A PHOTOGRAPHIC TRIBUTE
TO KENYA’S SAMBURU PEOPLE

camera
Images by
DIRK REES
14 November, 2014

The Samburu are a Nilotic people, originally hailing from the plains alongside the Nile river. As part of a Maa speaking group, they moved south under pressure from the Borana expansion in the late 16th century. The earliest settlement of the Maa was just south of Lake Turkana. This group became known as the Samburu, while another group moved further south eventually becoming known as the Maasai. Their languages and rites of passage remain closely related to one another, as do their rituals and spiritual beliefs.
   In essence the Samburu are semi-nomadic pastoralists whereas the Maasai retained a completely nomadic lifestyle until recent colonisation and land ownership confined both tribes to a more sedentary existence.
   Living in a more remote area than than the Maasai, the Samburu remain a little more traditional in attitude than the Maasai who’s younger members in particular feel the call of the city and modern education. Because of the arid climate of the Samburu region, along with cattle and goats, camels make up part of the Samburu’s wealth.
   Different Samburu clans can be identified by the colour combinations of their clothing. A great deal of time is spent on personal decoration. Most distinct are the bird feathers men use in headdresses in combination with plastic flowers – a modern addition. Men wear elaborate beaded collars and their chests are criss-crossed with strings of beads. Women wear a large number of circular beaded necklaces and keep their hair short, unlike the men who will braid and colour it with red ochre.

 

Dirk-rees-samburu-PORTRAIT-II5A1610

©Dirk Rees
 

Dirk-rees-samburu-GROUP-II5A1817-2

©Dirk Rees
 

Dirk-rees-samburu-PORTRAIT-L1008848-w2

©Dirk Rees
 

Dirk-rees-samburu-GROUP-L1008828-v2

©Dirk Rees
 

Dirk-rees-samburu-PORTRAIT-II5A1621

©Dirk Rees
 

VW Nov Dirk-rees-samburu-PORTRAIT-L1008700

©Dirk Rees
 

Dirk-rees-samburu-RIVERBED-L1008803-2

©Dirk Rees
 

Dirk-rees-samburu-PORTRAIT-L1008731-W3

©Dirk Rees
 

Dirk-rees-samburu-RIVERBED-L1008963

©Dirk Rees
 

Dirk-rees-samburu-PORTRAIT-L1008797

©Dirk Rees
 

Dirk-rees-samburu-PORTRAIT-II5A1466

©Dirk Rees
 

Dirk-rees-samburu-PORTRAIT-L1008719

©Dirk Rees

Sign up to get our magazine stories
and most popular blog posts every week

  • Jo Currie

    great photos! just wondering when you were there? I think I have the necklace in the first image………. I bought it off a samburu guy in the village by the national park in June 🙂

  • Regina

    Beautiful!

  • Philippa Elaine Castle

    Absolutely awe-inspiring… 🙂

  • Philippa Elaine Castle

    I just wish to mention that to post here as FB, one has to click the wrong link…