I was asked by a Samburu Moran (warrior) to hold the back of his young brother during his initiation. I had no idea at the time what this meant, or the significance of it to us both, but I did know it was an incredible honour. I met him one week beforehand and we talked briefly, before he returned to his friends and football. He was wearing blue beads along with vulture quills, and on the very end of the necklace, wing covers from beetles. All these signified his metamorphosis from boy to Moran (warrior) and flight his from the home he’s spent his entire life in up until this point. His family will now be the other Moran from his clan, who for the next 13 years he will live alongside in the bush. Once initiated, the beads will pass to his mother who will wear them and remember her child who has now flown the nest. These tribes were given lion skins and vultures quills from Kenya Wildlife Services who distribute them to the Samburu from natural mortalities, thus negating the necessity for them to kill wildlife for these ceremonies. I made him shoes out of cow hide and fitted them to his feet; he would wear only these for the month of his metamorphosis into a warrior. I struggled to sleep in my tent not quite knowing what to expect, listening to the songs of warriors and initiates from the surrounding villages. At 02.00 am I left the tent and in darkness arrived at his hut, which was already surrounded by elders singing songs of courage and support, songs that will help him be strong and carry him into manhood. I’d been told what to expect and what I was required to do, but now when for once I was part of the story, and not an observer, it felt oh so very different. I was to hold his back as the nurse circumcised him. He stood on a cow skin at the door of the home that he’d been brought up in. He was blessed and milk poured on to his shaven head causing him to sit abruptly on the skin. I sat behind him, my legs on either side of his body, I placed my left hand over his forehead and eyes and held his head very tightly to my chest. My right hand I held tightly across his chest, my hand on his heart. He couldn’t see the nurse now sitting in front of him, or the elders surrounding us, but he could hear them, and I could see and hear them both. As the nurse skilfully worked his heart exploded under my hand, and then calmed to a steady beat. We lifted him back into his home and quietly left. He had not made a sound, he was a warrior. I returned as the sun came up, and throughout the day to check on him. I hadn’t expected to see, hadn’t expected to feel, the extraordinary birth of a warrior.