Joe Bürgi and his wife, Ursula, are perennial travellers and photographers from Switzerland. Their passion for the exploration of off-the-beaten-track destinations has allowed them to compile a catalogue of unique photos that tell inspiring, eye-opening stories of remote tribes that are largely unknown to the rest of the world.
In this gallery, we showcase a series of photos of the nomadic, pastoralist Turkana tribe in northern Kenya. These photos are a true reflection of the raw, harsh environment that they inhabit, and the pride that they possess is a testament to their cultural beliefs. It is astonishing, enthralling and above all, real.
The Turkana tribe inhabit the Turkana district in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province. They form part of the Nilotic tribes and are regarded as the third largest pastoralist community in Kenya, after the Kalenjin and Luo, being slightly more numerous than the Maasai.
Similar to the Maasai and Samburu, the Turkana wear colourful clothing and regalia. Women adorn themselves with brightly-coloured, beaded necklaces, and the men dye their hair with specially-coloured soil. The social standing of a woman in the tribe is evident by the quantity and style of jewellery that she wears.
The Turkana are quite adept at crafting their own jewellery – such as the stunning bracelets and necklaces that the women wear. They are also quite proficient in woodcarving, stone carving and metalwork, producing their own weapons such as spears, clubs and knives.
Like cattle, camels can also be negotiated as bridewealth, slaughtered on ritual occasions, and are also given between men to create or to affirm pragmatic friendships.
Due to the high value the Turkana place on their livestock, often they will raid other tribes to acquire more animals. Even though this could be seen as theft from an outsiders point of view, it is considered a perfectly acceptable traditional custom amongst the Turkana and other pastoralist tribes in northern Kenya.