Sexual Freedom in Samburuland -- You'll hear a lot said about the sexism inherent in tribal patriarchies. You'll hear how women do most of the work, raise the children, endure beatings and painful circumcision, and put up with drunk, violent husbands. But it's worth noting that there are some concessions when it comes to the sexual liberty of people like the Samburu. According to tradition, Samburu girls may have boyfriends (as long as they are boys, not men) before they are circumcised and -- as long as they do not fall pregnant -- their relative promiscuity is, by Western standards, accepted. Once married, however, it's widely known that women continue to have lovers, usually younger men (mostly handsome, virile warriors). By all accounts, one of the prime motivations for female circumcision is to prevent married women from sleeping with anyone except their husbands, since the removal of the external sex organs prevents the woman from experiencing any sexual pleasure. Oddly, though, women continue to take younger lovers, and this behavior is common enough for it to be regarded as inherent social practice, largely ignored as long as their much older husbands aren't overtly aware or made to feel cuckolded. Secretly, such adultery seems to be a taboo that can be legitimately broken, with an unspoken shared understanding within the community. After all, men have multiple wives, and some observers believe that this sexual liberty helps retain a sense of cohesion within the community (not to mention a high prevalence of STDs).
The Samburu Miracle -- One of the most extraordinary and endearing wildlife events ever witnessed on camera occurred in Samburu National Reserve. A lioness named Kamunyak adopted an orphaned baby oryx and nurtured it for several days while a BBC film crew observed and astounded locals and tourists watched in fascination. While the oryx suffered increasing malnutrition as it was unable to suckle, the lioness also started to waste away as she traded hunting for instinct-driven mothering. Although the tale could not have ended any other way, the oryx was finally killed and eaten by other lions -- and if the film footage is anything to go on, the loss of her adopted baby broke the lioness's heart. The event proved so strange, surreal, and suggestive of the inexplicable wonders of the animal kingdom that Kamunyak was dubbed "the miracle lioness" and thousands believe her action to have truly been an act of God.
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