Masai Mara, Kenya
I was super jazzed about traveling to Masai Mara for one main reason: To have the opportunity to encounter the Masai people personally. The Masai are a semi-nomadic indegenous community in East Africa. They settled mostly in Kenya and northern Tanzania.
My travel companions and I asked our guide Joshua about whether it was possible to visit one of the Masai communities. It turned out that the one of the villages was within walking distance of our glamping site. One of the men of the village, Solao, actually worked as security at the site and offered to walk us over. The village asked that we give them a donation for visiting with them and they have items that they sell as souvenirs. The proceeds from these goes to the larger community and is then disseminated accordingly.
The fascinating thing about the Masai are that they are such an old community (migrating to Kenya circa the 17th century) that still lives very traditionally but are still situated in the modern world. They do not have electricity or running water and build their homes out of clay, water, and cow dung. Only in the last couple of decades have they started to require education for their children. So the adult men, in particular that I met were illiterate and only learned English through interacting with tourists largely. Bananas right?
The boys are required to go out into the bush at 14 for four years to learn how to be men, including having to kill a lion. There seems to be some debate about this, but that’s what Salao and the king’s son told us. The warriors are distinguishable also because they are missing one of their lower front teeth.
Talking with Salao, and the king’s son Luware who was 27, I learned a few interesting things. Usually the Masai do not marry until they are close to or in their thirties. They spend time learning their family trades and becoming wise so that they will be able to be husbands. Even now the education only goes up to a basic primary education but they have their own community schools.
Some of the men of the community performed a couple of the tribal dances including the jumping contest that the men do. The winner of these contests have demonstrated that they are both strong and capable which lovers the dowry that they have to pay for a wife. You heard me: They still pay dowries, family.
The Masai were very gracious and kind people. I toured with Luware, who may be next to be king. Don’t worry this is not going to be a Coming to America scene. She ain’t your queen to be. I also almost got run over by two fighting cows, but such as life. Until next time!
Love and Light,