Courtesy: Samburu Girls Foundation

Empowering Women- “When you educate a man, you educate an individual. When you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”

Cultural Practice
What is Beading?

The Samburu beading traditions symbolize different ceremonies and status within their culture. As reported by CNN David McKenzie in 2011.
It is exactly this tradition of engagement beading or as McKenzie refers to it “rape beading” that Josephine Kulea Leseita, also in this report representing SGF, explains the foundation is working to educate and change.

The Samburu are known for their beautiful and decorative beads. It is important to understand as Saidimu Ole Ngais clarifies in his response to the CNN report through Dispora Kenyan that of the 5 various beading types it is only the engagement beading that is the illegal and destructive.

Beaded girl
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

In Samburu culture FGM is the removal of the clitoris before marriage. As explained by Saidimu Ole Ngais, “Male domination in our society is directly related to FGM. Girls are cut to give men authority to own them. To deny them education, equal opportunities as the boy.” Ole Ngais goes on to express that this process is also emotionally damaging to the boys of the tribe due to the traumatic effects connected to FGM.

as explained by Saidimu Ole Ngais

1. Everyday beads- these beads are not acquired through a ceremonial process and can be worn by anybody at any time.

2. Ceremonial beads- beads of this nature are worn during traditional ceremonies. The ceremonies include a congratulations for the birth of a child, mothers can receive beads from their children which signifies their wealth as mothers. Father’s are beaded as well during their initiation ceremonies and young adults carry a bead chain around their necks or bodies. this chain is symbolic of their age-group.

3. Regallia beads- these are special beads for the various groupings within the Samburu. Warriors have warrior regallia, girls, girl regallia and grandmothers too have their regallia beads.

4. Public Leadership Beads- Leaders of the society are beaded to show their status with a black yard stick and leaders club.

5. The Engagement Beads- these are the beads of red, sometimes with a stripe or two of color. These beads are given by an adult man or the parent of the man as a symbol of engagement.

It is the 5th type of beading that is so harmful to the young girls of this culture.

© 2012 Amanda Fuller-Wellman Contact Me.

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