Two weeks since I got back from Kenya, still nursing a Bad Flu that I contracted after Hitting back to India. All the vaccinations administered before this trip did not seem to Have worked on the Strong ‘ Flu Bug ‘ back here. Sniffing between tissues and coughing all bad, with hubby grumping back there. Wanted to write long back, however with each part of my body muscle screaming out in pain there were no thoughts, that I think would spurt out. So it was one whirlwind trip absolutely for about a week and we drove close to 1500 kilometres all around Kenya. Those roads will definitely test how strong your spine is and if you have endured all that to get back stable, you can consider yourself fit enough. It was me along with three of my friends who love travel as much as me. So there was a Blogger couple whom I met in my Antarctica Adventure last year and my photographer travels Buddy who is always part of my most Journeys. All we did was discover Kenya in our own very distinct way and did not try to get into the other one’s space there.
I had to steal some time away thou from the scheduled stops and visits for some ‘ Me’ time. As I really detest everything ‘ Touristy’ and look at Ways to connect to the places I go in my own very way. So every time I decided to skip that safari drive or visit my driver could blurt out ‘ Kavita is very Lazy’!
We had the most eccentric Driver ‘ Patrick ‘ to start with for our adventurous Journey here, who made me feel all the drivers back home whom we crib about are far more well behaved and mannered in every sense. So every day almost he loved ragging me, and I in turn also would return it with added love and liners. But let me keep him aside for this post, else it can go into pages for sure.
Africa is about wildlife and about the Savana Land. One can write about the Sleepy Lions, Grazing Elephants, Sober Zebras, the real tall Giraffes that you encounter but am more keen to let you know about the much popular ‘ Maasai ‘ Tribe there. They are an interesting lot and to my opinion also a dwindling ethnic one there. I was told they live a very simple life and don’t have much needs, however, what struck me was the tribe wanted us to give them money for a visit to their village and know about their culture there. The explanation we got was it was for the welfare of their children’s education and well kept, but I am sure for them to survive in those harsh conditions with scare water and vegetation this must be one of the means there.
So who are these ‘ Maasai ?’ Why are they extraordinary people and with an extraordinary culture?
They have lived for hundreds of years now in areas around Kenya and Tanzania with their precious cattle which graze in both countries even today. They have a very strong culture which they are trying very hard to hold on to today, thou the Government of these countries are not encouraging them to do so thou. Some of their customs are controversial and unique in nature but is a very human one.
There are over a Million of them. Yes, you read that correctly, the most recent records says that there are 841,622 of them in Kenya and 430,000 in Tanzania. When their numbers were much smaller they are thought to have travelled down from the Nile Valley.
Some of the Maasai’s we met also spoke very Good English, better than some of the subordinates I knew at work too. I was quite amazed to hear them talk so distinctly with great pronunciation and diction. And most of these they have not learned in schools but from the tourist who visit them and speak to.
What’s the native language they talk then? Their language is called ‘ Maa’.
It is spoken but not generally written. The oral language is so strong that the need for a written one did not surface at all. The most prized possession that they have is the cows. They treasure them the utmost and are used to barter them with other tribes for all deals. Even marriages are mostly negotiated with cows, with the girls family getting cows from the prospective groom for matrimony. They practice polygamy and men can marry as many times thou the woman of the tribe can only marry once. Each wife is entitled to one house, thou the men can have as many houses. The first wife is selected by the parents, however, the second wife is selected by the first one and so on.
Each of these women bears 10 to 12 kids in their lifetime too. They looked so strong, and I guess it’s mostly to do with their diets. They eat meat mostly which they hunt for, as there is far less possibility of having any vegetables or fruits. They also drink raw milk with cows blood in it. This blood is carefully drawn from a vein of the cow without having to kill it and then the vein is sealed with cow dung to heal it back. This gives them a lot of energy they say. They rarely eat cows meat and is only cooked for some rituals.
They do hunt lions, and not just for fun but for meat. Going on a solo hunt for a male lion (they don’t hunt females) is seen by the tribe as a display of great courage and strength. But since now the lion’s population is also dwindling they have now formed a rule that it will be done only once in a while in groups.
They are Nomads, so they only live in one place for only around 5 years and then move to another location. Their houses are carefully built by the woman of the tribe with cow dung used to plaster the walls and floors.
The most I enjoyed visiting these tribes was the Kids there. Though we had absolutely no conversations (as they spoke no English), we had a great time sitting with them and helping them draw and colour with the books we got for them from India. Most of their noses were running and looked unkempt, but they were loving and looked happy.
We ended our day by going over the artefacts they had for sale which they make and picked some interesting ones to take back home.
These people have lived here in this way for centuries and seeing them firsthand will make the rest of the world seem a million miles away.
The Maasai are just one of the amazing things to experience in Kenya other the vast wildlife that you see here. So if you travel to Kenya, make sure you stop by to visit them and take back some interesting memories along…