The Samburu of Kenya
Location: Remote North Central Kenya greatly dispersed between Mt Kenya and Lake Turkana.
History: The Samburu are a Nilotic people who originally migrated from Sudan, settling in Northern Kenya centuries ago.
Culture: Their name comes from their traditional leather bag they carry called a ‘samburr’. They are related to the Maasai. They are semi-nomadic pastoralists, keeping cattle, sheep, and goats. They especially love their cattle. Like the Maasai, they believe all cattle belong to them, and cattle raiding is a major preoccupation. Young unmarried men are warriors, charged with protecting the village from lions and hyenas, as well as raiding other tribes’ cattle.
Both men and women adorn themselves with colorful beaded necklaces and the young men braid their long hair and coat it with ochre.
Elders rule the clan and their curse or blessing is taken seriously.
Religion: Animism. The Samburu believe in a creator god ‘Nkai’. They pray and seek his blessing. Their beliefs are expressed in their traditions and rituals, which they are very careful to follow. It is not uncommon for children and young people, especially women, to report visions of Nkai. A few children gain a reputation for prophecy throughout their lives. Samburu also have ritual diviners, called ‘loibonok’, who divine the causes of individual illnesses and misfortune. Sin has a very restricted meaning and therefore, many would say they have no sin.
Latest Prayer Updates:
We rejoice that nine women, two youth, and one Samburu man followed Jesus in baptism in November/December 2018. But we are saddened that four Samburu women who would like to be baptized, could not because their husbands, or other influential men, did not approve. Why? Some people have said, that if you are baptized you can no longer participate in some of the traditions and celebrations of the Samburu. In this area, the people observe many traditions of the Samburu people. To be a good Samburu you are to keep all of the traditions. Their identity is wrapped up in being Samburu. But, what if a Jesus follower feels that some parts of the traditions are not good?
We have never given a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ to follow if you are baptized. Rather, we have explained baptism as a testimony that one has decided to follow Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. We trust the Holy Spirit will teach the believers what is good and pleasing to God, and what is not. Pray for those who have been baptized, that they will truly follow Jesus as Lord, even if they face opposition because of it. Pray that God would break the chains of tradition that hinder people, particularly men, from acknowledging Jesus as Lord. Pray that these four women believers may soon be baptized.
We praise God for our church’s Christmas celebration! It was held at our compound and many people participated, including men and youth. After the meal, three Samburu women followed Jesus in baptism! Pray that others will be encouraged to take such a stand, despite disapproval of some in the community.