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25
Feb

Ch. 35: Day in the life of a Mama

 

We want to show everyone what it’s like to be one of the Mamas in our bead workshop. Our mamas live a tough life, one that they love, and in times of harsh drought when running a manyatta things can become extremely difficult.

So when we’re able to assist them by work together on beaded items using their incredible bead and colour skills, it can take a lot of pressure off them.

 

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Dermeras comes to Ol Malo to bead with us. Her children are all enrolled in our Nomad Schools on the ranch so they all come together each morning.

 

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A day will always start in the manyatta with hot, sweet tea made from cow, goat, or camel’s milk.

 

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Shortly after dawn the livestock are sent out with some of her older children who will spend the day grazing and protecting them.

 

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In times of severe drought her husband may have to take the cattle far away to look for pasture.

 

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In these times a manyatta can become very lean, with no milk and very little to live off. The extreme drought of 1999 is why we started our bead workshop, to provide responsible relief for these mamas and their children, who were malnourished and in danger of sickness.

 

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Dermeras and her kids meet up with another mama from a manyatta close by, who is coming into the workshop with her kids.

 

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Waiting for stragglers

 

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Arriving at the primary school

 

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All the kids waiting on the wall for their teacher to arrive

 

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The teacher cruises in!

 

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All kids do morning exercises before school to get their bodies and their brains working

 

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The older kids stay up at the top school while the rest of the group continues on down to the daycare and workshop

 

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Arriving at the daycare, a school for the younger kids

 

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The kids mill about waiting for their teacher to tell them they can go to the playground

 

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And they’re off!

 

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The playground is all made from found wood, with a huge jungle gym and a swing for two

 

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Meanwhile the mamas start their work

 

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All beading is done by hand with traditional materials and ancient techniques

 

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Today they are working on a new design with leather and beads.

 

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When it comes to midday another mama is making lunch for all the school kids, and all beading mamas too

 

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All the kids come down and have their lunch before heading back home in the hot sun

 

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_____________________________________

 
If you wish to help
 
Please get in touch with us at info@samburutrust.org or make contact with Sam (US) or Alun (UK)

also check out our donate page to donate online.

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3
26
Oct

CH.25: LORORA AND CLAN STRUCTURE

A Lorora is a clan manyatta, where members of a particular clan amongst the Samburu meet and settle for a short while either for protection during times of tribal fighting or to celebrate rites of passage for its members young and old.

A Lorora can have up to 300 houses in it, so many that the women often forget where to find their home and the children get lost in the maze of houses. The layout of homes begins with the oldest family within the clan, moving in a clockwise direction outwards. The Samburu relate this to the structure of a cow; beginning with the head (the first families) moving down the back with houses of families, and finishing with the tail.

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30
Aug

CH.22: MAMA FASHION

For morani, fashion is a signifier of beauty and strength, and for mamas, the married women of the Samburu, this is even moreso.

A mama will spend her life in an intense system of hard work and triumph against the odds, not just surviving but exceeding in a challenging environment with finesse and grace.

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13
Aug

CH.21: GROWING UP IN SAMBURULAND

Being a kid in Samburuland is like no other childhood.

To be young is to follow strict rules in a loving family environment. There are many eyes watching you with making sure you are learning and behaving. There’s lots of time with grandparents and aunties and uncles and cousins, endless singing and dancing. It’s a rich world of storytelling.

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25
Jul

CH.19: RUTORE – FOOD

Traditionally the Samburu will have lived off milk and animal blood alone.

Their diet consists of elements that are totally volatile to other cultures, yet they perfectly balance within the extremes of their environment.

Their animals are their only dependable energy source, and would provide everything they need, because of this their welfare is the sole priority in everyday life.

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4
9
Jul

CH.18: SOKO – THE MARKET

The Samburu live life over long distances.

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.

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4
25
Apr

CH.11: LPAYANI – THE ELDERS


1. an elder from the lkimankiki age group, the most senior of the elders, wearing his ceremonial earrings and beads during a coming of age ceremony

The Elders lead the Samburu with their great wisdom.

While the morani lead by protecting the cattle, the decisions are made by the elders in their ability to interpret the ever-changing environment in which they live.

To understand the elders we have to understand a little about Samburu age groups. A moran becomes a junior elder when his generation’s time protecting the tribe is over and they are allowed to find wives and settle down.

More

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12
Apr

CH.9: MAMAS – THE MATRIARCH

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.

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4
Apr

CH.8: MORANI – WARRIORS

The warriors are one of the most fascinating aspects of the Samburu.

Their fashion, their battles, their status is so interesting for many people that when looking at the Samburu the morani are all they can see. People are drawn to them.

In society the morani are revered and secretive. Their sole purpose is to protect the sacred cattle, so by association they are revered as demi-gods. Their influence in society is massive; they drive the boundaries of the land, increasing the grazing and protect them for the tribe.

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29
Feb

CH.3: A DAY IN A MANYATTA

A day in Talis’ manyatta starts before dawn.

The fire inside the house has been stoked periodically all night and it’s built up again at dawn to make sweet sweet chai. This is delicious Kenyan tea boiled in goat, camel, or cow’s milk with numerous spoons of sugar in every cup.

It’s the great Samburu social pastime, in most houses this is the one time of day a family will get to spend together alone. Many cups of chai are consumed first thing to build up a good sugar high that will last you through the day until your one meal in the evening.

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22
Feb

CH.2: WHAT IS A MANYATTA?

A manyatta is a Samburu home.

It’s a modular style of architecture that follows a few basic rules to keep families and their livestock safe.

Manyattas (ie enclosures, walls and shelters) have minimal impact on the environment and can be built in a day, while houses take between one and two weeks. The Samburu are semi-nomadic so they might stay in one manyatta for months at a time, and then get up in the morning and pack it all up and leave.

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