Only women are allowed to live in umoja. It is a village in Kenyan that began as a refuge for survivors of s3xual violence and discovers its inhabitants are thriving in the single- s3x community.
Umoja was founded in 1990 by a group of 15 women who were survivors of rape by local British soldiers. With time the umoja’ s community increase in population and has expand to include any woman escaping child marriage, FGM, ( female genital mutilation), domestic violence and rape all of which are cultural norms among the samburu till date, Samburu is a Kenyan tribe were child marriage and female circumcision are cultural norms.
Aside from that, Umoja was led by Rebecca Lolosoli a samburu women who also served as the sanctuary for homeless survivors of violence against women and young girls running from forced marriage, she founded the community after been recovering from the beating by group of men when she came up with the knowledge of a women- only community described as Umoja community today.
Reason for her beating was to teach her lesson for daring to expose the women on their rights. The Samburu are closely related to the maasai tribe, speaking a similar language and living in group of five to 10 families which happened to be semi- nomadic pastoralists but are different from Umoja community,
Here in samburu, men in a inner circle to discuss important village issues during meeting while the women outside only when they express their opinion only when they are asked to do so.
According to history, Umoja first member all came from the isolated Samburu community marked across the Rift valley, ever since then, women and girls who heard of the refuge come and learn how to trade as the community were known with making of jewelries, beads and tourist material.
They also train and educate women and girls from surrounding samburu villages on issues such as early marriage and FGM. Beautiful and magnificent jewelries is an important achievement of samburu culture where ladies got their first necklaces from their father in a ceremony known as ” beading” by choosing an older man warrior who would will enter into a temporary marriage with the daughter.
To the Samburu pregnancy is forbidding and the act of preventing conception was unavailable, so once a lady is pregnant she will be asked to abort the child. Even when a girl married in early age she won’ t be able to carry out her mothering care to her children and giving birth could be a challenge due to the bleed, rupture as a result of been too young for marriage. They are through into taking care of their father animals.
How does the Umoja increase in number?
As the culture demand of every Umoja woman to remain unmarried, yet they bring men outside from a neighboring community in order to help in conception. These are cattle rearers tender with the responsibility of impregnating the women.
Since men are not allow to stay in the community. This was not done as rape but a free penetration into them in other to increase. Though, women in Umoja performed the duty of cooking and washing of cloths while children graze cattle’ s.
In conclusion, Umoja village is governed by the older ladies while the younger female serves as warriors in addition to the grazing habit also as Matriarchal village in nature. Above all, they run a primary school, cultural center and camping site for tourists visiting the adjacent Samburu National reserve. The benefit from creating and selling of jewelries.