Documentary ” Beads of Bondage” about the Samburu people

The Samburus are a tribe living in the remote northern areas of Kenya. Yesterday there was a short documentary on them and one of their customs considered retrograde for the Kenyans. The documentary was called “Beads of bondage”. Young girls, aging from nine to fourteen are selected by a Moran – Morans are warriors under 30 years of age- who is a relative of them. He then sells a cow or a beef to buy beads for them, and mentions his interest about the girl to her brothers. It is an honour for the family to have a beaded girl and some of the girls feel their beauty is enhanced with the beads. Then they build a hut for them and the Moran can come to visit her whenever he wishes to. This custom is supposed to help regulate the Morans’ concupiscence and prevent them from seducing the elders’ wives.

When a girl gets pregnant, the elder ladies – or traditional doctors go to the forest, to get rid of the child; they say they are going to fetch water of wood. If the Moran finds out, she is abandoned as it is considered to be her fault if she becomes pregnant with this unprotected sex.

These traditional methods of abortion cause dreadful pain to the girls; some have undergone three abortions and some don’t even survive this practice: heels and all kinds of pressure are applied. She girl is held still by other women.

However if the child is born he is either slain within an hour or abandoned in the forest. The documentary showed one middle- aged lady who went to pick the new-born  to then raised them as her children. “One might become a president or even a MP’’ she said. “ When they are older they might protect me”. By doing this she becomes an outcast, which means getting little support if any from the community. However it seems there was another woman supporting her; a lady that had been beaded as a child and who was against this practice: she was forced to abort after a five month pregnancy and mentioned the excruciating pain.

Some of the girls are happy with this practice, and others run away to the nearest school –located 20 km away- where they get assistance. Some of the elder ladies are against this practice, some say it’s an honour. Some of the ladies say that it is a sin to have sex without the girls being circumcised. However this practice gets much reprobation from Western cultures. As for the Morans themselves, they say they can’t survive without a woman and can’t be expected to survive without a woman.

Beads of Bondage on NTV, click on this link

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4 thoughts on “Documentary ” Beads of Bondage” about the Samburu people

  1. It’s crazy that you wrote about these beaded girls! A couple of weeks ago, I saw this documentary on tv called “Half The Sky” (very good, by the way, I recommend it) and they were talking about this, and I thought: “mmmh, I should tell my sister to go see them, and meet them and write about them.” And then I didn’t tell you about it, because I realized that Kenya is very big and you probably don’t have many days off to plan excursions.
    Anyway, it would be great if you got to go and do some first hand reporting!

  2. Their leaders (mps etc) should spearhead a campaign against this dehumanising practice instead of complianing of being marginalized, how can you develop with such practices

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