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The Maasai Community Living in the Past

We made just one quick stop to visit a local Maasai village during our African safari. Just one quick stop to explore a village of 10 or 12 mud huts that dot the scenery throughout our Kenyan game drives in a pop-top 4 wheel drive vehicle.

My son Alex, a recent college graduate, and I had observed the tall, thin Maasai tribesmen dressed in their distinctive bright red and blue cloth wraps as they ambled along the roadsides and fields, tending goats or walking to a local village or market. So different than our modern life.

We made just one quick stop to visit the local Maasai village. Just one quick stop.

The sons of the chief, Depe and Wilson, served as cordial hosts for the village visit. The women and girls welcomed us with a chanting song, invited me join in, and soon I was one with my new sisters. Depe and Wilson showed Alex how to make fire with two special sticks, spinning one stick on the other one, fueled by elephant dung. Alex related tales of scouting trips and starting fires-with matches. Alex tried the age-old technique, complete with elephant, and made fire.

Our young hosts, both in their early 20’s, invited us for a tour of their mud hut. A bit smaller than our breakfast nook at home, the round structure boasted a diminutive master bedroom, and a children’s bedroom, with animal skins gracing the bare floors serving as mattresses. So different than my new pillow top king size massage bed. The central area, a kind of living room, offered seating on the floor. There was no elbow room with the five of us crowded in the confined space.

Each village has one communal outhouse, no electricity, no water. So different than our double-oven-gas-grill-hot-tub life.

Depe proudly pointed out that some tribal children go to the tiny local school, while others learn at a tender age to tend the goats and the cattle. All the children learn to walk several miles, along with the women, to retrieve buckets of water and to carry firewood and supplies from the distant market.

Alex nodded, and made some remarks about really appreciating everything I did for him. What a different way of life the Maasai live.

The official tour ended, but, with that connection that transcends similarities, the three young men talked on and on. Depe and Wilson invited us to accompany them to the local market. They encouraged us to barter for vegetables, jewelry, the red cloth the Maasai traditionally wear to scare wild animals, or perhaps some goats.

Depe, Wilson, and Alex talked more about their plans and dreams. Ambitious Depe wants to finish high school and college, and then return to be the chief of his own village. His new wife lives in the next village with her parents until Depe can provide for her. Wilson, not likely chief material, wants to finish high school. Alex wants to start his new engineering career, save money, and purchase real estate before he pursues a family.

Just one quick stop.

The three young men so different, so very different, learn that they are not really so different.