My name is Charlotte de Carle and this is my epic journey to meet the Samburu tribe of Nairobi, Africa. A few years ago I was invited by OLYMPUS to join them for a very special project which changed me forever. This trip made me fall in love with Africa and left a mark in my soul.
I was welcomed into the Samburu tribe with open arms and invited to meet up for the local singles event. Believe it or not, I was actually offered marriage for 6 cows. It was very flattering as I figured it was a reasonably high praise. Well, until I found out the locals were usually offered anywhere between 10-20. Apparently, I'm a budget wife.
The matchmaking ceremony starts with the men bragging about how many cows they have and how strong they are as the women watch on.
The Samburu tribe were so welcoming and allowed me to have a peek into their daily lives and tasks. Finding a perfect life partner was not my only mission. I really wanted to get involved in their day to day. I tried my hand at attempting to carve wood into jugs that are capable of containing goats milk. Apparently those wooden jugs are unbeatable at keeping the milk fresh.
Goats are a huge part of tribe life, there was a herd of over 20 of them in the camp. Not only are they a form of currency, but their milk is an essential ingredient in the Samburu Tribe everyday morning porridge. Oh, and they make excellent pets too!
Milking the goats is a daily ritual, so I thought I’d try my hand at it. While the goat did look like she is enjoying herself, the tribal elder’s facial expressions told a completely different story. I don’t think he was particularly impressed with my goat milking skills. I guess I am not a perfect wife material after all… .
As my milking skills leave a lot to be desired, the locals had to get someone else to extract enough milk to start the breakfast cooking. We were kindly treated to some fresh morning porridge. I did manage to snap their perfect porridge recipe (thank me later!). The fire is made by rubbing two sticks together and with only two ingredients, goats milk from their own livestock and oats that they've traded for. It was so delicious!
If you follow me on Intagram, you know I love my fashion! Therefore, I simply had to have a peek into the Samburu wardrobe. On average the Samburu’s own only two outfits. This means when they are washing one they can wear the other. They make their own jewellery, which integrates into their clothing and represents the colours and patterns of the tribe. It is worn as a form of decoration and expression as well as used as a form of currency.
I was lucky to have had an opportunity to meet the neighbours. The Samburu people live amongst magnificent animals with only the tribe warriors as the protectors of the village. The wildlife included lions, elephants, zebras and giraffes (my favourite kind of gingers)!
It is pretty mind-blowing to discover how different lifestyles, people and cultures are depending on where we are in the world. In the Samburu tradition, girls aged from 12 years of age are seen as women. Which means, as they have enter womanhood, they are ready for marriage. I managed to capture a beautiful image as the women gathered for the singles of the neighbouring villages. They were adorned with all the jewellery they have made themselves.The children of the village have very few toys. Their favourite seemed to be a small sack of grain that they all played catch with. So to come into town with a new toy was very exciting for them, the toy was my camera! They were very inquisitive, so I shared with them the imagery I had taken of them and their village. Which they absolutely loved. Despite not owning many things, they live such a content, happy lives, without technology or non-essential luxuries. It was so refreshing and inspiring. One of my favourite collection of images was captured by one of the village children who wanted to play with my Olympus Pen-F and the result was just gorgeous! It just shows how fun and playful they are and also cracking at photography.
I was really touched by how hospitable, noble and pure the people Samburu tribe were towards me. I was really allowed to join their lives for a dat, it wasn’t staged or created for a campaign, this was how they naturally were. Simply real and beautiful!
My trip to Nairobi really inspired my outlook and aesthetics. That’s why when designing my swimwear collection with Bodywear Lab, I chose prints that paid tribute to Africa and the stunnign wildlife and ever-present bold colours.
A percentage of the proceeds from the collection will support a charity I really believe in. Womankind Worldwide do an amazing job as supporting women’s movements and rights in Asia and Africa. I invite you to give them a follow on social media. In the meantime, do check my collection out. I hope you will love it as much as I do.
The trip was sponsored by Olympus.