Umoja Uaso, women-only city near Nairobi, Kenya

Uncategorised Posted by gaytravel on  Thu, Feb 8th, 2018 @ 8:58:46 AM  8  0    

Umoja Uaso, women-only city near Nairobi, Kenya

Umoja Uaso is a women’s village in Kenya, 380 km (240 miles) from the capital Nairobi. It is located in Samburu County, near the town of ‘Archers Post’. Umoja Uaso was founded in 1990 by Rebecca Lolosoli, a Samburu woman, as a refuge for homeless victims of violence. Women and young girls who escaped forced marriage responded. All men are banned from this village. The women of the Samburu disagree with violence and the traditional subordinate position of women. They run a primary school, a cultural center and a camping site for tourists visiting the nearby Samburu National Reserve. They make and sell jewelry to benefit the village.
Image © Jean Crousillac (Manta Productions) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Biography of Rebecca Lolosoli founder and matriarch of Umoja Uaso

Lolosoli was born in the village of Wamba in 1962. She was one of a family of six brothers and sisters. And 18 she married with a dowry consisting of 17 cows. She created her own business and stood up for the rights of other women in the village. Once she was beaten by four men but her husband did nothing to help her. For that reason she left him. In 1990, she and a few other women founded the village of Umoja, and made it a woman-only space.

In 1995, the women of Umoja elected her to chair the Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO), a post she held for ten years.

In 2005, Lolosoli attended a United Nations conference in New York. She received death threats from local men over her stance on women’s rights just before she went to New York. Umoja was attacked and threatened, this time in 2009 by her former husband. In 2010, she was awarded the Global Leadership Award from Vital Voices.


History of Umoja Uaso


Family – © Jean Crousillac (Manta Productions) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Samburu women have a subordinate position in their society. They can’t own land or livestock. Women are considered property of their husbands. They can be subject to female genital mutilation, forced marriage with the elders, rape and domestic violence. In the early 90s, over 600 Kenyan women were raped by British soldiers following reports. A case was brought up against the military for the rapes of over 1,400 Samburu women but it was cleared. The women were abandoned by their husbands for being “defiled”. Other men drove the women out of their houses out of fear for sexually transmitted diseases. All these women who were without home now, created Umoja. Rebecca Lolosoli is one of the founders. She came up with the idea of creating a village for women when she was recovering after being beaten for speaking out. Eventually fifteen women gathered to found the original village in 1990. In response, some men established their own, eventually unsuccessful villages nearby. The men tried to set up a rival craft business or would try to dissuade tourists from stopping at Umoja. The women eventually bought the land the men were occupying. The villagers first started out by selling vegetables they bought from others, since they did not know how to farm themselves. This was not very successful, and the village turned to selling traditional crafts to tourists. The Kenya Wildlife Services took notice and helped the women learn from successful groups in areas such as the Maasai Mara, in order to improve Umoja’s business. The women also had help from Kenya’s Heritage and Social Services and the Ministry of Culture. After Lolosoli visited the United Nations in 2005, men in the neighboring village filed a court case against her, hoping to shut down the village. In 2009, Lolosoli’s former husband attacked the village, threatening her life. For a time, the women fled the village for their safety. The women of the village currently own the land itself.


About Umoja Uaso

Paulina et Margaret

Paulina and Margaret – © Jean Crousillac (Manta Productions) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Umoja is located in north-central Kenya in Samburu County, near Archers Post. The village is made up of manyata huts built from a mixture of earth and cow dung on an abandoned grassland. The houses are surrounded by a fence of thorns and barbed wire. The objective of the village’s inhabitants is to “improve the livelihoods of women due to rampant poverty and counter the problem of women being abandoned by their families”. The village also receives runaways or girls who have been thrown out of their households, raises orphans, abandoned children and children with HIV. The village has also provided asylum for women fleeing violence from the Turkana District. Residents in the community must all wear the traditional clothing and beadwork of the Samburu people. Female genital mutilation is forbidden in the village.


Population of Umoja Uaso

Men are permitted to visit the village, but not allowed to live in Umoja. Only men who were raised as children in Umoja may sleep in the village. In 2005, there were 30 women and 50 children living in Umoja. From 2015 on, there were 47 women and 200 children living in the village.

Economy of Umoja Uaso

Residents of Umoja are engaged in traditional Samburu crafts which they sell at the Umoja Waso Women’s Cultural Center. Crafts include colorful beads, a home-brewed low-alcohol beer analogue and more. The items are also available on a website. The women also run a campsite for tourists or here. Every woman donates ten percent of their earnings to the village as a tax to support the school and another needs.

Education in Umoja Uaso

In traditional society, children are engaged in tending livestock, but in Umoja, all children can get an education. There is a primary school that can accommodate 50 children. The village has also been able to open a nursery school. Residents of the village go to other villages to promote women’s rights and in order to campaign against female circumcision.


The women of the village gather under the “tree of speech” to make decisions for the town. Lolosoli serves as the chairperson of the village. All women in the village have equal status to one another.

Femme Samburu à la RoseSamburu woman – © Jean Crousillac (Manta Productions) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Websites and youtube movie

Watchman before the river Uaso Nyiro

Watchman in front of the Uaso Nyiro river – © Jean Crousillac (Manta Productions) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Remark: There exist also men-only cities and islands.

The Documentary Movie

Affiche Umoja

Affiche Umoja

Umoja: The Village Where Men Are Forbidden is a French documentary film about the Kenyan village Umoja. For nearly 30 years, hundreds of women living in Umoja say they were raped by British soldiers in northern Kenya. Accused of having brought shame on their community, they are beaten by their husbands and divorced. A handful of them created Umoja, the village prohibits men who became the refuge of Samburu women. Jealous men regularly attack the village and cause problems for its founder Rebecca Lolosoli.

Find the movie on IMDB: Umoja: The Village Where Men Are Forbidden


Archers Post Hotels

Hotels in Archers Post: Popularity

HotelStarsDiscountPrice before and discountSelect dates
Ryllod Sunrise Lodge Meru★★★★View hotel
Ashnil Samburu Camp★★★★★View hotel
Sarova Shaba Game Lodge★★★★View hotel
Sabache CampView hotel
Samburu Riverside CampView hotel
Samburu Intrepids Luxury Tented Camp Hotel★★★★View hotel
Saruni SamburuView hotel
Lion's Cave Camp, SamburuView hotel
Elephant Bedroom Camp - Samburu★★★★★View hotel
Samburu Sopa Lodge★★★View hotel

Nairobi Hotels

Further reading about Umoja, women-only city

The village where men are banned
CULTURE: African women go it alone in Umoja: No Men Allowed

Other women-only cities or isles

The island that is only for women – Here men are forbidden!


Kenya Cultural Safari Guide | Umoja | Discover the Women Only Village

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