Samburu Tribe-Tribu Samburu

It took almost two hours to live Nairobi traffic on October 14, in the way to Thika to then go around Mount Kenya, to Embu, Meru and then Isiolo were our guide Benjamin find us; that is one of the last towns before going to Marsabit in the way to Ethiopia or Wajir in the way to Somalia. This once lawless north of Kenya was known as the Northern Frontier District, where no one was able to get in without any permit; this was around the time of independence.

Tomó cerca de dos horas dejar atrás el tráfico de Nairobi rumbo al norte al pueblo conocido como Thika, para después ir alrededor del Monte Kenia hacia Embu, Meru y luego Isiolo donde nuestro guia Benjamin nos encontró. Isiolo es un pueblo fronterizo y casi el último antes de llegar a Marsabit en el camino a Etiopia o Wajir llendo hacia Somalia. Esta fué una region sin ley en el norte de Kenia y era conocida un poco después de la Independencia como el Distrito de la Frontera Norte, nadie podia entrar sin permiso.

Still this proud and closed people had their guns hidden on the bushes, mostly AK-47’s that they use to ride and steal herds from the northern tribal groups. They look at this as a matching game, sometimes they loose some cattle and friends in the fighting, later they take revenge on those people.

Todavía esta gente orgullosa y cerrada tiene escondidas sus armas en los arbustos para cuando es necesario sacar sus rifles AK-47, para defenderse de gentes tribales del norte que les roba el ganado, matando algunos en el camino. Ellos ven esto de una manera natural, como un juego de pelota en donde algunas veces ellos pierden algunas cabezas de ganado y algunos amigos, pero después es el turno de ellos para tomar venganza.

As this far away lands are located at the north of the Ecuator it is a desert area, according with one of the oral traditions on the village of “Namaiyana” who can be translated as the “Blessing Village” where I spent three nights and four days after being “invited,” for a mere 10,000 KSh. There were two brothers with a bag of meat, at one point of their migration they fought and divided the meat in two. One brother stayed close to the Uaso Nyiro River (meaning “brown water” and pronounced U-aa-so-Nyee-ro). And the other brother went south forming what is known as the “Maasai Tribe,” at the border with Tanzania.

Como estas tierras tan lejanas estan situadas al norte del Ecuador es una área mayormente desertica; de acuerdo a las tradiciones orales de la villa “Namaiyana” que se puede traducir como la “Villa de la Bendición” donde me quede por tres noches y cuatro dias; después de ser invitado por 10,000 Ksh. Hubo dos hermanos con una bolsa de carne y en algún punto de su migración pelearon y se dividieron la carne de la bolsa en dos. Uno de los hermanos se quedo cerca del rio Uaso Nyiro (que significa agua café) y el otro hermano se fué hacia el sur formando la Tribu “Maasai” en la frontera sur con Tanzania.


The baked sun is on my head warming up the withe quartz on the floor so really gets hot and dusty. El sol quema desde arriba calentando todas las piedras blancas que son cuarzo, se pone muy caliente y polvoriento.

They are semi-nomadic pastoralists whose lives revolve around their cows, sheep, goats. Milk is their main stay; sometimes it is mixed with blood. Meat is only eaten on special occasions. Generally they make soups from roots and barks and eat vegetables if living in an area where they can be grown, as well they eat a staple known as chapatti that is a kind of flat thick tortilla made of a mixture of corn flower and cow fat.

Ellos son semi-nómadas y pastores cuyas vidas siempre esta rodeada cerca de las vacas, ovejas y chivos. Su principal alimento es leche que algunas veces es mezclada con sangre. Carne es consumida en raras ocasiones y generalmente consumen sopas hechas con vegetales y raices, si viven en un area donde pueden ser encontrados, también consumen algo como tortilla un poco gruesa conocida como chapatti, mezcla de harina de maiz y manteca de vaca.

Most dress in very traditional clothing of bright red material used like a skirt and multi-beaded necklaces, bracelets and earrings. That they take off, especially when living away from the big cities.

La gran mayoría visten tradicionales vestimentas de colores brillantes con collares multicolores, brazaletes y aretes que ellos mismos fabrican. Se cambian de ropa cuando van a la ciudad.


Samburu Warrior at the Village. Gerrero Samburu en su aldea.


His name is ET according to him. Su nombre de acuerdo con él es ET.


25 years old Elizabeth Bentstka. Elizabeth Bentstka a sus veinticinco años.


My friend Lchurai Lechudukue sharpening his knife at 28 years old is one of the young elder. Mi amigo Lchurai Lechudukue sacandole filo a su cuchillo a sus 28 años es uno de los viejos jovenes de la aldea.


Morning game, sometimes they bet and can even loose cows on this local board game. Juego matutino, algunas veces apuestan y pueden perder inclusive ganado en este juegito local.

Generally between five and ten families set up encampments for five weeks and then move on to new pastures. Adult men care for the grazing cattle, which are the major source of livelihood. Women are in charge of maintaining the portable huts, milking cows, obtaining water and gathering firewood. Their houses are of plastered mud or hides and grass mats stretched over a frame of poles. A fence of thorns surrounds each family’s cattle yard and huts.

Forman campamentos o pequeñas aldeas de cinco a diez familias y los mantienen por cinco semanas para después moverse a otro sitio donde encuantran nuevas pasturas. Hombres adultos se encargan de cuidar el Ganado que es donde proviene la mayor parte de su alimentación, leche y sangre. No, yo no tome leche o sangre, por si alguién pregunta. Las mujeres están a cargo del mantenimiento de sus casas portátiles, ordeñar las vacas, traer agua del río y encontrar leña. Las casas o huts tienen lodo en las paredes o pasto grueso todo sostenido por una serie de ramas en forma de arcos que son amarrados entre si. Una cerca de ramas de Acacia con grades espinas rodea la aldea y al centro de la aldea forman unas cercas para guardar el ganado pequeño.

Their society has for long been so organized around cattle and warfare (for defense and for raiding others) that they find it hard to change to a more limited lifestyle.

Esta sociedad ha vivido por tantas generaciones alrededor del ganado y sus guerras que encuentran difícil sino imposible cambiar su vida.

Duties of boys and girls are clearly delineated. Boys herd cattle and goats and learn to hunt, defending the flocks. According to the Samburu villagers they are three stages on the life of a boy, from children to around fifteen years old: they take care of the cattle and goats, from 15 to 25 they start looking for their wifes, depending on how many cattle they own. After that age they become “Elders” and all is handed over them. Girls fetch water and wood and cook. Both boys and girls go through an initiation into adulthood, which involves training in adult responsibilities and circumcision for boys and clitoridectomy for girls. Yes, unfortunately they still do circumcision to the girls.

Las tareas de los niños y niñas estan bien definidas. Los niños pastan las vacas y los chivos, aprendiendo a cazar y defender sus rebaños. De acuerdo con los locales exiten tres etapas en la vida de un niño, de la infancia hasta los 15 años: cuidan el ganado y los chivos, de 15 a 25 empiezan a buscar a sus esposas, dependiendo de cuantas vacas poseen. Después pasan a formar el grupo de los “viejos” y todo les es proveido. Las niñas van por agua, buscan leña y cocinan. Los niños y niñas pasan por lo que es conocido como iniciación en la vida adulta con todo y sus responsabilidades se circuncida a los niños y también a las niñas, Si, desgraciadamente todavía se utiliza la circunsición femenina.

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, or as we can see in the pictures the use of modern materials as plastic bags and cardboard boxes is also widely used. 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 huts is surrounded by thorn bush fence and the center of the village has the animal pens away from predators.

Las gentes Samburu practican la poligamía y un hombre peude tener tantas esposas como pueda mantener. La aldea Samburu se le conoce como nkang (Maa) o (Kiswahili) puede consistir de una sola familia un hombre y sus esposa/s. Cada mujer tiene su propia casa, que construye con la ayuda de otras mujeres con materials locales, como ramas, lodo y algunas veces de caca de vaca. O como vemos en las fotos el uso de materials modernos es también utilizado, como bolsas de plástico, y cajas de carton corrugado. Asentamientos rituals grandes son conocidos como “lororora” y pueden congregar de veinte o más familias. De cualquier manera, los asentamientos se inclinan hacia casas de dos a tres familias, con alrededor de 5-6 casas construidas en circulo con un espacio abierto al centro. El circulo está rodeado de ramas de acacia que con sus espinas protegen la aldea, al centro también se encuentran corrales para los animals pequeños, lejos de los depredadores.

Kaima Lekadaa and Napawy Lesalkapo first and second Mom of Teekukwa helping built his family hut. Kaima Lekadaa y Napawy Lesalkapo primera y segunda Mamá de Teekukwa ayundando a construir el hut para su familia.

I spent the nights at the center of the village with the weird feeling of been observed every movement I made, the first night one of the elders that is blind fell over my tent while I was sleeping, I screamed: What the f@&$#%! out of my mouth with my flashlight on, even before I was awake. Everybody laughed but me.

Dormi las tres noches en el centro de la aldea con la extraña sensación de ser observado en cada movimiento que yo hacía. La primera noche uno de los ancianos que era ciego cayó por accidente sobre mi tienda y sobre mi cuando ya estaba durmiendo, yo grite: Que P@$%# M$%#@! Esta pasando antes de despertar del todo con mi lámpara encendida. Todos se rieron, menos yo.


As can be seen I put some stones around my tent, just to try to stop the sandstorms to get in, it was not possible. Como se puede ver, puse piedras alrededor de mi tienda para intentar vanamente detener que las tormentas de arena entraran en ella.

On my birthday night October 15 they performed a dance around the fire pit also at the center of the village, the dark night embrace all of the participants, making a very difficult task to get some photographs, they repeated the same ceremony the day after around sunset, to get better shoots.

En la noche de mi cumpleaños Octubre 15, celebraron una danza ritual alrededor de una fogata al centro de la aldea, la obscura noche nos abrazó haciendo muy difícil my tarea fotográfica, la repitieron la tarde siguiente para mi beneplácito.


His only goal in life is make fire and he is known as the “Fire Maker” from dry dung he can make fire in less than two minutes with the two sticks he’s holding on his hand. El único objetivo en su vida es hacer fuego él es conocido como el “Hacedor de Fuego” lo hace con feces secas y dos palos que tiene en la mano en menos de dos minutos.


Michael Leadismo, one of the elders leader, had a very good sense of humor. Michael Leadismo uno de los consejeros leader de la aldea, quien tiene un positivo buen sentido del humor.


Michael Leadismo and the guide Ben. Michael Leadismo y el guia Benjamin.


Me with a picture farewell with all the elders and the guide Ben at the center of the Village. Yo con todos los leaderes de la Aldea y Ben el guia en una foto de despedida en el centro de la Aldea.

About marcocastrophotography

I was born and raised in México City, where the mixture of cultures gave birth to the nation that we know as México. My grandmother was the last in my family who spoke fluent Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. Due to the racism in those days, she never taught her daughters the language, and therefore, we, as a family, lost our cultural heritage. I have been involved, however, with the indigenous world, even though I do not believe this happened by coincidence. I have a background as a graphic designer, one credit short of a BA in Graphic Communication Design from the National School of Visual Arts, National Autonomous University of Mexico (ENAP-UNAM). While in a Photographic Workshop at the University Center of Cinematographic Studies (CUEC-UNAM), I met a photographer who changed my life forever: Ignacio “Nacho” López. I can still see how strongly he influences me when I develop my work in my digital darkroom. I have also had the opportunity to share marvelous moments with photographers like Dolores Alvarez-Bravo, Hector García, Lázaro Blanco, and Walter Reuter who introduced me to the etnia Triqui in Oaxaca, Mexico (Triqui Nation). I traveled and worked as Reuter's assistant for several years. I moved to New York City in 1993, which was a dream of mine for years. Here I have had the opportunity to collaborate with newspapers, magazines, and several news organizations, as well as literary publications. I also have been working as a photographer-consultant for the United Nations headquarters in New York City for the past six years at the openings of the General Assemblies. I spent endless hours in my darkroom, even mixing my own chemicals blowing up my prints back in my hometown; skills that I apply today in my digital work with attention to detail. I hold a BA on Communication and Culture from the School of Professional Studies at the Graduate Center City University of New York class of 2010. I consider myself as a Photojournalist with a Humanistic approach; I have an opportunity to rapidly built rapport with my subjects allowing me to break the barriers of language and culture; this open the doors for me to get a glimpse at their experience on their daily life and activities. Taking advantage of the old school and the digital imagining, I take the Previsualization of an image as taught by Anselm Adams with the algorithms of the new digital era and combine them to enhance what I see and experience at the moment of capture. My experience as a printer in Black and White darkroom, has allow me to choose the right material to support my imaginery. Using the Canon Pro9500 MarkII with it’s high-performance, high-density 7680 nozzle FINE print head that produces ink droplets as small as 3-picoliters for stunning, true-to-life images. The Canon LUCIA ink system guarantees archival photo life up to 100 years. All this in a 100 % acid-free cotton paper as the Moab Somerset enhanced velvet 225gsm. In 13” by 19” prints that I sale as fine art. As freelance Photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. Am always open for the booking of my expertise and for hire anywhere in the world as I hold two passports as Mexican-American and a driver’s license for the State of New York.
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