PICTURE: Samburu woman ready for milking early morning, Lpus village, Marsabit Kenya / Photo: Mario Kuraki
Milking among the Samburu within the manyatta is the preserve of married women. Every married woman milks (a) lactating cow(s) or camel(s) from the allotted herd of one’s husband. This singing accompanies milking that they execute within the manyatta. That is either early in themorning or in the evening after the animals return from grazing.
A distinguishing feature of these songs is the diction employed in their composition. An analysis of their phraseology reveals first that they are sung during milking and that is either for a lactating cow or a camel. For instance, in the praise songs for milking, there is mention of theact of milking, milk appellatives that identify whether it is a cow or acamel that is the addressee.
In the one for the cow, we have for instance, ‘Aruaki labura
linong’op nanyor ee yeyolai namelok, I am milking your foam when it is warm the
loved sweet one of my mother.’
In the song, ‘your foam’ serves in the analysis of the camel a referring expression that refers to milk. The one for the camel, it the act by mentioning a camel, a camel that is being milked. A milker then proceeds to tell the camel that, ‘Nalepoki nkera…, I am milking for mychildren….’ Further analysis of their content reveals their relevance in aiding the conceptualization of the Samburu cosmos. Such relevance is the main concernin chapter four. To have a clear idea of how the community classifies some of the songs, we begin our description with three ‘milking songs’
Songs are part of Samburu tribe oral narrations to express different feeling be it performing an important rite of passage or time passing leisure.