Dusty Fashion Show

In the wake of two Samburu warriors we walk on the African savannah. The morans are on their way to the river Seeja. It is the only place in the area where there is almost always water. Only in extreme droughts, like the one in 2009, this place also dries up completely. After a 13 kilometre long walk, it looks like there was no point coming here. The river is completely run dry. The morans however, set to work cheerfully and vigorously. In half an hour the cattle will arrive and then there has to be water. More morans arrive and set to work in the riverbed. Surrounded by thorn bushes, the warriors dig small basins in the dusty riverbeds. Then it becomes clear why the Seeja is so essential to the Samburu. Groundwater fills the pit to just beneath the knees of the morans. Cowbells signal the arrival of the thirsty herd. The animals know exactly who their shepherd is. The morans welcome their cattle with singing, whistling, but mostly water. For a moment the drought is forgotten. It is a fascinating interaction between people, animals and nature. When the cows, goats and camels are satisfied they start their return journey, the morans stay behind. The thorn bushes around the pits change into coat racks. Stark-naked the young warriors get into their baths and start an extensive wash. The Samburu are known for their hygiene and for the morans ostentation comes on top of that. Like peacocks they parade through the dry riverbed. Their washed clothes, colourful jewellery around their necks and okra in their hair complete the fashion show. The morans are ready to go back to the savannah. Diederik Veerman

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