would know what he said.”[15]

A similar lack of understanding of traditions and cultural dynamics is sometimes exhibited in misrepresentations by mainstream media who write articles in popular news outlets after only a short time among Samburu. For instance, CNN portrayed the Samburu practice of young men giving a large number of beads to a young woman as tantamount to rape, and erroneously stated that no research exists on the tradition[16] despite the fact that anthropological portrayals based on long-term studies show it to be largely akin to the U.S. practice of “going steady.”[17][18] In a 2009 article MSNBC took readers on a tour through imaginary places purported to be in Samburu District, while asserting that ethnic conflict between Samburu and the neighboring Pokot was the result of both sides starving because they had more cattle than the rangelands could support, although the reporter did not indicate how having too many cattle could make people starve.[19]