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Samburu dance - Kenya | by Eric Lafforgue
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Samburu dance - Kenya

The Turkana They inhabit the arid territories of northern Kenya, on the boundary with Sudan. Nilotic-speaking people, they have for a long time stayed outside of the influence of the main foreign trends. Nomad shepherds adapted to a almost totally desert area, some also fish in Lake Turkana. They are divided in 28 clans. Each one of them is associated with a particular brand for its livestock, so that any Turkana can identify a relative in this way.The majority of the Turkana still follow their traditional religion: they believe in a God called Kuj or Akuj, associated with the sky and creator of all things. He is thought to be omnipotent but rarely intervenes in the lives of people. Contact between God and the people is made though a diviner (emeron). Diviners have the power to interpret dreams, forecast the future, heal, and make rain. However, the Turkana doubt about those who say they have powers, but fail to prove it in the everyday life. According to estimates, about 15% of the Turkana are Christian. Evangelism has started among the Turkana since the 1970s. Various church buildings have been built since then. The most astonishing element one can notice in the villages, is that the only permanent structures are churches, with huts all around. Infact, in the late 1970s, feeding projects as well as literacy courses and other services have been provided by Baptist workers. This easily explains the importance acquired by the Church.The Turkana don't have any physical initiations. They have only the asapan ceremony, transition from youth to adulthood, that all men must perform before marriage. The Turkana are polygamous. Homestead consists of a man, his wives and children, and often his mother. When a new wife comes, she stays at the hut of the mother or first wife until she has her first child. The high bride-wealth payment (30 to 50 cattle, 30 to 50 camels and 100 to 200 small stock) often means that a man cannot marry until he has inherited livestock from his dead father. It also implies that he collect livestock from relatives and friends, which strengthens social ties between them. Resolution is found to conflicts through discussions between the men living in proximity to one another. Men of influence are particularly listened, and decisions are enforced by the younger men of the area. Each man belongs to a specific generation set. If a man is a Leopard, his son will be a Stone, so that there is approximately an equal number of each category. The Turkana make finely carved wooden implements, used in the daily life. During the rainy season, moonlight nights' songs have a particular place in the Turkana's life. The songs often refer to their cattle or land, but they are sometimes improvised and related to immediate events. The Turkana have a deep knowledge of plants and products they use as medicine. The fat-tailed sheep is often called "the hospital for the Turkana".


Les Turkana habitent les territoires arides du nord du Kenya, à la frontière avec le Soudan.Peuple de langue nilotique, ils sont pendant longtemps restés hors de l’influence des principaux courants étrangers. Pasteurs nomades adaptés à une zone presque totalement déserte, certains pêchent également dans le lac Turkana. Ils sont divisés en 28 clans. Chacun d’entre eux est associé à une marque particulière donné à son bétail, de telle façon que tout Turkana peut identifier un parent de cette manière.La majorité des Turkana suit encore leur religion traditionnelle : ils croient en un Dieu appelé Kuj ou Akuj, associé au ciel et créateur de toute chose. Les Turkana le voient comme omnipotent mais intervenant rarement dans la vie des gens. Le contact entre Dieu et les hommes se fait par l’intermédiaire d’un divin (emeron). Les devins ont le pouvoir d’interpréter les rêves, prédire l’avenir, soigner et faire pleuvoir. Toutefois, les Turkana doutent de ceux qui disent qu’ils ont des pouvoirs, mais échouent à le prouver dans la vie de tous les jours. Selon des estimations, environ 15% des Turkana sont chrétiens.


© Eric Lafforgue


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Taken on July 13, 2009