About six hours from Nairobi, lies the little village of Umoja, a unique women’s only ‘manyatta’ in the heart of Kenya.
The dusty plains are golden in the light of day and farm animals roam in the sweltering heat. A babble of children’s laughter fills the air. Adorned in vibrantly colored Samburu clothes and necklaces, women go about their mundane chores. It looks like any other community in Kenya, with the exception of one marked difference – no men live in Umoja. This inspirational village honors the life of Samburu women and provides a self-sustaining example in a male-dominated tribal system.
The Umoja village was formed by women for women, to provide security and as a means of pooling resources and skills. The village is a refuge for girls and women, who have suffered from genital mutilation, rape, forced marriage and spousal abuse. Widows and orphans are also part of the Umoja group. The Matriarch of the Umoja Uaso Women’s Village, Rebecca Lolosoli started a revolution and pioneered the establishment of this village in an area where women do not have the right to own land, livestock or attend school. She has overcome these obstacles through international acclaim for her beadwork, income generation, support and funding.
At Umoja you can enjoy a tour of the huts and manyatta, the pre-school, the napoo (village parliament) and a woman’s home. You can find out more about the Samburu way of life, history and culture, visit the curio shop and see a display of blacksmith work plus traditional singing and dancing. There is also a Cultural Museum.