Incredible SAMBURU CEREMONY.. from Junior elder to senior elder..


Lmuget in Maa means ‘slaughter of the bulls’, in a way like a sacrifice of your favorite bull,  to give to the elders, your friends and neibour’s, in this case before you move on up the ladder from junior elder to senior elder.. Its a very serious ceremony and very beautifull..Every person that is moving up the ladder has to give generously there biggest bull they have..

all the junior elders who are ready to become senior, in our case there were 25,  and have passed every test through out their lives and have followed the strict rules, will be chosen to be part of this amazing ceremony.. they will be invited by the elders to bring their first wives and a house to a special boma called a larora..

Its the last time these elders can dress up as warrior’s which they did impressively! Here Lemosa our camp cook and leader of the safaris and his friend Lelegwen one of the gentlest and most beautiful Samburu men i know..

Its COOL!!

Its COOL!! like the male birds that come into plumage at certain times of the year.. its so similar with these men


This is their last chance to look like warriors, even though they have been junior elders for quite some years!!

This is their last chance to look like warriors, even though they have been junior elders for quite some years!!

The ceremony starts in the evening of an even count from the full moon, and after abit of dancing the ‘about to be’ senior elders will be invited into the senior elders special fenced off area, for a talk with elders from far and wide, they will be lectured and told how the future should be and how they will behave.. After that a huge bon fire is lit and all the new and old elders dance around the fire which has been laced with 8 amazing smelling herbs from the Lenkiyou forest, and the surrounding areas..

Early the next morning… These are tense moments for these guys, they don’t like to kill, and they don’t want their bulls to suffer, as they lead the bulls to the spot specially cleared for the work.. But they do it efficiently and quickly and every one helps each other out..

1. beginning of the ceremony, bringing the bulls out, after the blessing in the night

Lmuget mean’s ‘slaughtering of the bulls’ and thats how the ceremony begins every morning untill each man has done his bit..

2. every one helps to make it  efficient 1.. the ceremony begins with the slauter of many cowsSAM_0834

3. lemosa lights a fire for the women to cook prime cuts on

The men bring a smouldering bit of stick, to light a fire so that when the women come they can cook the organs quickly and enjoy .. Heres Lemosa lighting his fire.

Pete and Myself, Carolyn Roumeguere, and her daughter Cassia-peia, and my niece, watch in total awe as the work goes on.. our safari team are all involved and insisted we came to the ceremony.. I’m so pleased I did..

4. Skining the bulls is meticulous and slow work

After skinning each animal carefully, no cuts or slips, as this is a very special skin, and each bull has to be cut up in a special way, taking at least 3 or 4 hours!

5. each bull is cut up in a particular way

6. taking a rest

They guys taking a well earned rest after the tenseness of killing the bull, and then all the incredible work cutting it up meticulously.. Then each generation of men will have their meat taken to a separate place as the women wait to come and collect their part.. They are not allowed to see the others meat so they stay in the Larora untill they are called..

7. the women wait to be called

finally they are given the go ahead and wonder down to their husbands animal, and start their work.. They are accompanied by their mothers and other helpers but the junior wives don’t come to help.. 8 the women are now invited to collect all the rest 9. they sort out all the meat left and cook the liver and heart immediately

The Women set about their work with plenty of banter and teasing.. Enjoying the moment..

10. busy busy but plenty of time 10. the husband handing over responsability

they come with this special leather bag, called a Samburr to carry the entrails, and all the meat that they will go and cook at their houses.. ( could be where the name Samburu comes from, although some people say it comes from Sambiribiri, which means a butterfly!.. they certainly are like butterflies!


15. shes so beautifully dressed for the occasion

the detail of this woman’s gear is amazing..

Heres the mother of one of the men or women, helping out cooking the liver and Kidneys..

11. cooking the liver

12.. and finally after every thing is sorted they take it all home

Finally its all sorted and all that remains in the stomach contents… All the women head back to their houses.. The senior wife always carries the head of the bull.. Here lemosa’s wife.. it was really heavy! then her young son was there to greet them, and checking out what remains of his fathers bull.. EVERY SINGLE BIT OF EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL WILL BE EATEN!!

13. heres her sweet son checking whats been going on 15.1 time to dance 16.. time to dance the day away

The elders wait in the lugga for the meat to be cooked..

the elders wait for their meat!


And finally after every one eats huge amounts of meat they start dancing.. Hours and hours of beautifull singing and very very vigorous dancing..

17. great celebrations 18..dancing 19 more dancing 20.2 21. warriors!

The dancing on some days goes on almost all night..

Jumping is a maa speciality and lolmogime, is on top of it.. This is from the start to finish of one jump!!   At least 3 feet in the air from stand still!

And below the distinguished wives of these men watch in amusement!

24. lovely wivesJPG

My friend Loiramuram

25.. my friend loiramuram26.2 even silouwettes27 collecting water!

Collecting water!! A warrior on a motor bike!!

and below some of the sadnesses in this Larora.. Carolyn, for some reason picked up this beautifull baby only to find out later that his mother was no more.. Here she is with the grandmother.. what made her pick him out, out of all the babes around??  We will try support this child through out these hard times..Then below this brave youngster got badly burn’t , but we were able to help and hes fine now!!

After two days of the above .. finally it was the last morning for this wonderful ceremony, and here we are before dawn in the Larora,the cattle gently chewing the cud..   Then behind in their special boma, we hear.. ‘NGAI, NGAI NGAI’  the elders started with a prayer to their god.. Nature!.. and  waiting for some tea to be delivered to them by their juniors.. but not for long, they will soon ALL all be senior elders!, and important decision makers for the whole tribe, and called for any  meeting big or small!! a system that works extremely well!

29.0 finally the last morning

The women and youngsters milk the cows for the tea…

29.1 milking the cows before the new elders release them from the larora

and finally the last and most amazing entrance out of the lugga where they have been sleeping for the last two days, and eating of course!, into the Larora of the now becoming senior elders, still in their warrior gear, but for the very last time..

29.2 here come the new elders .. the last time they can dressas warriors

the song they sing is the one that the warriors sing when they return from battle, and beautiful,  almost haunting song, accompanied  by the horn, ( made from the greater kudu horn..)

These guys below enter the larora shieking and dancing around all the houses, as an announcement of their arrival..

30 the arrival of the beautiful entourage to close the ceremony31 the cows are the most important and life revolves around them!!

and the final burst of dancing and song to finish it off, amounst the cattle, which of course being such an important part of the Maa speaking peoples..

Here again this distinguished new senior elder, shows us for the final time that he can really really jump!! from on the ground to the top of the jump!


Lemosa silhouetted with the camels.. a lovely and special ending to a magnificent ceremony.. LONG LIVE THE SAMBURU PEOPLE AND THEIR CULTURE!.. the proudness, the song and dance.. the colours..

32 lemosa with camels

Part of our Milgis Trust work, our vision..  preserving the wildlife the habitat AND THE PEOPLES WAY OF LIFE!!  We support and encourage these great traditional tribal ceremonies, and their culture as a whole, we believe they keep the tribe together and keep discipline through out the age groups.. We really hope that they never loose it… Their oldest belief is not to kill unless you eat it, except for the odd other reason for example if a lion is killing their cattle they will eventually deal with it, but the skin will be used in other ceremonies’..


3 thoughts on “Incredible SAMBURU CEREMONY.. from Junior elder to senior elder..

  1. What a privilege it must have been to see this amazing ceremony in person and for me to experience this from thousands of miles away! Really beautiful….great photos. Thank you Helen for helping to preserve the environment, wildlife and the rich and vivid pastoral traditions! Coming to Kenya in June…All my best to you and Pete,
    Katherine Herzog

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