Thursday, March 25, 2010

Masai People of the Serengeti/Ngorogoro

I am posting tonight from New York after my 15 hour plane flight from Hong Kong. Tomorrow morning I leave for Jamaica and will not know how much connectivity I will have from Amizade site.

For the past several days I have shown pictures from my Tanzania safari through the Serengeti. There is still so much I want to share of this aspect of the adventure, especially photos of Olduvai Gorge where Louis and Mary Leakey found the 1.75 million year old Australopithicus. Also I must still show photos of the 8th Wonder of the World, The Ngorogoro Crater, 18 miles from rim to rim, teeming with amazing animals, including rhinos, living safely in a deep natural pocket, lost in time.

Then again what would a trip through the Serengeti be without pictures of its living human residents, the Masai. Tribal life in Tanzania was discouraged and basically eliminated with independence in 1962, but traditional values and rural life, ujamaa, was embraced as a key teaching by Julius Nyerere, the country's founder.

The Masai have retained their tribal identity and many live in mud huts in small circular enclosed villages. Those folks, living within the park, survive entirely on raising cattle or goats, which are allowed to roam freely in certain sections. Agriculture is not permitted. The middle photo is of a cattle herder who spoke some Swaheli and asked for food rather than money. These people barter a lot among one another. By the way every marriage involves a dowry of cows.

The bottom picture of the two women was taken in a town outside of the park. Many Masai have left the confines of rural village living and have sought their fortune in nearby communities. These ladies sold me two hand-woven beaded bracelets and were amused by my horrible accent and wild gesticulations.

I snapped the top picture and included it for you to see the earings and hats worn by Masai women. Along the road the men and women pride themselves in the most colorful dress that I had seen on my travels. The women wear long silver necklaces and chokers, plus huge earings.

My mind takes me back tonight to this world that is already beginning to feel distant. I ,of course, know nothing of these strange people. Being there reminded me of scenes in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness or the village in Lord Jim. Such remote places are disappearing. Herds of camera-toting tourists descend on these people every day and as cultures colllide, well, you know the rest.


  1. Incredible journey! Beautiful women.
    I think the intrusion started with "Dr. Livingston, I presume..." and then with the line I always thought wonderful but am now reconsidering "I had a farm in Africa". I'm afraid that the concept of the World becoming flat (I'm listening to the book "The World Is Flat" about globalization of economies which is quite good) is inevitable.
    Did you ever see The Gods Must Be Crazy? Such a funny movie.
    Hope you are able to catch your breath before the next part of your adventure. Best to you, Tash

  2. Masai = mythical for me.

    Hope you get over the jet-lag. I still haven't! ;-)

  3. I love seeing the people and how they live. I imagined less of a western townlike setting. Your discussion of urban and rural is really interesting. I love the description of why they were laughing at you. Laughter certainly brings people together, whether they can talk a common spoken language or not.

  4. Marvelous post as always, Lee! Sorry to have seemed to disappeared, but my computer managed to catch a virus and my "fixer" was out of town until today, so I have some serious catching up to do!! And as usual, I too, love the description of why the people were laughing at you! Laughter is the greatest gift we can have/share/enjoy. Thanks as always for the wonderful pictures you create with, not only your camera, but your words!