Another morning arrived at Haven Nature tent camp and we got up, not as early as previous day but early enough.
Jake took his Kindle reader and dragged his tired and newly waken body up to the restaurant area to have a morning coffee and wake up.
I packed my stuff and headed to the showers to prepare for the day to come.
The program was visiting a Maasai village in Mto wa Mbu and I was hoping to be able to snap a picture of me jumping with them so at least I had done something “native” while visiting the tribe.
After the village we would bunker up on some supplies as food and water and head off towards Lake natron which would be our last point on our safari program.
The drive would prove to be long and hot.
We arrived to the village around 11ish on the day and the sun was just unmerciful this day as it litterally felt like it was eating up the sunscreen that we had applied on our necks and faces. The Maasai village was built up with the houses being put in a circle with additional shrubbery as protection against the wild animals and also to protect the cattle which was placed in the middle of the village.
We were welcomed by the tribe in a usual manner.
By a dance.
Now if this is real or just put up as a show for tourists I don’t know. But I assume it is the later with some influences of the past. It was nice to watch though and for all of those of you who wasnt there with us, I have some captured here.
After the welcome dance we were invited into the village by the chief.
He was a man in his 40´s and was the temporary village chief as his father was currently away with the cattle.
His ear lobes were stretched so when he saw my stretched ear lobes he became very interested in why I had it and explained their customs regarding the ears.
This is how we later managed to distinguish the Maasai who had moved into the cities and abandoned their semi-nomadic lifestyle, by the stretched ear lobes.
When we came into the closure of the village it all began. The jumping.
DAMN they jump high and I guess years of training really pays off as some of them jumps ridiculously high.
I was given the battle club in my head and Jake was given a spear and pushed in with the rest to jump. Thought that I did good as I usually jump a bit on metal concerts and other parties but looking at the photos that was taken by the Maasai chief.
I am utterly wrong.
After some 10 minutes of jumping in the scorching sun in the Maasai village we had the regular introduction of how Maasai make up fire which was quite simple and is a method that you read about in school. The old “pin-in-a-piece-of-wood” that by friction creates heat and finally sparks some glow that is transferred with the blade of their knife, all Maasai carries big knifes, onto some dry grass where the glow further evolve into fire after some gentle blowing.
We got invited into one of the huts where the chief explained how the house is built by mud and how the repairs are carried out. Also about the male rituals like circumcision which is carried out between 14-17 years of age and how each boy is welcomed as a man by receiving his own cows by people from his own tribe.
Now it is here the story starts becoming a bit sketchy as we caught the chief contradict himself a few times and a bit later we also realized that Maasai people are not poor at all.
This is just what people believe as they stick to their customs more or less but in reality they move with the modern world.
They have mobile phones, they have jewelry, some have cars even and a cow is an expensive commodity.
The more cows you have, the wealthier you are, and a cow can cost as much as up to 800.000 schillings. That is a lot of Pink Elephants and equals about 380 Euro.
Now think that a man has about 10-15 cows and some even have a couple of sheep.
Do the math.
That is maybe not so much money in the western world but in Tanzania that is a lot of money. Still they beg tourists to donate money to their village for this and that.
They try to sell you their hand-made jewelry for amazingly high prizes, I confess that I bought some jewelry after some though haggling and I donated a little bit of money to their school.
The chief told us that it was low season right now so they only have maybe two cars a month coming for a visit and that it is hard times because of this.
As we left the hut Jake went back to the car while I continued to talk to the chief about this and that regarding the tribe and Maasai customs as I was watching the jewelry that was laid out.
Other members joined up with us and as the elder man was with us I asked them what they believed in, what was their belief. The answer took away all the remaining magic I had regarding the visit. “- We are Christian catholics”
I had hoped that they would answer that they were worshipping the sun or anything else more hedonistic but unfortunately they had embraced the word of God and apparently were no longer any savages in the eyes of the modern world.
After I had selected some jewelry and paid for it I was shown their school.
I had my suspicions here as I was led into something that looked like a prison.
the school was built up by sticks, well actually more thick wood logs but it was an enclosure with a door.
The roof was the same structure, just wooden sticks that allowed the sun to strike down on anyone sitting in there. All the kids had been rounded up and were sitting and watching me with big eyes.
Interesting enough they had not been there before we got close to the school and if it had been a school that would have easily been heard as the kids were loudly shouting out the alphabet as I walked into the cage.
The teacher explained and complained about how sad it was in the wooden cage, that they didn’t have any real material to build roof and that this was where they were schooling children up to 8-9 years of age until they were allowed to enter the public schools. There was something that didn’t fit into the picture. As I looked around the cage I saw several kids not older than two or three years of age. Were they being schooled as well?
I questioned the teacher why not all letters were written on the board as they missed two of them.
He had no answer.
The teacher, if he really was the teacher, was not older than maybe mid 20´s.
As I started to ask more difficult questions he rapidly changed the subject and asked if i cared to donate to the school and for material. I had just paid the chief some nice money for the jewelry and here they wanted even more money? I looked at the chief but he was watching another direction as if he didn’t want to meet my eyes.
I pulled up 10 USD and donated it to them which I guess was also to be let out of this wooden cage made up by sticks. I actually even had to bend my back a little bit not to hit my head into the “roof” of the cage. I am 184 cm tall and the height of the roof was maybe 175 cm high.
As I got out I started asking the chief about the tribal cuttings some of the younger men had in their faces and i was told it was to mark which tribe they were from.
I showed them my scarification on my back impressing them even more having it sparking questions from them what it was meaning, what it stood for and why I had done it.
In the end it was recognized that I could be a Mzungu white Maasai, I just need to do some more training on my jumping skills.