In the 1880s our Samburu community was met with a disaster( Mutai). The Samburu herds were decimated by overwhelming scourges that were destroying the animals elsewhere in East Africa.
When they were faced by a severe loss of animals which they entirely depend as a source of their livelihood they gradually fragmented and drifted for shelter towards neighbouring tribal communities, where they were accepted on terms dictated by their tolerant hosts.
The following tribes and people group provided help and hosted our Samburu people in their distress:-
This was a tribe practising riverine agriculture and pastoralism in the vicinity of River Omo at the North of Lake Turkana. They are best referred by the Samburu as “LCHANGILA or RESIAT”. They were quite amenable to the incursion of Samburu refugees from OTTO area. Many Samburus were assimilated into the Dasanach tribe and permitted to absorb into their culture. They joined in tribal activities to such a degree that they even developed a Samburu group within their host’s tribal system-the Kuro section -which still exist today.
The advantages of the Dasanach were many. In return to their hospitality the Dasanach received a new labour force to assist with work in the fields and stock herding, a reinforcement of spears with which to aid them in countering the Turkana encroachment.
This is a tiny tribe which their lives is centered on fishing and killing hippopotamus for living along Lake Turkana. The Samburu refers to them as ” LMOOLO or LDES”. Their origin appears to be closely tied with those of the Dasanach and Arbore people in the North.
When the disasters struck the Samburu, they were forced to seek refuge among the ELMOLO. There again our Samburu community accepted into the tribal life, joining them in the fishing and hunting activities of this minuscule tribe. It was purely a stop-gap convenient for the Samburu community until such times as the foundations of new herds were laid. As a result of the Samburu superiority in numbers, the Samburu culture influenced Elmolo customs, affecting dress style, language and introducing the livelihood of the stockman to the fisherman community. Livestock economy became evident.
When the fatal Rinderpest (Lodua) scourge of the 1890s reduced the Samburu to an impoverished state, the Rendile willingly provided them with support and food. The Rendille population were heavily depleted by smallpox ( Nkeeya mara ) epidemics in the mid-1890s. In those days the Rendille possessed huge herds of camels, but only a small number of able people were left alive to care for them. On the other hand, the Samburu herds were depleted by rinderpest but had a large population to feed. The two communities carried out a symbiotic reliance.
The Samburu were employed by the Rendile as camel herders and act as a defense force in addition. Beside the Samburu camel herders slaves, there was another group of Samburu warriors out of desperation and necessity who stole and slaughter Rendille camels, sheep and goats. They were referred by the Samburu as ” LTOMPON”. These thieves hunted wild animals for subsistence.
4 : NDOROBO:- A few remnants of Samburu took up life with the forest-dwelling Ndorobo, absorbing their vocation and becoming honey collectors and hunters of wild animals for food.