Kenya

March 17, 2017

Maasai Mara

  • This is Raphael.

He, like all his other brothers, has a duty in his tribe. His duty consists of making sure tourists come visit and get to know more about their village in exchange for a very fair fee.

He guided my group from the hotel to the village (which was less than 1km away). And told us some fun facts about the Maasai people on his tribe.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Almost all Maasai tribes are polygamous, which means, men can marry multiple women but are expected to maintain each one of them in a house of their own with their respective children. Normally they have around 6 wives. (They take turns)
    This means, all the members of the tribe are family. They all come from the same grandfather, who is the leader of the tribe and, of course, different mothers.
    Now, imagine you see the village from above. All houses are built in a circle as if they were hours in a clock. The main entrance to the village would be at 6. The grandpa/leader’s first wife’s house has to be the first one on the left (at 7 o’clock) and the second one to the right (at 5) and so on.
  • Every time a new member is born, they count 8 years so they start building a new village somewhere. That’s the normal time that termites take to basically eat their homes). They can’t be built too far because they always have to be near the local school). So in the 9th year, they move to their new village.
  • No one in the village has a personalized duty. All they do is just get up in the morning, gather in the middle of the village and assign a duty for the day to each one.
  • They don’t dance, they JUMP. Men in the village perform a type of competition between each other in order to find out who is the strongest, or the most masculine one. They take turns to jump as high as they can. Highest jumper = manliest man.
  • After turning 18, in order to become a “man”, they have to be able to kill a lion by themselves. After they, they make a new lion skin hat and wear it as a sign of power.
  • Their houses are made of mud and sticks. They are shaped like igloos with wooden doors, and from inside you can see absolutely nothing but the little ray of light coming from a window the size of my hand. Although they used to live in the dark, now thanks to a foreigner that came by a couple of year ago, they all have this mason jars with a light bulb that can be powered by sunlight.

For me, it was an amazing and humbling experience to be able to get so close to their homes and so touching to see how, even when they have so little, they share and open their homes to others.

I definitely recommend visiting a Maasai-Mara village if you have the opportunity.

 

 

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