The Samburu belong to the Nilotic ethnic group who settled in the North of the Mount Kenya and South of the Lake Turkana, following a migration that began in what is known today as Sudan.
The Samburu name comes from the word Samburr, that is a kind of bag used by members of the tribe, although the Samburu refer to themselves as Loikop, or Lokop, that means "land owners".
They speak the Samburu language, a Nilo-Saharan language similar to Maa, that is the language spoken by the Maasai.
Dances usually accompany rituals or ceremonies; the main ritual in the Samburu society is male circumcision that marks the transition to adulthood, while the most important ceremony is undoubtedly the wedding.
The Samburu believe in one supreme god - Nkai or Ngai, who is thought to reside in the Ng'iro, Marsabit and Kula mountains, but he is also present in nature elements, such as trees or water sources.
The god is addressed prayers and rituals that are celebrated in his honor to propitiate his favour and benevolence.
In the Samburu society two figures play a key role: the soothsayer and the magician-healer or shaman; the former predicts the future while the latter practices propitiatory rituals.
Life, tradition and culture of Samburu people
- Samburu social organisation and villages
- Samburu religion
- Samburu rituals and ceremonies
- Livestock farming and diet in Samburu communities
- Samburu jewellery and clothing