One of the real delights of this walk has been sleeping in the villages (it’s rare that I will actually be sleeping in the huts – there simply isn’t room as the whole family tends to sleep in one big bed and there isn’t room for guests! – so we’re mainly camping in the manyattas). Staying in the villages offers a real opportunity to get to talk with people and learn, a very little, about village life.
The following are all images taken over the past few days as we’ve stayed in and passed through villages.
Where Lions Once Roared
David Kipees is one of the administrators of the Ol Derkesi Conservancy. His job is to explain to villagers why the conservancy is actually good for them. In our long conversation one of his comments that I remember the most is when I asked whether lions still lived in the hills surrounding his village. His answer “When I was young every night you could hear lions roaring from every direction. Today, these Maasai children are growing up without knowing what a roaring lion sounds like”. To me this was shocking. A generation of Maasai children growing up without knowing the roar of an animal that is so culturally important to them. Today David says about 90% of the community support the conservancy so there is a slim hope that the following generation will again grow up hearing the nightly roar of lions.
The Traditional Healer
This lady is a traditional healer. Her role in a Maasai community was once of huge importance but today, with the arrival of clinics and ‘western’ medicine her role in the community is slightly reduced. Even so, many Maasai do continue to seek her console. She treats her patients with natural remedies from the local plants and she can remove curses from people. She does say that she can’t cure all illnesses though. Very serious cases she refers to a hospital. She says that traditional Maasai culture is ‘dead’, but that education is a good thing except that schools teach girls not to be circumcised and she believes that this circumcision is a very important thing. She thinks someone will replace her in the future and she is looking to train up someone else to continue her craft.
The Cursed Child
This child had been brought to the local traditional healer. He had been sick for a long time and no clinic had been able to cure him. The healer, together with a loiban (seer/vision seeker: see an earlier blog post) had discovered that the child had been cursed (a common occurrence) and between them had worked out how to rid the child of the curse. Today he is a healthy young boy.
Watching the Livestock
Early morning and evenings are a time of much activity in the villages. Goats, sheep and cows all return from their grazing grounds and all need milking before being safely enclosed in a boma (wooden pen) for the night – hopefully out of reach of leopards.
The Times are Changing
A Maasai man in traditional red shuka (robe) holds the hand of his son in a football shirt. Like it or not, Maasai culture is changing fast and life for this next generation is going to be a world away from where it is right now.