Sunday, February 6, 2011

A visit to a Masai Village and more

Today, following a morning game drive, and a visit to the local airstrip to pick up a friend, we visited a nearby Masai manyatta.  We were greeted with singing by the women and men of the community. They were dressed in their traditional red cloth clothing and many beads from head to toe.  The women make the beads, and sell them to tourists to help support the community.

 Julius, our Masai guide showed us many interesting customs and procedures used by the Masai.  He and several of the warriors showed us how to make fire using two sticks- hardwood of the acacia tree and soft wood of the cedar tree.  Three of the men made a fire in a few minutes. (I'm sure campers can do something similar, but I was impressed).  We saw a group playing a game of mancala using stones, and their hands were flying.  Sometimes the winners walk away with additional cows or goats- but not today.

 We visited a typical home made of mud and cow dung.  The homes are made by the women there and takes 6 weeks to build. The hut will last approximately 10 years.  Julius told us that many Masai continue to practice polygamy and many families share the same manyatta.  Each wife has her own mud hut.  Children in the enclave are welcome to sleep in any home in the manyatta. Masai girls, in recent years, must attend school which has made the marriage age later for most. In the recent past it was not unusual for girls as young as 13 and 14 to be married to much older men.

The children sang a song for us, recited the alphabet and solved several math problems using a stick as a pencil and the ground as the tablet. There are several government schools nearby, and some of the men and women had graduated from the schools and were well educated.  They continue to choose to live a traditional life that has few frills.  They normally eat grains, milk mixed with cows blood and goat or cow meat on special occasions.  They told us that their biggest challenge is water- something we hear from every community throughout Kenya.  They walk 10 Kilometers each way to the nearest bore hole. During this dry season, there is never enough!

We also had the opportunity to purchase hand made items from the women.  It was a hard sell, and we didn't walk away without buying several items. We enjoyed the visit and learned much about the lives of these interesting, colorful people.

Tomorrow we head for Arusha and a visit to St. Margaret's school.  St. Margaret's has many supporters in the Minnesosta area, and Diamond Path Elementary has sent many pen pal letters to be delivered.  We look forward to the vist.  Tanzania, here we come!

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