While many East Africans speak some English or French, knowing a few words of Swahili will really help you out in the more rural areas and along the coast. Since Swahili is a second language to most East Africans, they'll understand a little broken Swahili, and they'll certainly appreciate your efforts Enter Gallery
The Maasai People
The Maasai live in the semi-arid Rift Valley region of Kenya and Tanzania. They own large herds of cattle, sheep and goats which they follow around seasonally in search of new grazing grounds and water sources. Traditionally the Maasai have always been a proud and independent tribe. They did not cultivate the land and depend on a cash economy as many of those around them did, rather they lived off the blood, milk and meat that their cattle provided them. Cattle plays a central role in the life of the Maasai. Cattle represents food and power; the more cattle a Maasai has, the richer he is and therefore the more power and influence he will have within his tribe.
These days the Maasai have a more mixed diet as they have been forced to settle into ever decreasing areas of land and adapt to a more sedentary lifestyle which in some cases includes growing or buying cultivated food. Traditionally the Maasai have always looked down upon those who tilled the land since this rendered it useless for grazing. While the Maasai lifestyle has undergone some changes in the past three decades in particular, their strong social traditions remain intact. Maasai men are first and foremost warriors. They protect their tribe, their cattle and their grazing lands. Often standing over 6ft tall the Maasai warrior with his beaded hair , red checked blanket (shuka) and balled club, looks both fierce and beautiful. Maasai boys go through a circumcision ceremony at the age of 14 and then traditionally spending up to 8 years looking after livestock far from their villages. They become warriors upon their return to the village to get married.
The Maasai women are responsible for all domestic tasks which include making their homes. Houses are made from mud, sticks, grass, cow dung and urine. The women also milk the cows, collect water (a heavy and arduous task), cook and look after the children. The Maasai women are as impressive as the men in their looks. Tall, slender and bedecked with large beaded necklaces and long braided hair, they are a favorite among tourists taking their holiday snapshots
. Maasai Struggle to Keep their Traditional Way of Life
While part of the attraction of visiting national parks in Kenya and Tanzania is viewing the wildlife as well as the indigenous people, it is the wildlife parks that present the biggest problem to the Maasai. The largest tracts of land that have been taken and protected for the wildlife has been taken from the Maasai's traditional grazing lands. The Maasai feel that their society has been given less thought and respect than that of wild animals. Here's a quote from the Maasai Association:
When a lion attacks a cow, the authorities from wildlife and conservationist organizations would bury their heads under the sand. When a Maasai warrior kills a lion because of killing his cow, the authorities would ferry security personnel to arrest the warrior. In other words, it is acceptable for a lion to kill a cow but not acceptable for a warrior to kill a lion. Lions are more important than the Maasai cows.
Killing a lion in Masaai culture is a test of manhood and so the idea that authorities don't care about their culture as well as their cattle, is a double insult. On the other hand, most tourists go to the Masai Mara, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater precisely to see lions, one of the Big Five. So it is also understandable that the authorities wish to protect their tourist trade which is vital for their economy.
Maasai Cultural Tours:
* Monduli Cultural Walking Safari: Two, three and four day walking safaris with Maasai Guides through Maasai villages near Arusha, Tanzania.
* Two day safari with the Maasai in Tanzania: Includes a visit to several Maasai villages, a cattle market and more.
* Volunteer with the Maasai People: Women are especially encouraged to join educational and health programs based in Narok, Kenya.
The Samburu of Kenya
The Samburu live just north of the equator in the Rift Valley province of Northern Kenya. The Samburu are closely related to the Maasai of East Africa. They speak a similar language, derived from Maa, which is called Samburu.
The Samburu are semi-nomadic pastoralists. Cattle, as well as sheep, goats and camels, are of utmost importance to the Samburu culture and way of life. The Samburu are extremely dependent on their animals for survival. Their diet consists mostly of milk and sometimes blood from their cows. The blood is collected by making a tiny nick in the jugular of the cow, and draining the blood into a cup. The wound is then quickly sealed with hot ash. Meat is only consumed on special occasions. The Samburu diet is also supplemented with roots, vegetables and tubers dug up and made into a soup.
Traditional Samburu Culture
The Rift Valley province in Kenya is a dry, somewhat barren land, and the Samburu have to relocate to ensure their cattle can feed. Every 5-6 weeks the group will move to find fresh grazing grounds. Their huts are built from mud, hide and grass mats strung over poles. A thorny fence is built around the huts for protection from wild animals. These settlements are called manyattas . The huts are constructed so they are easily dismantled and portable when the Samburu move to a new location.
The Samburu usually live in groups of five to ten families. Traditionally men look after the cattle and they are also responsible for the safety of the tribe. As warriors they defend the tribe from attack by both man and animals. They also go on raiding parties to try and take cattle from rival Samburu clans. Samburu boys learn to tend cattle from a young age and are also taught to hunt. An initiation ceremony to mark their entry into manhood is accompanied by circumcision.
Samburu women are in charge of gathering roots and vegetables, tending to children and collecting water. They are also in charge of maintaining their homes. Samburu girls generally help their mothers with their domestic chores. Entry into womanhood is also marked with a circumcision ceremony.
Samburu traditional dress is a striking red cloth wrapped around like a skirt (called Shukkas) and a white sash. This is enhanced with many colorful beaded necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Both men and women wear jewelry although only the women make it. The Samburu also paint their faces using striking patterns to accentuate their facial features. Neighboring tribes, admiring the beauty of the Samburu people, called them samburu which in fact means "butterfly". The Samburu referred to themselves as the Loikop. Dancing is very important in the Samburu culture. Dances are similar to that of the Maasai with men dancing in a circle and jumping very high from a standing position. The Samburu have traditionally not used any instruments to accompany their singing and dancing. Men and women do not dance in the same circles, but they do coordinate their dances. Likewise for village meetings, men will sit in an inner circle to discuss matters and make decisions. Women sit around the outside and interject with their opinions.
The Samburu Today
As with many traditional tribes, the Samburu are under pressure from their government to settle into permanent villages. They have been extremely reluctant to do so since obviously permanent settlement would disrupt their entire way of life. The area they live in is very arid and it's difficult to grow crops to sustain a permanent site. This basically means the Samburu will become dependent on others for their survival. Since status and wealth in Samburu culture is synonymous with the amount of cattle one owns, a sedentary agricultural lifestyle is not in the least attractive. Samburu families who have been forced to settle will often send their adult men to the cities to work as guards. This is a form of employment that has evolved naturally because of their strong reputation as warriors.
Visiting the Samburu
The Samburu live in a very beautiful, sparsely populated part of Kenya with abundant wildlife. Much of the land is now protected and community development initiatives have extended to eco-friendly lodges jointly run by the Samburu. As a visitor, the best way to get to know the Samburu is to stay at a community run lodge, or enjoy a walking or camel safari with Samburu guides. While many safaris offer the option of visiting a Samburu village, the experience is often less than authentic. The links below attempt to give the visitor (and the Samburu) a more meaningful exchange.
* Sarara Tented Camp: Sarara Camp is a luxury tented camp, built from local materials. It overlooks a waterhole which attracts a variety of game and flocks of birds. Local Samburu help run the camp and the community benefits directly through the Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust which manages the land.
* Koija Starbeds Lodge: Stay at this wonderful eco-friendly lodge managed by the local community. Walking safaris can be arranged as well as visits to traditional Samburu and Maasai communities.
* Il Ngwesi Lodge: An award-winning eco-lodge owned and run by the local community. It is constructed with materials from the local area and comprises six individual cottages, which all have adjoining open air showers. You can explore the area on foot, on camel or in a traditional safari vehicle.
* Maralal Camel Safari: Maralal lies at the heart of Samburu land and this 7 day camel safari is led by Samburu warriors. This is not a luxury safari, but you will be taken good care of. A support vehicle carries luggage and supplies.
Estimated land area to be used is half an acre
1. Type of cows: Frisian
2. Number of cows: 2 for a start.
3. The piece of land can support at least 5 cows and 20 goats if available.
This farming of cows will be specifically for milk production, milk produced will be consumed at the centre and most of it shall be sold at the diary centre, the money received shall be used as salaries and wages for the workers in this farm and the remainder shall be used as funds for other activities.
1. Estimated production: 1 fresian cow will produce at least 5 litres or more of milk per milking session.
2. Per day (5 *2) =10 litres
3. Therefore 2 cows will produce atleast 20 litres a day less estimated consumption of 3 litres.
4. The 17 litres at a price of 50 shillings at the diary translates to ksh.850.
5. Monthly its ( 850*30) = kshs.25,500.
-Availability of volunteers from the surrounding community who are willing to help with work in the home will also be a sustaining factor of the project in that it will reduce the expenditure on salaries and wages.
- Apart from sustainability of the current project at hand of feeding and education, a percentage of the farms' produce shall be saved in 'Tujitegemee' kitty which will be used at the exit point of the children.