I didn't think very much about Masai when I started the journey to Ngorongoro. All I had in my mind was this extraordinary place called Ngorngoro which is a dead valcano of the ancient days. Inside that volcanic crater of about 20Km diameter - I was exited about to find these delightful collection of wild animals.
True to its auro of open air zoo without walls - it turned to be just that. So many animals, you name it then you will find it in there - Zebras, Wildebeast,fox, rhinos, elephants, Zeraffes,Hienas,Hipos and not to mention the great lions of Ngrongoro. An amazing collection of beauftiful animals in such a small place - wonderful indeed.
Constant and clear danger
But what surprised me even more was the fearless people of the Masai tribe who live there. When we entered the Nogorongoro area we did spot few sheperds minding their cattles and sheep. Didn't think much about untill I discovered that all those wild animals will also wander freely in all those areas where Masaies lived. Imagine a lion waking you up in your little flimsy hut made of just mud - a rude awakening indeed. For someone visiting from
a city their way of life living among constant and clear ever present danger is hard to fathom. I am not sure how the psyche actually works in these circumstances.
As we drove past a small Masai village at a distance down the valley- a collection of about 20 tiny mud huts, I began to notice a little boy and some grown up adults waving us to stop all the time. Some boys ran towards the jeep earnestly shouting at us to stop. Our guide told us not to bother as they were all looking to charge me some money for having clicked some photos ! Some easy earnings indeed. However there was some inocence and naughtyness about them too.
Red blankets & slender sticks
I asked why they all seem to wear 'blood red' blankets over them - like an anorak. Apparently lions are afraid of the red and I kind of see the logic to it. They why they carry a long stick instead of some other weapon. Well, long sticks make you look taller and that helps to chase away the lions.
To be admitted to manhood - you need to kill a lion
In Masai's world having horede of cash is not good enough ! In the old days You need to kill a lion and bring its tail as proof to be accepted into manhood. Well, wether its true or not I do not know but they all seem to be fearless and focussed on fleecing the tourist for taking photos !! Humans are the same even in Masai world, I guess.
Masai dance - who can jump higher is the plot
We visited a small village and the chief's son welcommed us. He spoke very good english and demaned 60 dollars for a welcome show. Well, for 60 dollars you would get a wonderful broadway show with all its glitzy grandure in Newyork but in out back in Serengeti it gets you a half hour cultural encounter. All the women gathered to sing and the men grouped together to perform the unique jumping dance. Higher you jump than the others the better your are, was the concept. I cant help noticing that they also groanned from deep throat in a rythemic pattern.
Slender and elegant women with long necks
All these elegant ladys joined in group and sang
a welcome song for us. Well we paid 65 dollars for the honour and it was good. They kind of yoodled a bit while the men folks jumped up and down. They all wore beautiful pearl costumes unique to themself - very colorful and glistening pearls strung up together in circles.
Masais are one of the very few remaining polygamous society in the world. The village we visited belonged to one chief who had 13 wifes !!!. They all lived in small huts with their own kids while the husband visited them when it pleased him. By the counts of the kids scampering all around you would say it should have pleased him pretty much to pay a visit to the ladies very frequently, indeed.
A simple way of life
Masais seem to live a very simple life - cattles for milk and diary. Plenty of wives and children. Friendly dogs for company. No cozy comforts or grandiose trappings of the mordern society.
Is it because they live so far away from the morden world or simply a choosen way of life. I wondered what they would do if they fell sick or mauled by
a lion - did they go to witch doctors or mordern hospitals. They seem to be happy with the way they live. Who am I to judge them.
God bless them.
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