Words & Pictures from Northern Kenya

Pink Flip Flop Boat on Lake Turkana

Pink Flip Flop Boat on Lake Turkana

One day, as I walked along the eastern shore of Lake Turkana, I came across this wonderful pink flip flop boat. Parents and older children often make toys for the younger kids from bits and bobs of rubbish. Cars made from plastic cooking oil containers, cut in half and with plastic lids for wheels. Or large plastic pot lids nailed to a stick and used for wheeling along. But this simple plastic flip flop boat, with a stick for a mast and a bit of plastic bag for a sail, is one of the most stylish ... Continue Reading

Drought and Conflict

Dead Donkey with a veiw North Horr

The November rains failed over much of the north of Kenya. These were important rains, they would normally provide more than enough pasture to get through the short dry season, but not this year. Ordinarily livestock don’t need to move far from their home area during the short dry season; unlike the much greater migration for pasture witnessed from May to November, the long dry season. This year things are different, many animals have already had to move vast distances to find pasture. Some ... Continue Reading

An Evening of Cattle Branding with the Laikipiak Maasai

Catching Cattle

It’s 6 o’clock, the late afternoon light is softly yellow and a hazy sun is dropping onto the western hills. The cattle are returning to the manyatta, peaceful and relaxed, there is still grazing and water for them at an easy distance here. They calmly make their way through the gap in the thorn hedge; the hedge, protection against wildlife, encloses the circle of mud huts that makes up this homestead. Watched carefully by the senior men, they pass into a second, inner, circle of thorn. Their ... Continue Reading

The Circumcision

The Circumcision

It was just after sunrise, I stood outside a mud and grass thatched hut and listened to a little girl crying inside. Ten minutes earlier the 12 year old girl had been sitting on a cured cow skin outside the door of the hut, naked and surrounded by a crowd of local women. The girl, a bright pupil at school, keen on learning and with a gentle and happy character, was being circumcised. Supported by two of the women she sat on the hide, legs spread. The circumciser lent forward and, using a ... Continue Reading

A Night by the shores of the Jade Sea

The Night Sky over the Jade Sea

The land on the eastern side of Lake Turkana is stark and dramatically beautiful. It was formed by the earth shattering forces of plate tectonics and volcanic eruptions; think Iceland but with 40C degree temperatures. It’s the kind of landscape where every new rise, or bend, in the rough black rock road produces an awe inspired ‘wow’ from travellers. Much of the volcanic material looks as if it were erupted just yesterday, in such an arid environment there isn’t much plant life to cover or erode ... Continue Reading