Words & Pictures from Northern Kenya

A Night of Gunfire in Isiolo

Cows in Northern Kenya

Last night people living in the areas immediately to the south and west of Isiolo town listened anxiously to more than two hours of gunfire. At around half past nine the first gunshots were heard to the south of the town, where livestock were being stolen. It is thought that close to 20 cows and a large number of goats were taken and then driven off towards the west. At first the gunshots were intermittent, it seems that the raiders were shooting to warn off any followers. Their path ... Continue Reading

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