Honey Badger's Owners are honoured to take part in a genuine Maasai cultural ceremony
Just as a bit of background, Joseph and I have had the honour of working with a number of Maasai. Daudi, Peter and Moses started working for us as guards for SAIDIA volunteer accommodation in Mwanza. They then moved with us to Honey Badger and through them recruited over 20 different people in total for the lodge and the school (not all at the same time, and some come and some go). All the Maasai that have worked with us have come from the same village. This year we finally found the time (better late than never) to go out and visit their home.
What a weekend, what an experience and what an honour! We want to begin by thanking our wonderful Maasai hosts for sharing their cultural with us. The ceremonies we visited were fantastic.
We began our weekend trip after putting the children to bed for their afternoon sleep and had no idea what lay in front of us! We left Moshi at 1pm on Saturday with both Daudi senior and Daudi junior, and not to forget to bags of Maize on our roof. We arrived at the ceremony that Peter was attending at 4pm, just before the end. Peter was waiting for us, all painted up, with a large hunk of meat. What we didn’t know was the place he was taking us was where the Maasai whose ceremony it was had been sitting all day, next to a meat stripped cow.
He had been waiting there all day, eating, drinking and socialising with all the other men from the surrounding area. We were invited to sit with him and eat some roasted meat. Some of the best beef we have ever tasted. Just as we finished the songs from the women came into ear shot, as they moved over from the boma (where they had been waiting all day, dancing, singing and eating meat!). The wife of the master of the ceremony was being escorted by nearly one hundred women, all jumping and singing. She joined her husband and along with her mother, sat on the inflated stomach of the dead cow.
They were blessed by a number of elders. The mood was joyful and everyone around was involved. After the blessing the couple were given the head of the cow and together were escorted back to the boma. At a normal walking pace this would take about 10 mins, it took them around on hour, as they jumped and they sang and they moved as a collective community. What an amazing site.
We left this ceremony before dark as there is no light and the roads are very small and bumpy. And we wanted to get an early night in preparation for the next big day.
As the sun was rising we met Daudi Junior (randomly after driving along a road and him driving along another road perpendicular to us, but we met!) We were directed to his village where we were warmly welcomed by Daudi senior, the local government official and his friends and family. We were welcomed into the boma and made to feel part of everything. Everyone was full of smiles and excitement. There was a great buzz around and whilst things were moving slowly there was still a certain haste to get things ready. After a short while I got taken off by the ladies into a hut to be dressed and Joey was also dressed. This was a source of endless entertainment for all the women who kept coming in to smile and laugh.
The community expressed such genuine joy to welcome us to share their special cultural day with them. The day moved on slowly, but again everyone was busy doing something. Getting themselves ready! At some point early morning Joey and I were ushered into the cattle pen in the centre of the Boma. Other elders and our hosting Maasai (Daudi junior and senior) came in as well. We all squatted down in a circle and were blessed by the Maasai using a specially made beaded rungu. This rungu (carved wooden stick) was handed to Joey as a gift. The symbolism of this is powerful and the community were showing Joey enormous respect to present this to him. We felt honoured. After this point we left the boma to go and visit the man of the ceremony. He was situated a few hundred metres away and was watching over the cow they had just slaughtered and were currently filleting. The male Maasai were all gathered around enjoying the much favoured blood drink. Joey did partake in this (as the drinking of blood is something also practised in his tribe!), I refrained!
We were warmly welcomed by the Maasai who was about to become and elder. He explained how delighted he was that finally after more than 5 years of being connected with his village, we had finally met. He welcomed us to enjoy all parts of his celebration and explained to us the symbolism of it all. We left him sitting under his tree. In total the community slaughtered 1 cow and about 6 goats.
Back in the boma by mid-morning the numbers of women were increasing. Each time more groups arrived they came in singing with a gift of a sheep. A total of 15 sheep were received by the boma that day. All this was done whilst singing and jumping. They arranged themselves under a tree in a circle and this is where they spent the most of the day. By mid afternoon the young morans and all other males arranged themselves also in their own circle and began there dancing and jumping. Both groups were getting ready to move to the site of the soon to be Elder and to collect him and accompany him back home (as explained at the top!).
Whilst we had to leave a little earlier than we hoped (to get back to the children and the lodge) we cannot overstate how much we enjoyed this trip. It was eye opening. The Maasai are so proud of their culture and so proud that they are still so connected and close to their culture, their traditions and their heritage. There are very few communities in the world who can state this. We are so honoured that we were invited to join our friends on this special day and very much look forward to going back for a future visit.
Speaking of visits, the community has warmly invited us to bring our guests to their community whenever the opportunity arises. They want to share their lives and experiences with others. We are currently working with Daudi’s community leaders to set up our Maasai cultural tourism package. The community have expressed a wish for our support of their local kindergarten, which is currently closed as it has no teachers or resources. Our tourism programme would directly support this and other areas of need within the community. Contact us for further information.
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