There are many stories about the ancient history and exact origin of the Samburu – sometimes referred to as ‘The Butterfly People’. The events of their beginnings have been passed along orally through the ages, interwoven with mythology, shamanic beliefs and recounted facts merged together with a claim to have been born from the stars. Some believe their origin comes from the Sudan, others claim they originate from within Egypt and that they are the direct descendants of a lost battalion of Roman soldiers.
Another belief is that they were born of a father and mother cast off into the wilderness because of a forbidden love affair. Whatever their lineage, the Samburu of today are a fiercely pastoral group of people totally committed to their livestock and nomadic way of life. Existing in the desert wilderness of Northern Kenya, their world is akin to a living daydream of otherworldly hues. To see a group of Samburu warriors floating along as stream of color in the amber dust of the East African horizon (adorned with a bounty of feathers atop their head) is a truly unforgettable experience.
The Samburu portrait project by Lyle Owerko documents one of Africa’s last great Warrior tribes in vivid black and white renderings. As an established living record of a community in transition, the series transports a person into a world both equally childlike and raw at the same time. Witness this unique group of people faced with increasing exposure to Westernization, as well as the inevitable changes that the passing of time brings.
(Lyle Owerko | The Samburu, PRIVATE 54 – LOST, pages 26-29)