We split up into groups and visited families near the UAACC on Thursday morning, and in the afternoon we went through a traditional lunch preperation.
Friday morning we left with Chaka to visit the Maasai for two nights. The boma we went to was new since last year, but it was a lot of the same people. Someone in the old boma died so Ngongoi, our contact from last year, left to start his own. Chaka and Ngongoi gave us a traditional herb tour, then we joined the women of the boma for a root chai. In the evening we ran into a bunch of Maasai children coming back from school. Here’s a shot with Meru in the background.
In the evening we had some extra time so we threw together a campfire to swap stories with the Maasai. That ended up being a pretty amazing exchange; it turned into one giant discussion. After the dialog got rolling the questions got pretty heavy. They asked us about AIDS and HIV, why people from America are so many different colors, and a bit about the slave trade. We talked about religion for a while. They talked to us about missionaries that come and tell them they are going to ‘a fire’, asked us what we thought and what kinds of religions we adhered to. We asked them about how the schooling works and which kids get chosen to go. It turns out the eldest children are put on the more traditional path, for example, the boys go to look after the herds. Younger children or ‘extra children’ go to school, almost in the hope that after their schooling they will go find a job or some such in the city. We also asked them about the polygamy and wife-sharing amoung the Maasai. Older warriors frequently have more than one wife, but if they do have multiple wives they are expected to ’share them’ with other warriors. When there are children, it’s often understood that one warrior is the biological father. However the child is still considered the son or daughter of the warrior married to the mother. Circumcision and abuse also came up, among other things. I’ll try and dig more of that out later.
Saturday was our big activity with the Maasai. We were helping women from some nearby bomas work on a roadside cultural boma where they could sell their art. The boma consists of an exterior acacia wall, interior huts for the bomas inhabitants, and interior acacia walls for livestock. We were to help construct the hut they could sell out of. The process starts with vertical sticks, one end shallowly burried into the sand. Those are woven together to add strenth, then a roof frame is put on top which, again, is woven together and then woven to the structure itself. Finally a plaster of cow dung, a clay-like dirt, and water is put on the walls and grasses are fixed to the roof. I helped to gather dung and the clay, and helped in the plastering process
Here are a few shots from saturday afternoon:
Sunday I woke up for sunrise and caught an amazing view of Kilimanjaro.
After breakfast we went to the boma for a beading workshop which everyone enjoyed and finished with a market for the women of surrounding bomas; a lot of people got something or other.