After The Rains Came.

I directed and edited After The Rains Came: Seven short stories about objects and lifeworlds as part of a period of my MA Visual Anthropology ethnographic research among the cow herding Samburu people of Northern Kenya. My original intention had been no explore the biographical nature of Samburu bodily adornment, but there was a twist: this region had been suffering a long drought and it did not feel appropriate to make a film about beads while people were just trying to survive.

My contact insisted I came anyway, and our bus was accompanied by a huge raincloud that emptied itself the moment I arrived, giving rise to my being given a name – Nashangai – ‘The one who came with rain’. Quite a responsibility to carry whenever I go back but so far it has held true.

Thus began this metaphorical ‘life cycle’, with each of the seven vignettes describing a different stage: regeneration/rebirth > childhood and acculturation > adolescence and the passage into adulthood > pregnancy and the associated spirit world > special births > the blurred nature of myth and reality as expressed through a wedding, and finally the breakdown of a relationship and natural decay.

The film is also structured as a Samburu necklace is: bright bands of colour punctuated with black – the colour of a heavy rain cloud and also of their god Nkai. The Samburu believe that anything made by the hands of man must have pauses to acknowledge Nkai. Hence my incorporating periods of black between vignettes.

I woke everyday to the sound of a thousand cattle bells and slept to the sound of warriors singing to their girlfriends. I hope this film goes some way to portraying this sensuous terrain I had the fortune to inhabit.

The production of this film was generously sponsored by the One World Media Fund and The British Institute in Eastern Africa.

  • Sarah Thomas
  • 2006