This week features our first professionally fierce Fridayer, this very put-together Samburu warrior photographed by Johan Gerrits.


The Samburu live semi-nomadically in north-central Kenya, raising principally cattle but also sheep, goats and camels. Their name comes from the Maasai word 'samburr', referring to the ubiquitous leather bag used by the Samburu; though closely related both ethnically and linguistically to the Maasai, their own word for themselves is Lokop or Loikop and its meaning is disputed among them.

Samburu culture is a gerontocracy, meaning that elders rule. After a boy's circumcision ritual at around 14 years, he becomes a junior moran or warrior for seven years. Following an elaborate, mass graduation ceremony, he spends a further six years as a senior moran, before becoming an elder and being allowed to marry. 

The Samburu are also called the Butterfly People by neighbouring groups, for the colourful cloth with which they wrap themselves. They are well known for their intricately beaded adornments, including colossally layered collars which play a rhythmic role in traditional dances (see video above).

Rebecca Lolosoli is a Samburu woman renowned for her work towards women's rights in her community. In 1990 she registered the Umoja Uaso Women's Group to create employment for women who had been abused or mistreated, through sales of beadwork and other goods. Following threats from men, she established Umoja, a women-only village to house these women. 

Banner image by Eric Lafforgue/Getty Images.