Africa Safari (Kenya) Pt.17
So you head south past the Somali Ostrich family,
take a right at the gnarly trunked Acacia tree,
then follow the cattle path directly to the front gate of the Masai village. The door is open and they will be expecting you. Hopefully, the perimeter brush fence kept the lions out, the cattle in, and everyone safe last evening.
Welcome to our village. Be careful of where you step. Although you may see our cattle in the pasture behind us, they were right where you are standing last night.
Come, let us show you our home. Its frame is constructed of tree saplings woven with vines and stuccoed with layers of moist cow dung right from our center corral. Inside are two sleeping chambers separated by a small common area with a cooking pit. Duck your head and come in but first let your eyes adjust, no windows you know, just a couple of small slits to let some, but not all, of the smoke out … no dangerous critters or malaria carrying mosquitoes that way. Hope it stays green, hate to be forced to move for adequate pasturing, you realize it will take a couple of months to build a new home if we go.
Let us introduce you to some of our young warriors. We are a society steeped in tradition and they would like to share a ceremonial dance with you. Just don’t ask any questions concerning the lion’s mane headdress and our custom of slaying a lion with our spear as passage into full warrior status. Times are changing.
Rhythmic chants and claps accompany a friendly leaping contest.
When in the tall grass herding our cattle and goats, this jumping ability gives us the vantage point we need to see predators approaching our livestock.
At the very start of our Kenyan safari, we had visited a village just outside Samburu National Park. Like the Masai, the Samburu tribesmen are also semi-nomadic herdsman. Their wealth is determined by the number of cattle and goats they own, and as Stephen, chief of this Samburu clan pointed out, the number of wives they could afford. Stephen is quite the entrepreneur charging a $20 per person fee to visit his village. He has built a small school and hired a teacher but I am fairly confident he has been the beneficiary of a cow or two in the process.
Because the temperature is so much hotter in the arid northeast, these junior Samburu warriors dress completely different from their Masai counterparts. The head wear is very fashionable.
This young woman’s headdress announces she is looking for a husband. Any prospect will be negotiating her dowry with her father in terms of cattle and sheep.
John Gerlach, organizer of the safari, has visited these two villages on many occasions. As a result of his relationship, these proud, unassuming, self-reliant people have shared a moment in time with us and left an indelible image of life on the savanna.