At Kenya’s far northern frontier lies one of the natural wonders of the world: Lake Turkana, a massive inland sea, the largest desert lake in the world. It is widely known as the Jade Sea because of its remarkable color. Around the searingly hot, windy shores, live semi-nomadic pastoralists tribes: the Turkana, Samburu, Rendille and Pokot.
Up at 5 A.M.,
drive into the darkness.
Watch the sunrise
turn the skies orange.
We enter the village through a gate of acacia tree branches
Small huts made from tree saplings, framed with woven mats.
Watch the morning routines;
the camels and goats being attended to,
the morning tea and maize cereal.
The women already wearing their concentric rings
of elaborate beaded necklaces.
We bring gifts of food and are warmly welcomed.
There are few places remaining in Africa where you can witness
a traditional culture of such beauty
The culture in the Turkana region is filled with a unique wealth of dresses, hairstyles, jewelry, sayings, tales, songs, craftsmanship and knowledge. The tribes are pastoralist in nature; it defines who they are.
Indigenous cultures that follow their traditional ways of life are rapidly disappearing. At risk is a vast archive of knowledge and expertise. Yet change itself does not destroy a culture. All societies are constantly evolving. Diverse cultures survive when they honor the customs of their past and have enough of a say in their future to maintain their spirit and essence in the face of the forces of globalization.
Though we may not see our own customs and traditions in these images, it is my hope that we recognize our common humanity. If we share our stories and appreciate the mysteries of every realm, we may yet gain a deeper understanding of that which lies both behind and ahead of us.