When I was a little girl living in Clarksdale, Mississippi, I would go to my grandparents’ house a few days each week. My grandfather had an old recliner that he sat in while he watched the weather channel. To a 4 year old, it seemed like all day. I would crawl in the space between his chair and the wall, and would flip through the waxy pages of his National Geographic magazines. Even at 4, I was in awe of the beautiful textiles and jewelry the women from around the world wore. I would stay behind his chair day dreaming that I too had those glorious outfits, until I inevitably kicked the back of his chair one to many times, and he would make my grandmother take me in to another room.

I, of course, would run into my grandmother’s closet and try to recreate the fashions I had just seen. I would put on every necklace, bracelet, and broach she owned. And let me tell you that was A LOT. I would parade around the house and put on a fashion show for them both. My grandfather would say, “we got a wild one on our hands,” while my grandmothers would smile and call me her little diva.

I may not be flipping through the bound pages of Nat. Geo. these days but due to the wonderful invention of social media, I can follow them on Instagram! I have to say my favorite photos are still the ones with all the jewelry. So that got me thinking, all the photos with the beautifully colored fabric and ornate beading, those photos are taken of women living in developing nations.

Coco Chanel once said “before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” … well, Coco, no offense, I mean you are the mother of modern fashion, but let me introduce you to the ladies of the Samburu tribe of Kenya.

They are one of Africa’s most unique cultures. The Samburu people are often recognized for their fascinating beauty and ornamental appearance. Samburu is translated to “butterflies.” This name was actually given to them by other tribes because of the several layers of beaded jewelry, face painting, and colorful clothing worn by this people group. I learned of this group through a project by a lady named Ami Vital who is heading up a project to stop poaching in Kenya. Her story can be found on here and by following @natgeo on Instagram.

Come to find out I am not such a diva after all…

Samburu women making traditional jewelry to sell to tourists at the West Gate Conservancy to help
protect their land from poachers.

Post by Faith Gallian