the African tribe….Maasai

For me, while on safari in Kenya among such magnificent creatures and breathtaking landscapes, I like to think about the native people who call this place home.

The Maasai.

To learn about new cultures is so exciting. To tread on their land, hold their hands, be invited into their homes, and share their life is almost indescribable. To learn more about the Maasai people, please click HERE. What I would like to do is share some personal experiences from the two times that I’ve been able to visit these people in a Mara village.

The Maasai have a greeting that they do for people visiting their village. They perform this outside their village before you enter.

The Maasai are the tribe most well known for their jumping abilities. This year I was determined to get into the mix and see how high I could jump. I’m glad that no one has a picture of my pathetic white man lame jump, but is was fun nonetheless. But I did get a picture of another white man jumping from our group this year, and Matt did much better than I…

Check this out so see the amazing jumping abilities the Maasai have.

After these rituals, you are invited into their village. The Maasai build their homes out of cow dung. In fact, it is covering most of the land inside the village area. This leads to flies everywhere. We are invited into one of their homes. Being short of stature myself, I never really noticed how small their homes are…

(I’m only 5’4, with shoes, and the door is behind us)

This year as we were walking around with the villagers, I could not help but notice possibly the oldest person I’ve ever seen sitting against one of the dung huts ( and I’ve seen plenty of elderly people in my profession) staring right at me…

It was strange as this was probably the first and only time that I’ve had an initial reaction of fear while in Africa. I couldn’t understand my irrational fear, but I walked quickly away. Later, as we were getting ready to leave, I turned and saw him standing, looking right at me.

I asked one of the tribal leaders ” Who is this person?” he laughed and told me it was his father, the elder tribesman of the village.
” He is almost 100 years old, and still has seven of his original 12 wives”
( Maasai practice polygamy)
” Can I talk to him?” I asked. ” Of course” the son stated. ” He is just a little hard of hearing….

As i approached him, I felt not fear anymore,but instead a great respect and admiration for this man. Thoughts of what he has seen in his years on earth. When I stood before him, shook his hand and said hello, he smiled at me. It was a face I’ll never forget. So full of kindness and wonder.

Another great moment was when one of the Maasai warriors wanted to listen to an Ipod that someone from the team had. It was so ironic to me, seeing a Maasai listening to an Ipod, and I was curious as to what he was listening to.
He let me have one of the ear buds for me, and we stood side by side, singing and dancing ( which I’m sure was quite a sight!) to Bob Marley’s ” no women, no cry” followed by ” could you be loved”.

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Another memory this year was when the Maasai brought a Maasai cow to the group. Maasai ( and other tribes in Africa) have a technique in which they will drink cow’s blood for nutrition. They do not kill the cow during the process… some may think this barbaric, I found it fascinating. They first put a tourniquet around the cow’s neck.

I’ll let you watch what happens next ( warning : I would probably put down your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate)

The best part was after this was done, two of our team members, Jeff and Skip, actually drank some! I was going to, but a conversation just before this about mad cow disease made me chicken out.

Jeff’s comment after he took a drink :
“You know how when you have a bloody nose and it drips down the back of your throat….yeah, kind of like that…”
Doesn’t he look satisfied?
I love the Maasai. Please enjoy this to see more of this amazing culture….

and you can get your shoes scraped when you say goodbye.

6 Comments

  1. I think I would chicken out too to drink cow's blood. I love how the Maasai greet new people to their village. It sounds and looks like a ritual we all should establish with foreigners in our homes. The iPod photograph and you shaking hands with the old man are touching.

  2. Hahaha yeah JD warned me before we visited them last year that we might see that. He was all worried and totally surprised when I said I totally would have had some!

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?