Before They - Photography Project by Jimmy Nelson

III. Kenya + Tanzania

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Kenya + Tanzania
We travelled the northern dessert near Lake Turkana and further south in graze lands by Great Rift Valley where we photographed two different indigenous groups.

Flying over Africa is an absolutely breathtaking experience. The spectacular views, amazing skies and wild animals roaming the endless plains below you will stay with you long after you touched down. 
"There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as being on foot in the domain of wild animals. Even if you don’t see any, you know they’re there"
You’re trespassing in their terrain and you’re constantly very much aware of it. We were looking for a particular mountain that was situated deep in the heart of Kenya. It took us the better part of two weeks to get there on foot. On several occasions during our journey we came across fresh lion tracks. Sometimes the prints were so recent, the Samburu immediately went on full alert and brought out their spears at the ready. 

Samburu

Kenya

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The Samburu people live in northern Kenya, where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into the northern desert. As cattle-herding Nilotes, they reached Kenya some five hundred years ago, moving southwards along the plains of the Rift Valley in a rapid, all-conquering advance. 
“A deaf ear meets with death, a listening ear with blessings”
The Samburu have to relocate every 5 to 6 weeks to ensure their cattle can feed themselves. They are independent and egalitarian people, much more traditional than the Masaai. Their society has depended on cattle and warfare for so long that they find it hard to change to a more sedentary lifestyle.

Maasai

Tanzania

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When the Maasai migrated from the Sudan in the 15th century, they attacked the indigenous groups they met along the way and raided cattle. By the end of their journey, they had taken over almost all of the land in the Rift Valley. To be a Maasai is to be born into one of the last great warrior cultures. 
“Lions can run faster than us, but we can run farther”
The Maasai’s entire way of life has historically depended on their cattle, following patterns of rainfall over vast land in search of food and water. Nowadays, it is common to see young Maasai men and women in cities selling not just goats and cows, but also beads, mobile phones, charcoal, grain.