Samburu Cell Phones

Our friend Philip

(Greg) Today we changed our flight out of central Kenya so that we could visit the Wednesday market in Wamba. This region is almost exclusively Samburu, a colorful, proud and very traditional tribe of pastoralist cattle herders. Samburu people walk 20k or more to meet and trade on Wednesdays. It is a social as well as commercial event where the warriors strut in full-feathered regalia and the women, equally focused on impressing, wear colorful kikoys and boast huge round necklaces of intricate beadwork. So real. So beautiful. We caused quite a stir, attracting following crowds curious to see at whose booths we would stop and maybe buy handmade spears or goat bells, cattle feed or Obama t-shirts.

In the far corner of the market was the cell phone charge guy. He had an intricate set up of power strips hooked to an inverter and a 12 volt car battery. 20 Kenyan schillings (about 25 cents) a charge. A gaggle of warriors surrounded him, waiting for their once-a-week charge to complete. Colors, feathers, spears and cell phones. This beautiful and delicate balance between old and new is about to change for the Samburu. Wamba just got its first electricity line.

Sadly, we could take no photographs of this remarkable scene. The traditional Samburu believe that taking pictures takes their soul. But we know their soul will be taken far more quickly by the “progress” that will surely follow the arrival of electricity.

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One Response to “Samburu Cell Phones”

  1. sophie hunter 09. Dec, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    thats soo cool!! did you buy a obama t-shirt haha miss ya! hope to see or talk to you soon bye -Sophie