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  • Day5

    Maasai Village

    September 20, 2019 in Kenya ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Today we are brought to the Maasai Village where we are provided with the opportunity to view up close the culture and lifestyle of the Maasai people.

    One of the members of the village, a medicine man, meets us at our camp to walk us there. On the way he tells us about the natural herbs they use for medicine and that we will have to make a donation to the village in order to enter. Don't worry he says, you can pay whatever you want but normally people pay 500 Kenyan Shilling per person (about 5 USD) which we decide to pay each. Another couple in our group tried to pay less, but were barred from entering until they paid 500 each. Guess it wasn't as optional as the medicine man let on.

    Our visit starts with a traditional dance where the Maasai men have a jumping competition. The men in our group are strongly encouraged to join in the competition as they are forced into the jumping circle and the traditional dress, a colourful cloth, is thrusted upon them. Chris manages to jump pretty high but unfortunately, misses out on being crowned the winner. A little aggrieved, Chris asks who the winner is. 'Him over there,' our guide says as he points into the throng of the Maasai men. It's left unclear who this supposed winner might be. However, we're left with the strong feeling that this 'competition' is rather a choreographed routine that is played out several times a day.

    We then get a tour around the village and are assigned a host who will show us their home. Since there is no electricity, we use the flashlight on our phone to guide us through the dark, narrow hallway that leads us to the cooking area where we find his wife (who is sporting a lovely Pikachu shirt) cooking. We sit in total darkness, and are told to take a picture of the interior. Chris reluctantly turns the flash on his camera and takes a snap. The picture, of a previously unseen boy, sitting miserably in the corner, is one of the most depressing photos we have ever taken.

    Eager to get outside, we follow our host to his 'backyard' where several of his other buddies join us. They proceed to surround us in a circle and show us some 'traditional' jewelry that we can buy to support their family. We tell them that we're not interested, and the circle gets tighter around us, blocking off the exits. A copper bracelet is clamped around Chris' wrist, and we are forced to negotiate for it, eventually buying it for an embarrasingly large sum, but at least we've bought our freedom from the backyard, and we are allowed to rejoin the tour group.

    A final stop on the tour is the school, the construction of which is funded by our entrance fees. We wonder, therefore, why the side says "FUNDED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF KENYA". We decide not to ask.

    Herded into the headmaster's office, we are invited to sit and sign the guestbook. Once we've signed it, we are invited to donate money to support the school. "But we've already paid our entrance fee to support the school!", we protest. "Ah," comes the reply, "but this donation is for the school lunches!". We stand our ground and refuse to pay any more.

    We leave with a tacky copper bracelet, a hole in our wallets, and no more of an understanding of Maasai culture.
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