Masai Heartland - Loita Hills

Masai Mara Game Reserve Travel Blog

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Me and the "Lion-Killer" being distracted by something!

Its been about a week now in Africa and I have to say I absolutely love it! Kenya is such a beautiful country, we’ve covered much of the south of Kenya and every few hours it seems like the landscape is different.  From the Great Rift Valley, to a forest full of acacias, down to the south were I am now in the Masai Mara, where its open savannah  In addition to the natural beauty here, the people seem very friendly and genuine, especially the kids.  

We’ve spent the last 3 days in the south of Kenya, near Narok Town, in and around the Masai Mara Game Reserve.  The Masai Mara is world renown for its abundant wildlife and for its Masai tribes.  While here the first night we camped near a Masai village named Loita Hills; visiting this remote village was part of the cultural aspect of the trip.
Beautiful Masai women dancing
  Here, we were met by one of the senior elders of the village, named Josphat.  Josphat was very candid about the lifestyle of the Masai, especially in the fact that there was NO equality amongst men and women, women were, in Masai culture, inferior to men.  Know I’m not sure if I mentioned the dynamic of our tour group, out of the 13 of us, 9 were women, 10 strong, very independent women! Lol so this notion of women being inferior did not sit well with them, but of course with respect they all bit their tongues.  The women in the village, raise the kids, build their own houses, cook food, and generally take care of the men.  O’ did I mention the men were allowed to have multiple wifes as well! Women are only allowed to be married to one man, and have no say in the choosing of their husbands’ other wifes.
The Chief of Loita Hills
  Hello Inequality! Lol  Although this idea of the women being inferior does not work in the western world, from my high-level view of this society it is accepted and the women seem happy.  A lot of the non-western world is based in culture and tradition, so who are we to judge I guess.  

That afternoon, we got to visit the village with Josphat.  We were brought into an area were they keep their cows and goats to be entertained by the women of the village. [Before I continue, I should mention that of our some group I was elected the “Chief”! That’s right respect! ;)  As part of Masai culture before entering any village, any group from outside the village needs to be represented by a leader, a Chief.  A chief can only be male as well! Hmm, yes that didn’t go to well with one or two of the stronger women in the group! Lol.
Masai Warriors dancing (Steve!)
  Since it was down to only me, Gavin, Simon and Jon, we selected the chief based on age.  Yeah for me I’m old, so I was named Chief!] Now back to the story, the women of the village, all beautifully dressed in their traditional masai dress, gathered within the circle and started to dance and sing songs.  Soon after they got the women in our group to join them.  Like back in the dessert in Rajasthan, it was amazing to see the two cultures meet each other.  The Masai women were in awe of the western women in or group, and vice versa.  Soon after the dancing, I was introduced to the Chief of the village, an old, old man they said was over 100 year’s old.  You could see his age in his face and eyes, apart from the Australia ball cap he wore, he too was in traditional Masai dress.
Me and Simon in a jump off with the Warriors looking on!


That night we returned to the campsite and after dinner, we all sat by the campfire to hear the origins of the Masai from Josphat.  Picture that, a Masai elder sitting there with a group of westerners, by campfire, in the middle of the African savannah, explaining the origins of his people. Amazing.  Josphat, explained that the Masai were sent to Earth along with their cattle and goats by their god Encai to live here in Africa.  Originally they were in the northern highlands of Kenya, but then when the Whiteman came, they were pushed south towards Northern Tanzania and now have settled here in and around Masai Mara and the Serengeti.  Not all of the Masai were able to cross to southern Kenya/northern Tanzania and the ones that remained in the north of the country are called the Samburu Masai.
Me and the kids of the village sharing a laugh
  He went further to talked about their daily lifes, how all men born Masai were destined for three duties in life, one, to raise cattle, two, to become a warrior, and three, to go to school.  Each one’s destiny was determined by the father at birth.  Those that were able to go to school, like our tour leader Julius, did not have their bottom ear lobes cut in Masai tradition and they too were also given Christian names.  Ah the Christians at work again.. Josphat explained that the biggest threat to their culture was Christianity, unfortunately.  Nevertheless, the male child has no choice in his destiny.  Those that are to become the feared Masai Warriors are, at a young age about 12 or 13, taken into a larger group of warriors and sent off into the bush to live and learn to become men.
  There they learn how to kill animals and use weapons.  Before they are to marry they are supposed to (as a group) kill a lion, which once killed, has to be brought back to the village elders for proof.  Which then the main “lion killer” is given a hat with the mane of the lion to wear.  Our tour leader Julius was a “lion-killer”.  Once they have killed and proved they are true warriors they are able to marry, but first they must be circumcised. YUP that’s right at about 15-20, they boys/men are circumcised! Women are circumcised at this age too! Again, the women in our group were not impressed.  While being circumcised the men are not allowed to flinch, cry, or show any fear.  If they do, they are labelled week and may not marry.
Showing the warriors their photos
  Damn!

The next morning, the men in our group were greeted by the warriors.  Talk about intimidating! They are all tall, cover in red ochre, have spears and look mean as fck! But hey, they actually turned out to be really nice guys! Lol  For us they did a little ritual dance and then jumped for us.  For those that have seen National Geographic specials on the Masai, the warriors are known to jump very high.  The guy that could jump the highest was named….yup you guessed it, STEVE! Lol After the warriors jumped, they invited us guys to jump with them.  I thought I did pretty good, well that’s until Steve basically jumped 2 feet higher then I did! But all in good fun.  :) After words we got to take some pictures with them and throw spears and clubs!  Good time.
Ru the Masai Warrior!


Being the only coloured person in the group was interesting.  As in every place I travel to I get looked at, in China I got laughed at, but here in Africa, like every other place I travel, there was a genuine interest in me and who I was.  To the Masai, they didn’t believe I was from Canada, they thought I must be from close to Nairobi, since Canada seemed so far for a dark man.  No foreign black man had ever visited them one of the Elders told me.  During our photo time, the warriors would come to me and touch the hair on my arms, look at my with a childish curiosity and then they would pose with me for a photo, it was great fun! At one point, I wore a Masai blanket, and held a spear, to them I was one of them, an equal.  Who would of have thought these fearless warriors would stand with me and we all would laugh and share huge smile together.  Very cool :)

Our time in the village soon ended, but not before the Chief of the village ask me to come with him, so he could give me a gift.  I had to choose two others from my group to come as well, so I chose the two eldest women.  We all went to the Chief’s hut, where he offered me a handcrafted Masai walking stick.  What an honour.  I’ve come all this way, to the heartland of Africa, frankly to the cradle of humankind, and a Masai Chief gives ME a gift. Wow.

Two days in the Masai Mara on game drive awaits!

Ru
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Me and the Lion-Killer being dis…
Me and the "Lion-Killer" being di…
Beautiful Masai women dancing
Beautiful Masai women dancing
The Chief of Loita Hills
The Chief of Loita Hills
Masai Warriors dancing (Steve!)
Masai Warriors dancing (Steve!)
Me and Simon in a jump off with th…
Me and Simon in a jump off with t…
Me and the kids of the village sha…
Me and the kids of the village sh…
Showing the warriors their photos
Showing the warriors their photos
Ru the Masai Warrior!
Ru the Masai Warrior!
Masai Mara Game Reserve
photo by: Apurva_N