Thursday, May 13, 2010

A visit to the Masi Community next to the Mara

Our visit to the Masi Community just outside of the Maasi Mara Game Park had a lasting impact on both of us. These native people have cohabited with the wild life in the Mara for so long that a mutual respect has developed between beast and man. They do not hunt the wild life and the wild life for the most part (except during severe droughts like the one that they just experienced a year ago) do not bother them. However as a precaution, the Masi still bring all of their livestock (and kids) inside a circular enclosure at night. This is surrounded by their homes and a fence made of a dense thicket. This to ward off lion and hyena attacks. As a result the interior of their community is essential covered in dung and dirt. Most of them are barefooted all of the time and the children play on this surface.

In another time the custom was that a young man had to kill a male lion as his rite of passage. The current chief of the tribe had killed two lions in his youth. He had made a headdress out of its mien. It is also their custom to live much as the animals do in that the dominant males have more wives. The men herd and protect their livestock by day. We were told and we observed that young boys start herding goats as early as 3 or 4 with their brothers and fathers.

The women make the homes out of a woven twig frame coated with a mixture of cow dung and mud. We did not observe them washing their hands before preparing meals over an open fire pit. The young girls for the most part tended to the children.

It is still their practice to drink a blend of cows blood and milk a couple times a week especially for mothers who are still nursing. They poke the jugular artery of the cow with an arrow and drain out some blood and then seal the wound with mud. The blood is then mixed in a gourd vessel with fresh milk. As a result of this practice all of their cows have a kind of decorative wound around their necks that resembles a necklace.

As we ended our visit they had some hand-made crafts on display. They were authentic pieces that members of the tribe had created out of local materials and imported beads. This beautiful young lady had made the bracelet that Karen chose to buy.
The young men have jumping contests as they perform and chant. The custom is that: he who jumps highest gets the prettiest bride. No I did not get offered a new bride with this jump! I can't ell are they laugh at me??

The women involved the Missionary Sisters in their dance and chant. Notice the little girl out in front. She had already learned the dance and was giving all that she had.

This bashful little girl was sitting all alone in the shade of her home watching the visiting "Mzungus" (Swahili for white people).

Just as we left the park and entered the Masi community (there is no fence marking the boundary between park and community) we caught a glimpse of a small family of baboons.
This older guy stopped just long enough for me to snap his picture.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

What an experience! It is interesting how customs are sooo different around the world but people are still people and essentially the same :) Love the pictures!