I was not prepared to witness a passing Coca Cola van being ambushed by a Masai warrior! After all, my idea of a refreshing drink for Masai was milk mixed with cow’s blood stored in dried bottle gourd.
Before we saw the lure of the high-fructose drink, we had seen the men displaying their dancing skills by performing a jumping dance called Adumu. The height of a warrior’s jump was directly proportional to his virility. They stood in a line, taking turns to dance, ensuring that their heels did not touch the ground.
The previous day, we had expressed a desire to see Masai people, to our driver, Richard. He had made a few phone calls and had informed us that we could visit their village en-route from Rift Valley to Masai Mara Reserve.
On our arrival, at the Masai boma or village, we found that women wore heavily beaded jewellery and men dressed in red, as warriors. Their attire was more ceremonial than an average daily wear. The village chief said that beads used for jewellery was made up of stones mined from the mountains. May be, he meant, bought from a supermarket in the nearest town.
We were informed that our visiting fees, paid for the education of children. I believe, the same children who were responsible for grazing cattle.
Masai women lined-up and sang a welcome song. Their heads bobbed in rhythm as their warbling voices resonated with the grassy landscape. Acrid odour of dried cattle dung complemented the simplicity of their song, which was being sung unaided by any musical instrument.
“Hello, stupid tourist
you are such a fool...”
These might not have been the lyrics,but that’s what I heard.
The temporary village of 10-12 houses was surrounded by thicket of thorns to keep predators out. At night, cattle were kept in a central communal courtyard. At that open space, the warriors taught us, how to make fire using a stick and some tinder.
As our tour ended, we were escorted to the outer fringe of the hamlet, to the village market. Why would a settlement of a semi-nomadic community need a village market? Of course, for tourists! The place was a permanent theatre.
Even though the meeting with Masai was a set-up. We witnessed, at least, a shadow of their traditional life. Commercialisation transcends all cultures and nationalities, we tourists are responsible for it. I still believe that the artists participating in the act were true Masai and not phony like their boma market.