Sopa! (Hello is Samburu)
Yesterday, Sunday, we entered the Samburu National Reserve taking local children from Unity Village along with us to experience the wildlife. Among all the game drives we got to see the largest family of cheetahs made up of four individuals; several herds of elephants, impalas, and orek in addition to small herds of gerenuks, dik-diks, giraffes, zebras, and grand gazelles. It was amazing to see the reactions of the children when seeing the different animals. Surprisingly, the children were far more afraid of the elephants than the lions, so much so that some of the children wanted us to close the windows of safari car.
This morning we went into Archer’s Post to help with the cleaning process at Gir Gir Primary School in preparation for the Samburu Youth Foundation graduation tomorrow. We were put to work moving tables and boxes, cleaning desks, and blowing up balloons to make the school look festive for the ceremony. It was exciting to start meeting the students we will be watching graduate tomorrow morning.
This afternoon we had an incredible opportunity to be a part of the final celebration of a traditional Samburu wedding. The brother of one of our local friends, Francis, has been going through the marriage process for the past month and just today completed the final steps and celebration. Although we missed the original celebration by about an hour, the wonderful people of the village took the time to explain and partially reenact the ceremony. At one point, a village elder brought us into the hut of the newly married couple and illustrated the ceremony they had completed that morning and all of the symbolism and significance it held. His passion for the tradition was infectious, especially when he compared our tradition of sharing the first slice of wedding cake to a traditional Samburu ritual where the bride paints a special food down the body of the groom from head to toe four times before an elder comes and feeds the happy couple a special slice of goat meat four times. This is the first time the couple has ever shared food, and it’s meant to represent the beginning of their new shared life.
After the explanation of the ceremony, elders of the village began a song and chant which members of the village pulled each of us in to in turn. This song and dance was a combination of the wedding celebration dances and the welcoming dances, for example the men, both Mzungus* and Africans, did a dance where two men jumped together to the beat of the chant, the aim being to maintain level eye contact through the jump. All in all it was a wonderful experience being welcomed like family or old friends into a group of people we had only just met.
We wrapped the evening with song and dance off, campfire games, and rose bud (bird) thorn by popular request.
Until next time, this is Nakayla and Ryan signing off, ashe o’lang and habari hasubui* from Samburu.
Mzungus = foreigners/tourists/guests
Ashe o’lang = thank you very much
Habari hasubui = goodnight