Preserving the sounds of the Samburu

An old Kenyan proverb proclaims that “music speaks louder than words”. Anyone that has visited Kenya, and been fortunate enough to hear the sounds and songs of the Samburu will remember their power to conjure vivid images. For centuries these spine-tingling chants, hypnotic clapping and soulful singing have been instrumental in recording Samburu history. With no written language; songs, dance and storytelling form a core part of life and songs are dedicated to their God, their cattle, the bravery of warriors and tribal warfare.

Samburu song and dance is part of a social ritual that goes back hundreds of years

Bringing together conservation, communities, and tourism, Sasaab helps to ensure that the Samburu community plays an active role in the protection of endangered species and benefits from tourism.  In consultation with the local Westgate Community board, Sasaab supports health and education projects that improve the lives of over 600 families. Since concerted community conservation efforts started in 2004, large mammals such as giraffes and lions are more frequently sighted in the area.

Sasaab brought in singers from the local Samburu community and recorded their sounds

Beyond community support, Sasaab works hard to protect the Samburu culture. Its latest effort is a collaboration with Midi Minds — a Nairobi-based DJ collective that hopes to have a positive impact via music.  To help protect Samburu’s musical culture, which is diminishing under the influence of radio and recorded music, Midi-Minds recently came to Sasaab to record some essential songs. The outcome is a unique segment of audio that is indicative of one of Kenya’s oldest indigenous tribes. Midi Minds hopes that this audio will not only act as a permanent record but also hopes to sell the audio snapshots to international artists and channel the revenue earnt back into the community.

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