Culinary Dictionary

Words preserve culture. I am writing a dictionary of culinary terms in Northern Maa. Here is an example of a draft definition.

Kebebek [adj]. Used to describe a thin mouthfeel or to milk diluted with water. The oppostie of keirucha. By nature, this is a relative term.  Comparing milk textures, camel is the most kebekek followed by cow, sheep, and goat. Milk texture changes seasonally. For example, cow milk, always less kebekek than camel milk, is  seasonally perceived as kebekek when rainy season fodder naturally dilutes its texture. The strongest diluting effect is felt from the Spring “little rain” that fosters strong growth of tender leaves in shrubs, rather than from the “big rain” in late autum and early winter which has a more immediate effect on the grasses. When new growth supports lots of milk, then that milk will be kebebek. Elders monitor the condition of forage from their manyatta homes in part through changes in milk texture as plants adjust to the natural wet and dry cycles of the Northern Kenyan interior climate. The first milk from the cow is kebebek compared with the more keirucha, thick milk, that follows in two to three weeks. Goat milk is made more kebebek for one or two milkings when, after one week on the lkees, range, they are finally taken to water. The diluted milk of unscrupulous market women is kebebek. Chai (tea, milk, water, and sugar) that is more dilute (1:4 milk to water) than the standard recipe (1:2) is kebekek. Ill people may ask for their tea kebekek; as may people who simply prefer it that way. 

Name Change to Samburu Research

The organisation formerly known as Samburu Lowlands Research Centre is now known simply as Samburu Research. This name change took effect on Friday July 12th 2019, when we terminated our agreement with a local lowlands camp site in the interests of a more flexible research model covering a wider geographic area.

Samburu Research retains the same objectives, policies and standards, and will continue its research in the County, protecting and continuing to build its record of ethical operations, shared community benefit from all locally conducted research, and open and accessible publication of its outputs. We will also continue to work with researchers to help develop bespoke research projects and assist you in finding suitable locations to base your party, as well as bringing you together with appropriate local contacts.  We can advise and facilitate all kinds of projects in the County, whether for field groups from universities or other academic organisations, for private individuals with particular areas of interest, or for individual researchers. Please contact us if you require any further information. We look forward to working with you!

Agreement with Remot Primary School, Westgate

The Samburu Lowlands Research Station, Lengusaka, is pleased to announce that we have come to an agreement with Boniface Nakori, headmaster of the Remot Primary School, for his teachers to use the Research Station as a natural history laboratory. The Station spans several distinct habitats, a forested riparian corridor with a colony of vervet monkeys. Part of the Station is fenced with a limited number of animals permitted to graze as a demonstration plot for land restoration. An unfenced portion denuded from overgrazing showing significant erosion, and a natural rock-lined ravine opening to the Lengusaka River that bounds the Research Station on two sides. Students will study the plants, placing labels on those they know, record botanical details, ethnobotanical information, and other cultural uses for the plants. They will study and describe the different ecologies at the Research Station, considering the question of sustainability of intensive grazing. We would like to build a library of science books for students from Primary 1 through High School, and provide basic equipment for students to use including magnifying glasses, rulers, and compound and stereo microscopes. If you have materials to donate to the Research Center or would like to contribute financially to this school project, please contact us via the contact form. Thank you.

Samburu Milk project: latest research visit

Stella-Samburu-2016In the summer of 2016, William Rubel visited the Research Station to continue work with local colleagues on the Samburu Milk project, focusing in particular on the Northern Maa dictionary of milk-related terms, a major research output from the last 5 years of research visits, and a key work-in progress. He was joined by his daughter Stella, a junior researcher-in-training, who provided valuable information gathering, interviewing and documentation support. Also joining the research group was Thor Lehman, a Masters student in the Anthropology department (Masters Anthropology of Food) at SOAS (the School of Oriental & African Studies), University of London, conducting on-the-ground research for his Masters thesis on the food of the Samburu.