In the afternoon of April 2nd, 2016, Tom brought me to the Masai village described in the itinerary as “an optional opportunity to visit a village of the Masai people to witness the singing and dancing that are part of their daily lives and sacred rituals. A glimpse into their homes and social structure is a poignant experience.” I had informed Tom that for me, the visit to the village was not optional. The first photo I took early that morning as we headed out of the lodge to begin our day of exploring the Mara, was a herd of Masai cattle.
Here is what I learned, in no particular order, about the Masai.
1. Hello is “Sopa”.
2. Women build the houses.
3. The houses are good for ten years, then the village moves.
4. The houses are arranged in a circle with a large area in the middle. At night, the domesticated animals are brought inside the circle. There is a circle of branches surrounding the circle of houses. All of this is to protect against wild animals.
5. The Masai wear bright red because it makes the lions run away.
6. The Masai cook inside their houses except for special feasts like weddings, when an entire bull is cooked over a big fire in the central area.
7. Women milk the cows.
8. The Masai keep dogs as a form of protection from wild animals.
9. The roofs of the houses are made from cow dung and grass.
10. Masai men are polygamous but since they started sending their children to school, most men cannot afford more than one or two wives.
11. The Masai can make fire by twirling a hardwood stick in a piece of red cedar. They twirl it by rubbing it between their hands. They do it in pairs. Once they get a bit of glowing ember, they put it in dry grass and blow on it.
12. The Masai keep the calves inside the house at night so that they can milk the cows first. Milk is a staple of the Masai diet.
13. The Masai men “follow the grass” with their herds.