These are no ordinary wells. The ‘singing wells of Namunyak’ are where Kenya’s Samburu hersdsmen go to sing love songs to their cows. Oh, and to discuss village matters, plan raids and dance with their partners. Gavin Haines gets a rare insight.

The guns, I want to know about the guns: What’s with all the AK-47s?

First, though, let’s talk about cows, which are arriving in ever-greater numbers at this dried-up riverbed in Kenya’s Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy. There are thousands of them and they’ve come to slay their thirst at the dozen or so water troughs that are scattered across the parched earth. Everything is thirsty here.

Next to each trough is a well and in each well a human chain comprised of lithe young men, who pass buckets of water up from the darkened depths to the sunny surface. The men in the wells are naked—their bodies glisten with sweat—and they are singing love songs in the Samburu tongue; not to their wives, who are washing clothes nearby, but to their cows, who are mainly mooing and pooing.