Traditional Maasai Mara Village

So this article is about touring a ‘traditional’ Maasai Mara village, but here’s a little context.

After the hot air balloon we kept on driving with David, Faryar and I sitting on the roof of the jeep for a while. I asked David a question about gazelle horns and then he noticed us riding on the roof and told us to get down.

We meet up with Gibson and then game drove for several hours. We got within 5 feet of a fucking lion. At some point a bunch of elephants got real close to us as well and Gibson kept moving the car. Clearly he is more afraid of elephants than of lions.

The Village

We get back around 15.30 and then rest a bit before touring a Maasai Mara village for $20 US. Pretty fucking steep. We walk up and there’s a fence made of sticks and then a little opening—the gate to the village. Inside is about 20 mud shacks ringing a central area that must serve as a community square. People are kind of milling around, possibly waiting for us.

They put on a bit of a production for us and it was somewhat awkward. Farhad and I–the two men–joined the village men for a dance and they dressed us up in their traditional red robe and one of their wood walking sticks. Their people wear the red to they can see each other out in the fields—and the animals are scared of the red color.

They had a lion mask made out of the head of lion. He put it on Farhad first and then me. When a man comes of age at 15 they teach him the warrior skills and then he must hunt a lion. We finish our guys only dance, ending with three high jumps. The jumping competition is used a courtship ritual to exhibit strength. We mimic their choreography as best we can but clearly look ridiculous. Faryar stands there laughing at us and snapping photos.

Next up on our little cultural tour they showed us how they made fire through means of friction. I have some flashbacks to Grade 6 social studies videos depicting this in Inuit traditions. I never was able to do it. They take a machete and shave off part of the bottom of stick . Then you put this stick in this wooden piece as long as your hand with some holes in it. The stick fits in pretty flush and then you use your hands to spin it back and forth really fast and it starts to smoke and  ultimately leaves you with an ember. I tried to do it but failed. The local guy did it in like 10 seconds after I gave up.

Then we go in one of the mud and stick huts they have in the village. It’s smoky and dark, a little fire pit in the middle has a tiny fire. I ask if they have problems with asthma, what with the fire place in the middle of the floor. “We’re used it to it he says”, coughing shortly after. They tell us about their customs. The women build the houses and gather the water. They’re villages are semi-nomadic, moving every 10 years due to termites.

Of course now it’s souvenir time and they bring their wares to use to hawk. Wow how traditional, When they’re not living off the grid they’re selling souvenirs? Only a few items, a collection of three. A lions tooth necklace, a copper bracelet, and another necklace. They want too much money for it, $35 for the lion. I give them $20 on account of being charitable and wanting the lions tooth from one of their hunts. It all seems a little put on for us., but I think perhaps these types of arrangements are bound to be awkward. What are they going to do, bore us to death as we watch their mundane life? We’re not cultural ethnographers after all.

Afterwards I realized it was pretty much a load of bull-shit.

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