Compiled by Carol Fabert, Wamba, Kenya, 2022
The Samburu tribe of Northern Kenya is a semi-nomatic pastoralist culture. The Samburu are closely related to the Masaai. The Samburu and the Masaai both speak Maa, a language that does not have a robust written tradition. The Samburu speak Northern Maa, so that is the version of Maa you will find in these pages. I developed this dictionary to help me converse with the people I was staying with. While everyone who has gone to school speaks English, many people, especially older women, but also some young men, have never been to school.
If you don’t speak English or Swahili then you will have to speak Maa when you are in Samburu County. People appreciate it when you use words from their language, so I encourage you to keep this dictionary handy. Researchers will find that if you use at least some Maa, even though you have a translator, that you will find more acceptance. Learning the words that prertain to your area of study is also, of course, useful.
If you are a tourist and not familiar with the area at all, the largest town in the Samburu Lowlands is Wamba, which is where I recorded this dictionary, and the biggest city is Maralal, which is located in the Samburu Highlands.
If you have any corrections or additions you’d like to see me incorporate into the dictionary, then please leave a comment. Thank you.
Carol Fabert July 2022