climate change reaches cut off point!

At the remote camp of Sarara, north of Nairobi, I asked village elders about the drought…That evening I learnt a most remarkable consequence of the drought. The Samburu circumcise their youths in grand ceremonies which are held every seven years or so, when enough cattle and other foods have accumulated to support such celebrations.

Circumcision represents transition to manhood, until a youth has passed it he can’t marry. But it’s been 14 years since a circumcision ceremony has been held here. There are now 40,000 uncircumcised young men, some in their late 20’s waiting for their turn. All the eligible young women, tired of waiting, have married older men (multiple wives are allowed), so there are no wives for the new initiates.

I could never have imagined that climate change would have such an effect on an entire society. On reflection though, cultures such as the Samburu are intimately linked to their environment, so as these pressures increase it becomes more difficult to maintain long-held traditions.

Tim Flannery, The Age (Australia) 3 Nov 2007 – screen copy held by this website