Visiting the Maasai tribe was something I had mixed feelings about, after all entering the village of a people, a proud tribe trying to preserve their culture in a slowly but surely modernized world, following their cattle, nomadic and polygamous, I felt that it was something I’d perhaps like to do without a camera, not coming in and taking pictures and getting a tour. Paying them 1500 Kenyan shillings, it made me feel like it was kind of a sell out and I wasn’t sure which of us was being exploited, them or us. Scarlet really wanted to visit them, and this might be a once in a life time opportunity, and as soon as our car had entered the realms, more and more Maasai people came trickling towards us and started chanting and jumping up and down. They were putting on a show for me and Scarlet only. There was a man who quickly approached us, who knew English and presented himself as our tour guide.
He told me that they are a travelling people, so they find it hard to educate the chilren and teach them English, so they have to pay a teacher to travel with them, and the money tourists bring when they come to the village helps them do this, and makes it possible to continue their lives the way they lead them. I chose to put my sceptisism aside for a while, and enjoyed their dancing and singing, and even joined in!
I really enjoyed watching the women with their kids, how they carried them and threw them around and how they joined in with the dance. After the dance we said a little prayer and they let us enter their village, hidden behind a fence of trees and bushes. Their houses and buildings are all made of wood and cowdung, yes… COWDUNG. As they live of their Cattle in many ways, they really “milk” their cows. The African sun is so hot, it’s so scorching and sharp,
So I found it a pleasant surprise how cool and breezy their cowdung houses was. One bedroom for the kids, and one bedroom for mama and papa. Or Papa and all his Mamas, as some of the men had five wives…. The beds were wicker and cowskin. I asked why their houses were so low, they had to bend down to go inside. And he said that it was because they move, and then they kind of don’t bother making the houses higher or bigger, because they have to build them so often. This made me laugh. They also have a school building that they also use as a church on sundays. I wonder what they preach, as they believe in having several wives. The guide led us around and some of the men taught us to start a fire with a wooden stick and this little piece of wood, which reminded me of primary, I remember our teacher showing us that on a field trip. Then they gave the sticks to us, and for a second I thought it was a genuinely nice gift, until they asked for money. Scarlet wasn’t interested and gave it back, but I payed up a little bit, and thought it would be cool to show my nephews this back home. Although that weird feeling came back… of not really knowing how I feel about this.
Then the tour guide led us to the women, and they were standing there with their traditional jewellery, handmade, ready to sell. Again, I was a bit annoyed, and they all shouted at me to come and look, and pushed me towards the tables. I waited for a while before I said anything, as I saw that as soon as Scarlett even looked at one thing, they would lift it up and start babbling away. I looked to see if I could find something that I liked, and I purchased it after a bit of haggling, as I said I hadn’t planned on coming and didn’t know we needed money, I was able to buy the jewellery for less than half of what was asked in the first place, and then to me felt no different than when the people on the streets are trying to rip me off, selling me things to a “white person” price. I was happy with my purchases nevertheless, and felt I had experienced some cool things, but I left with mixed feelings still.