I had gone to watch a Camel Derby in the countryside and drove about 8 hrs from Nairobi with a couple of stops to a small town called Maralal. This is Kenya’s best known and most prestigious camel race, attracting both local and international competitors.
After the race I took some time to familiarize myself with the local tribe called the Samburu on the recommendation of a local guide. The Samburu people live in this area and I was excited about this as I had not had an opportunity to interact with the Samburu people closely before this.
So we went to a nearby village and was attracted by their "loaf-shaped" huts or "manyattas" as they are called locally.
As we approached the village I saw a confident looking woman standing outside one such manyatta and I struck a conversation with her through my guide who did the translation.
I went inside the manyatta which was hardly 6 feet high with a low door only about 4 feet high. So I basically had to stoop to get in. It was dark inside and a strong smell of smoke and cow dung hung in the air. This was because they build their manyatta with poles, sticks and cow dung mixed with soil. They also cook inside the manyatta and I saw a pot on three stones at the far corner after my eyes got accustomed to the darkness inside the manyatta. I loved this experience!
I was amazed to learn that Samburu women do the bulk of chores around the house including building the manyattas! They also collect firewood and fetch water often walking long distances in harsh climatic conditions. On top of that they care for the children. I wasn't pleased about this although I learnt it is a cultural thing. But really?
The men only look after cattle! Well, occasionally the men defend the community in the event of tribal conflicts but this doesn't happen too often, so generally I feel its kind of a raw deal for the women folk, and I think the chores should be equally shared between the men and women to be honest.
I bought some fascinating colourful beaded belts and bangles as souvenirs, and all in all it was a great visit and look forward to attending the Maralal Camel Derby again in future. You can google "Maralal Camel Derby" to learn a bit more about this event.