Tag Archives: Maasai

Day 7: August _

Alright, I think it’s safe to say that every insect known to mankind has touched down on me: flies, grasshoppers, ticks, locusts, ants, bed bugs, and fleas–just to name a few. I bought this powder today that is supposed to get rid of fleas and bed bugs so I sprinkled just about the entire thing EVERYWHERE–we’ll see if it works.

I forgot where I was…

Two unexpected pastors showed up to stay the night. One was Maasai and the other Samburu; they were both very nice although one was kind of creepy. We talked a lot about their faith and how they got to where they are today. Of course they have very compelling stories, but I can’t help but think that one of them was doing it for show. They also spoke of the challenges they have faced bring Christianity to the Maasai. It is understandably difficult for them to fuse the two very strong traditions together, but I think there may be ways around this.

While Christian Maasai hold onto a small reminder of their culture, be it a bangle on the arm, spear in the gathering room, or, for the elders, a massive hole in their ear, much has been abandoned.

A lot of the Maasai tradition does not fit with Christianity, but some could be maintained if they wanted. For instance, when boys are initiated as warriors, girls will come and “sing” to them and basically offer their “services.” Well, if you’re a Christian Maasai warrior could you refuse the aforementioned “services?” The same with the parts dealing with alcohol… Where I am, they don’t believe Christians can drink, something I don’t necessarily agree with, but to each their own. Even the 18 year old said they could abstain from certain parts of the ceremony if they didn’t agree with them; however, I am led to believe there’s a bit more to it.

This is by no means a fully developed opinion piece and I am sorry to have led you on. Believe when I say that I will post a more comprehensive post on this topic when I return home.

Day Four: August 1

I woke up a little after the sun today and had water waiting for me to bathe. I  decided to just wash my hair since I wasn’t able to the last time due to my poor rationing skills. I poured some water on my head and yelped because of its scalding temperature. Wow, that is not something you expect from a shower in Africa. It was a very kind gesture for them to boil my water and I do not mean to seem ungrateful at all. Now, I know to wait for the steam to settle before touching the water to my bare skin.

There was no wasting time today before getting to the jobs. All the new trees and other crops needed watering before the sun rose to much and just dried it up, a lesson I learned from my own mom. We also had to remove some of the old fence posts. Following all of that, Joseph and Franco took me exploring for elephants, something I was originally excited about until I saw that they were carrying a spear, machete, and cane. I kept turning around to Franco and asking, “Is this safe? Are you sure this is safe?” I was honestly a little terrified. Although I tried to hide it, they could probably smell my fear–you know, one of those special Maasai skills.

Unfortunately, we saw no elephants this time, only the dung that showed they had been there. We did run into some Maasai groups in the process of migrating to another area, one of which had a herd of about 15 camels. They were dressed in the traditional attire, complete with beads, bangles, and shukkas, some even had the red clay in their hair for conditioning. Their dress gave them the appearance of something very regal and truly beautiful. It didn’t hurt that they stood against one of the most beautiful backdrops I have ever seen–mountains that kissed the clouds on which you could see other bright flashes of color where Maasai were leading their cattle to graze.

Even though we didn’t see any elephants, that trek was by far the highlight of my day. Following our walk, we had lunch and then I was told to go rest (still not sure whether or not that was optional). I also went back into the bush to chop down some limbs to reinforce the fence around the property that the elephants had knocked down the last time they came to drink from the watering hole. I’m not completely sure how the twigs we used this time around will stop them either, but maybe the thorns buried within them will.

Elephants hate the smell of their own blood, so if somehow they got cut, they would never come back. Joseph also has a bow and arrow that he shoots them in the butt with if they come around, that way they bleed and don’t die, then we’d have a court case on our hands.

Oh crap, I just noticed I was laying in a baby cow pie. Likes like I’ll be taking a “wet-wipe” shower tonight rather than the morning.

Day 3: July 31

Today was a church day. I set my alarm for 8 AM but was awakened a lot earlier by the cow and her silly bell as she grazed by my hut.

Following the morning chai and buttered bread, I had my first shower in the bush. I was given the equivalent of about three bottles of water and told to bathe myself. Well, I didn’t ration my water well enough so I was left with a soapy butt and even soapier arm pits. I guess this beats a wet wipe bath, though. The towel did manage to get all the remaining soap off. I had no idea what to wear to church, but I noticed everyone else was wearing the same thing they wore yesterday so I too proceeded to wear the same outfit I’ve worn for three days, but this time opting for a shirt with a collar.

The trek to church was no shorter than any other I’ve been on since being here despite all the “shortcuts” we took. We made two visits, well three, on our way. We were looking for Joseph’s father-in-law but he was at wife number two’s home. We then stopped at Sarah’s, a member of Joseph’s church. I guess now would be a good time to mention that Joseph is a pastor; he has helped start three churches in this area.

There were not too many people at church today. Joseph explained that this was because of it being the dry season so since many of the Maasai are pastoralists they were in another area trying to find water and green grass for their herds. Other than the small numbers, it was a really spiritual experience. It was obvious that they believed whatever it was they were singing. I had no idea what was happening most of the time. Thankfully, one of Joseph’s younger sons sat next to me and tugged at my pant leg every time I was supposed to stand or sit or pray.

Now, I’m sitting by a water hole watching one of the boys wash their clothes, while another pets my arm, and another wraps a plastic ball he made with string. Wh0 knows what the rest of this day will bring.

This time around…

I’m flying out July 27th to live in a Maasai village about an hour and a half south of Nairobi to teach at Kimuka Primary School. I’ll be in Kenya for right at a month, although it may seem a tad longer with no electricity or running water.

Thanks to the Rivers Institute at Hanover College, I received a grant that covered my flight, visa, and program costs. The Rivers Institute provides grants to students interested in doing research at home or abroad. I proposed to study the water crisis in Kenya from an anthropological context. After months of deliberation, I decided that my best bet was to volunteer while doing research; I would be able to find a program that would provide a place for me to stay as well as food, plus I wouldn’t be completely alone in a country I know very little about. The Maasai will be great for my research because they are one of the tribes most affected by global warming and the lack of water in the region.

Traditionally, the Maasai are a pastoral group whose wealth is dependent upon how many cows they have. Cows are meant to roam throughout the Great Rift Valley in search of water and food sources, but today those are limited because of climate change. It will be interesting to see how the Maasai have already been impacted and in what ways their culture has evolved due to the changes. Needless to say, I’m super pumped.

If you like to read and are in need of a good one check out The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior. Part ethnography, part auto-biography, the book provides an excellent glimpse into the life of the Maasai. There’s also a really great blog on here that tells stories from right around where I will be. Go here: http://oracleroulette.com/ and scroll down a tad and you’ll find it.

Things for you to Google: Maasai, Ngong Hills, Water Crisis in Kenya, Great Rift Valley, Pastoral groups

Sam G

I absolutely dig adventure and travel!


Verbal tantrums of a writer & an anxious spectator of life.


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