Kenya Update #6: Students Experience the Masai (A)

[Editor’s Note:  Our group has now left the Masai  and at last has Internet access.  Thus we are able to provide student-written accounts and actual photos.  Any errors in fact or perspective are attributable to the editor.]

Encounter with the Masai — Hannah C. writes:



In spending time with Logela, we learned that he was a senior member of the Maasai tribe, that his name means “the chosen one” in Maasai, that he has killed many a lion, that he is, essentially, the most BA person we’re bound to meet.  Ever.  Yet this ripped, spear-toting, lion-slaying warrior was absolutely kind, friendly, hospitable, and insanely awesome to be around.  Living with him and his family in his home was a cultural eye-opener for us: having expected to revel in our differences, we instead reveled in our similarities. Our time with the Maasai, learning of their traditions and customs, is something we will treasure for years to come. 

Walking SafariEarly one evening at Logela’s boma, we set out to witness the sunset, a sight that proved to be utterly incredible to behold. We’d already trekked up the hill to see the sunrise; however, the journey was vastly different in the fading light than in the morning darkness. We followed Logela, tromping loudly, I’m sure, in comparison to his carefully-placed and experienced footsteps.

We traveled through fields and clearings, eventually arriving at a large collection of boulders, which acted somewhat as a throne amidst the flat savannah. We climbed to the top, each of us wordlessly dispersing to find a nook to nestle into, whether perched on the rock ledge or beneath an acacia.  And there we sat in silence and solitude, watching the sun sink below the horizon, staining the clouds in brilliant yellows and reds in its wake.  After dark, we followed Logela back through the bush, beginning our search for bush babies. We walked in silence and thick darkness, stopping every so often to scan the trees, holding our breath, anticipating the discovery of bush babies. We were unsuccessful in this endeavor.  However, the experience of being silently led by a Maasai warrior through the African grasslands in utter darkness was surreal, striking, and powerful.

Slaughter — Nathan writes:

Goat Gift Group

Not a pet, rather, Dinner

We eagerly followed to where the two were laid on their backs. The longer the wait, the more the goat shrieked and struggled. Knives were brought out, along with metal buckets. The sheep went first. One of the young Masai carried him by the legs to a cleared-out spot. His head and neck held over the bucket while our guide and friend Logela plunged a knife through the neck. After draining the blood into the bucket, he sawed through the rest of the neck. As he went through the esophagus, it released a huff of air as though the sheep’s last breath was cut short. The head was left dangling only by its spinal cord as the unopened carcass was laid on a pile of branches next to his now-convulsing and panicking partner in death.

Prepared Goat

Now was the goat’s turn. He was carried to the bucket, vigorously restrained, bleating louder than ever.  Logela plunged the dagger into his throat, but something went wrong. He broke the skin opposite the knife, entirely piercing the neck, but with no thick sanguine rainbow, no dying silence.  Our dinner was still kicking and screaming. Logela put the goat out of its misery as soon as he could, apologizing sincerely to the struggling creature.  In a moment, he hit the artery, followed by the relieving arc as the kicking stopped. The bleating weakly continued, but as Logela cut through the esophagus, there was one last airy, wheezing bleat, and he was laid next to his deceased cohort.  It was time for the gored duo to be prepared for the feast. Dogs and flies hovered, eager for their share.

Eating Goat

[This passage was heavily edited for the gastric security of readers. — Editor]

We watched the butchering in fascination.  As the internal organs came out, they were identified one by one.  Two men pulled the kidneys from the goat, graying blue orbs connected by thick, purple cords. They cut the cords and peeled back a thin film, leaving a meaty, purple-red ball. They cut into the kidneys, eating a portion and passing the rest to us.  We nervously passed them around.  My teeth sank through the warm, soft, purple ball like butter.  The texture was tender and fiber-less, however the taste was intensely meaty & salty, leaving something to be desired.  Pointed sticks were poked into the meat to frame the slabs of muscle and prop out the broken ribs.  A fire was then built, and these ‘meat-kites’ were ready to be grilled. 

Game Drive — Hannah M. writes:

Kids at RanchWe got up early and went on a “game drive” in the dawn light because the animals are more active at that time of day. At the beginning we saw lots of zebras.  Continuing the game drive the cars stopped and we watched how a warthog moves and walks. Warthogs are brown and fuzzy little pigs and they run very fast. When they run, they put their tails up and they can run long distances. Their nickname is the Kenya Express!  Also, we saw elephants playing in the water and at one point they walked in front of the Land Rover as we were sitting on the roof.  I think the elephants were happy because they were free, able to play, and had plenty of water, even though it was the dry season. Later in the afternoon we saw elephants scratching themselves on the trees. 

Game DriveThroughout the game drive we saw Mount Kilimanjaro looming over us. Later on, we stopped at a river and observed hippos. We sat for half an hour and watched them roll over and splash themselves. Occasionally they yawned, exposing their huge teeth. The hippos moved very slow through the water. While we were watching the hippos, we also saw a troop of baboons playing on the other side of the river. Suddenly it started to rain. We stayed outside, enjoying the refreshing rain.  We also saw Maasi giraffes, a darker species than the other giraffes we had seen. Throughout the game drive we saw lots of large birds flying about. Masai Sunset

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