In Kenya's SORALO and Shompole Lands, Samantha du Toit Takes Us to the Great Rift Valley

In Kenya's SORALO and Shompole Lands, Samantha du Toit Takes Us to the Great Rift Valley

Samantha du Toit (formerly Russell) was born and raised in Kenya. After completing secondary school in Nairobi she went to England to study Zoology and Psychology at Bristol University in England

Upon returning to Kenya, du Toit went straight into working in wildlife conservation with Dr. David Western, founder of the African Conservation Centre. Her first major task was to establish the baseline monitoring of the Shompole and Olkiramatian ecosystem, over eight years ago.

Today the Shompole Conservancy is a large privately operated conservation area in the south of the Great Rift Valley, Kenya. It is located between Lake Magadi to the north and Lake Natron to the south, on the border between Kenya and Tanzania. The conservancy was registered in 1979 and is owned by the Loodokolani Maasi with over 2000 registered members representing around 10,000 Loodokilani Maasai dependents.

Today, Samantha du Toit can be found at the Lale’enok Resource Centre, which she helped establish and now plays a major role in its operations. Or we might find her in the Nairobi SORALO office, helping to manage the affairs of the South Rift Association of Land Owners. This network of shared goals and objectives operates with complementary decision-making and objectives.

A Jewelry Design Journey From Fashionable Omo Valley Arbore Women To Mario Gerth To INIVA Miami

Mario Gerth Arbore tribe woman.jpg

A Jewelry Design Journey From Fashionable Omo Valley Arbore Women To Mario Gerth To INIVA Miami

Serendipity seems to be always at play at Anne of Carversville and in my GlamTribal Jewelry. Close friends think the powers are actually stronger than serendipity in my case, but let me stick with the facts here. The DNA of my GlamTribal collection lies in East Africa, in an area extending from southern Ethiopia’s Omo Valley into the Lake Turkana region, South Sudan and northern Kenya, with a final destination in Nairobi and specifically Kibera. This is not to say that there aren’t more pieces in my puzzle, but my life has wound in and around these pillars for decades.

Hans Silvester’s monumental book ‘Natural Fashion’ (2009) introduced me to the Omo Valley people in 2012, inspiring the first major turn in my vision for GlamTribal. These precious people are living in grave danger of extinction in a modern world, In particular the Gilgel Give III damn threatens their very existence. For five years Italian photographer Fausto Podavini has charted the progress of the damn and its impact on one of Africa’s most remote frontiers. National Geographic updates the story of perhaps epic change in the Omo Valley.

Pierre de Vallombreuse Photographs Gender Equality In Southeast Asia Indiginous Cultures

Pierre de Vallombreuse Photographs Gender Equality In Southeast Asia Indiginous Cultures

"Most of the cultures in Southeast Asia are more based on equality than domination," the photographer explained. For this series 'Souveraines', which was commissioned by Arthaud Publishing, de Vallombreuse "selected four remote cultures where women play decisive and central roles in governance and spirituality—the Khasi, a matrilineal and matrilocal society in northeastern India; the Palawan, a non-hierarchical community in the Philippines; the Mosuo ethnic group in China; and the Badjao, a sea-dwelling group that prefers boats to houses."

It should be noted that female sexuality is more more embraced in these societies, as we've written on AOC, and often it is women who choose their sexual partners, if only for the night. These realities dovetail back to our historical understandings of women's lives before the deterioration of women's rights, escalating dramatically after 10,000 BC.

De Vallombreuse says one of the most striking things he observed in these societies included "fluidity, simplicity, and normality" between men and women. "This should be normal everywhere," he said.