Leisure Recreation and the Arts

Typically, members of all age-gender categories have a fair amount of leisure. The more a family is able to subsist on their livestock, the more gender-balanced leisure tends to be. Children have the least pure leisure time; herding and play are often completely intermingled.

Men and women often engage in leisure activities in same-gender social groups. Women like to engage in handicrafts together, while men enjoy games of ntotoi (a variety of the mbao game common in Eastern Africa), talking, or (since their recent introduction) drinking locally brewed alcoholic beverages. The gender segregation found in leisure activities is largely voluntary but also has ritual implications in some areas. For example, women are barred from playing ntotoi because it is said that men cursed the game for women. Samburu leisure activities are often art forms and recreation simultaneously. Singing and dancing by male and females of all ages accompanies many rituals, but can also be purely recreational. Women may also sing while milking their cows, praising and encouraging the cow as it is being milked.

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