- The majority of the 500,000-strong Borana tribe live in Kenya but some also live in Ethiopia and Somalia
- Women use clarified butter (ghee) to keep their hair in perfect condition and wear it in elaborate plaits
- Girls have the crown of their heads shaved, with the hair only allowed to grow after they marry
- Other beliefs include the fear that having your
phototaken removes some blood and steals your shadow
- They also believe in a
singlegod named Wak, although more are converting to Christianity and Islam
A nomadic people, their lives revolve around finding good grazing for their herds of camels and cattle, which combined, provide everything they need to survive in the striking semi-arid scrub land they inhabit.
But while men dominate village life and are in charge of the herds, women play a vital role and are in sole charge of building Borana homes and performing the elaborate dances that signal the birth of a baby.
Dressed in her best: A Borana woman wearing traditional garb made from goat skins. The expensive dresses are now kept only for best
Rules: Many of the Borana’s rules
apply to children, including a prohibition on addressing anyone older than themselves by their first name
With so little water to be had, their beauty routine is an unusual one and involves anointing their locks with ghee (clarified butter) to keep hair smooth and shiny.
Girls are given the most striking hairdos and wear the crown of their heads shaved until they marry, at which point the hair is allowed to grow back while the rest is plaited into elaborate designs.
But hair isn’t the only part of life governed by the Borana’s centuries-old laws. The majority of rules apply to children who, for instance, aren’t allowed to call anyone older than themselves by their first names.
Those names are also governed by tribal law and are inspired by the time of day they were born. ‘Boys born in broad daylight are always called Guyo,’ explains photographer Eric Lafforgue who took these incredible pictures.
‘Some are named after a major event, a ceremony (Jil), a rainy season (Rob) or a dry season (Bon). Others are named after weekdays while a few get odd names such as Jaldes (ape), Funnan (nose), Gufu (tree stump) and Luke (lanky long legs).’
Whatever their parents decide to call them, all children are given a place in the social pecking order at birth – and once done, it is rare for it to be changed.
Welcome: The birth of a baby of either gender is marked by a traditional women-only dance which welcomes the infant into the world
Hard work: Women are in sole charge of building Borana homes and since they move four times a year, have to work extremely hard