From the outset it appears to be a life without calendars and deadlines, however the Samburu live in a cycle dictated by their environment and followed with regimental precision. An example of this can be seen in the precisely organised structure of the Soko market system.
In Samburuland word travels fast over the vast bush telegraph, however day to day life is fairly remote, with families living in manyattas and most social contact coming from individuals passing through.
The Samburu are well known for the strength of their warriors, but the little known silent strength of the mamas are the driving force behind society.
Each area in Samburuland has their NGAMITONI, which means Matriarch. This is a mama that leads the women and her community with incredible strength. This word originated from the way Samburu talk about Elephant. The literal translation is ‘the leader of the elephants controls the rest when moving’.
While the morani hold the strength of the cattle and lead battles, and the elders lead the direction of the community, the mamas hold the manyattas and children, they run everything at the community level.
A mama is a mother, a married woman with children, effectively the female equivalent of a moran. Their immense strength binds their community together and drives it along.
It’s not easy being a mama, they shoulder the majority of domestic work, often including difficult labor. However in a western sense it’s not easy being any Samburu. To us it’s a life of hard work but to them it’s their lifestyle, one with immense payoff.