A Masai Village : This is part 5 of my Masai Mara Kenya Travelogue
No trip of Masai Mara is complete without a visit to a Masai Village. It seemed that our Masai guide was also aware of this and the trip to a Masai Village was always in their cards. The other reason is that every trip by a tourist to a village helps these Masais with the money that the visitors willing spend on buying the Masai artifacts and their home-made infacts. So as we scooted and bumped along the forest lanes and open grass fields of the Savannahs, a quick few turns and we found ourselves stopping outside the perimieter of a Masai village. A couple of horns and out came a few Masai men, with their traditional attire and their leans upright body in that stealthy gait that they have. We spoke a little, one of them could speak decent English. His name is Kaai, and he said that they would be willing to show us around their village, but there was a monetary charge that they ask from Tourists. A big of negotiations and we agreed soon.I paid 60 USD for our family. What one should remember while trying to negotiate a price with the Masais is that all of the money collected by the different Masai villages goes to the support of their local schools. So, I suggest, be generous.
Here we were welcomed with a series of traditional Masai dances, by the animated males with whom we joyfully participated. The rustic, and ethnic tunes of their music, the aboriginal bush cry that they emit every now and then changed the ambience and carried us away. Kaai, one of the more literate and English speaking Masais explained their culture, tradition and society to us. Each Masai village was built within a semicircular boundary made of dried branches, shrubs and leaves rolled into ropes and strengthened with dung.
The Masai tribe of Kenya has deep rooted family and social traditions. Every family within the village had a separate entrance while the central pen was shared. The Masais believe in male Polygamy and female multiple marriages. Each one of them marries based on his wealth, hunting prowess and physical appearance. Their staple food is cattle meat. Fresh cattle blood collected in a hardened gourd flask is a welcome drink for guests. The cattle were bled from their neck and then the wound immediately sealed with herbs to keep them fit.
For the Masais, even till the seventies, lion hunting was an active sport for the males. It is said that even the African lion is afraid of a red clothed Masai warrior with his spear. The Masai uses the colour red, as a symbol of blood and life. Now, modernization has slowly trickled in and the Masai culture is also slowly melting towards a more civilized existence.
The female dance followed. Young mothers with shaven heads to reduce perspiration and older women with huge earrings which tripled their ear lobes permanently, lined up for a quick song and dance program. But sadly we did not find that enthusiasm in them as we found in the young males before. Once over, we were invited inside a Masai hut. It was dark and utterly smoky with one single window providing ventilation and the entrance door on the other side providing access. They asked us to rest a while and offered us food ( beans prepared in some dark red syrup which we avoided). Later they prepared a makeshift venue for peddling their handicrafts. The Masai women organised handmade goods on tables made up of dried leaves and cow dung. Strings, beads, amulets, statues, trinkets, masks and small decorative items were hawked to us and we bought a few. Ultimately after an hour of some wonderful time with the one of the oldest surviving tribes in the world, living at peace with the wildlife habitat around them, we took our leave, were happy and contended, amidst a lot of hugging and hand waving.