Visiting the Masai

Trip Start Oct 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 19, 2011

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Returning to Arusha was a quick overnight to shower the dirt and grime of the parks off before heading south towards our next big stop - Zanzibar.  We did not plan to leave until mid-day, so we toured a local Masai Heritage Museum and visited a local village.  We were escorted through the museum by a Masai warrior who showed us a bit of daily life and common cultural phenomenon of the Masai.  The Masai are the local, nomadic tribesmen who live throughout East Africa.  They live in mud huts and steer their herds toward the greener pastures. 

Our host shared a bit more about expectations for a warrior.  The cultural right to become a man comes sometime between age 14 and 22.  At this ceremony, the warrior is circumcised.  The procedure is done in the village and without modern medical conveniences - no painkillers, antiseptics or antibiotics.  The warrior must undergo the circumcision without making the slightest indication that he is in pain.  He can not blink; he can not grimace; his eyes can not water or falter in any way.  Failure brings shame upon him and his family / clan.  Failure means that the "man" may never marry.  Because the Masai are polygamous, his status in society is lost forever.  The warrior told us that each circumcision results in infection.  Home remedies are often effective in healing the infection...but the same strict standards are enforced during healing.  No change in daily life may be observed.  If the infection "is very bad" they now send for a doctor.


Luckily for females, their circumcision has been outlawed by international treaty for some time. 

The trip to the local village was pretty much shit.  We had previously seem some villages in the parks who were giving a "tour" to other trucks and they seemed great.  Hundreds of people came out to meet the visitors & danced.  Our guy brought us to a tiny village (it was within walking distance of our very near Arusha) with a handful of huts and people.

Next time - more time with the Masai.
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