Maasai Village Visits

Old May 27th, 2006, 01:06 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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I spend time among the Maasai for writing projects which requires that I camp with them. Those who live traditionally--and that means nowadays that their young men are absent, employed as guards in Dar and on Zanzibar, or in the tanzanite mines near JRO--call their kin in Ngorongoro the "mean Maasai" for how they have been affected by the tourism industry. I've seen big changes in the Ngare Sero Maaasi (Lake Natron) as more travellers head that way and buy their beads. The problem for tight safari schedules is that if you truly want to experience the Maasai then you need to go where they might not want to experience you! (Although they are an hospitable people.) All the better if you have to walk. The reality of an actual Maasai settlement is far different from that of an Ngorongoro cultural boma. Children lose their eyesight to infection and adults their lives to tuberculosis. I am not saying that visitors shouldn't stop at the bomas, but please be aware that what you see is contrived.
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Old May 27th, 2006, 04:01 AM
  #22  
 
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bat,
I know we brushed a bit on the female mutilation issue a bit in my trip report to the point that at least one person was offended - oh well.

Anyhow, I've kept in touch with my Tanzanian, Maisai and Datoga buddies who have remained involved with the cause at a grass roots level and am told that there are slow but steady improvements being made regarding this issue. The men are understanding that this is an harmful and unnec. practice. Some of the resistance is actually coming from the women. This makes sense when you realize that the men are generally more exposed to the outside world.
The Maisai as you know, are a mostly peaceful and kind group who do not want to harm their women once they're educated to the reprocussions of this violent mutilation.

I do believe from what I'm hearing, that all is not lost with this cause and there truly is hope that the upcoming generations will obliterate this.

Because the most success has been thru grass roots efforts from the Maisai themselves and Tanzanians we're just not hearing about it. The foriegn effort apparently just doesn't seem to work nearly as well as you'd expect than Maisai to Maisai education.
So not all hope is lost for these girls.
Sherry
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Old May 27th, 2006, 01:53 PM
  #23  
bat
 
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cybor:
Thanks for that info. Re: someone being offended about the discussion on your trip report thread, I missed that--was it on the thread? [you don't need to revisit it here I just thought I had followed your report closely and did not catch it.] Do your contacts in TZ have any suggestions for ways that we can help? You can write to me off-line if you want.
barbatt at gmail dot com
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Old May 28th, 2006, 12:17 PM
  #24  
 
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MamaTembo,
What are your Maasai writing projects?

Cybor & Bat,
One of the dances initiated by the 3-year old and her girlfriends was the circumcision dance. Hearing the name of the dance was a shock to me. I knew the practice occurred, but did not expect toddlers to be celebrating it.

I did not feel comfortable asking if the 18 year old sister, who was studying to be a nurse, had been through the procedure or what her thoughts were on it. Had I been more inquisitive or bolder I might have learned a lot.

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Old May 28th, 2006, 01:10 PM
  #25  
bat
 
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lyn:
Not a subject you could bring up easily, if at all.
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 05:50 AM
  #26  
 
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Hi bat,
Not much we can do, as far as I know. Money or involvement doesn't seem wanted or needed - I've asked. I'm told that the Maisai plant their feet deeper when 'outsiders' are seen to interfere.
Even the Tanzanians skate on thin ice when approaching this matter. Pole, Pole is what I'm told - makes sense to me.
Peace;
Sherry
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Old Jun 1st, 2006, 01:21 PM
  #27  
bat
 
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thanks sherry.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 02:22 PM
  #28  
 
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Atravelynn and Cybor:

Thank you very much for your input. This was a new tipping scenario for me and I am glad it has come to my attention before my trip.

I think I have all the tips, gifts, and supporting ones outfitter’s charity down now but I really will not be surprised if something new crops up!

Den
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Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 03:09 PM
  #29  
aby
 
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Lynn
u write:
"One of the dances initiated by the 3-year old and her girlfriends was the circumcision dance. Hearing the name of the dance was a shock to me. I knew the practice occurred, but did not expect toddlers to be celebrating it. "
why wouldn't u expect them to celebrate it? They r very proud of their culture !!
i have a documentary, recorded years ago, showing the Ollaibon's wife answering an anthropologist why they circumcise girls & why she thinks this custom should b continued.
Their sticking to their traditions is the reason so many come to pay a visit & the existance of this thread.
btw 'westernized' Jomo Kenyatta in his book supports contiuation of this Kikuyu tradition, but his own people later stopped it ...
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Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 03:11 PM
  #30  
aby
 
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Sherry

any reason u keep on writing "Maisai" instead of Maasai (Maa is their language) or Masai ?

aby
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Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 03:38 PM
  #31  
 
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aby,
No reason per se. But if you really want one, then I guess it's just a simple matter of being a poor speller - always have been - never could enter a spelling bee. Could be a rebellious tactic against my writing/editor mother.
I will try harder .

Not to be petty, but.... I've actually always wondered why you use (#) - the number symbol or (@) - at rather than bullets or * when making your points? I guess I never thought it appropriate to ask on an open forum but I will now.

Peace;
Sherry
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Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 05:10 PM
  #32  
aby
 
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Sherry dear

simply thought there was a reason to it (always ready to re-define the concensus) ...

SORRY if it was inadequate to ask on an open forum {i m trying now to hide behind my being 'non-english native speaker' or 'non-American' thus not fully understanding your micro codes of behaviour}

as for my use of atypical signs
# i don't know how to use bullets on this forum
@ maybe i wanted to create my own individual special style, so that people would think i'm special ...
* such an asterik indicates 4me 'footnotes'

with Love

aby

PS double-checkingmyself, since i'm probably the only one on this forum writing "u" etc' - Is It inappropriate ?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 07:18 PM
  #33  
 
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Interesting comments on spelling and language in light of the recent spelling bee where the winning word was ursprache, a technical term for language or language origin.

Once again this forum is the pulse of the national and international scene.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2006, 06:02 AM
  #34  
 
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Hello aby,
I do apologize for putting you on the spot as I did. I guess it was my lame attempt to try to get you to lighten up a bit with your comments on myself and others on this board.
I feel that your a very valuable contributer on this forum, as I'm sure others do and look forward to hearing more from you.
Peace;
Sherry
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Old Jun 3rd, 2006, 08:10 AM
  #35  
 
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aby,
u can rite hwevr u want

i admit hard 4 me 2 deci4 what u rite 2

i prolly jus need to txt more, i dunno

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Old Jun 3rd, 2006, 12:10 PM
  #36  
 
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Re. the cut or FGM: I wouldn’t try to start teaching people how to change their culture if the only thing I knew about it was that FGM is practised and that it is bad. And I wouldn’t embarrass a guide half of whose job is not to say anything to embarrass or offend tourists. There are so many things that never are mentioned. If the issue were brought up I’d try to get as much information as possible. As in many cultures, Maasai women have a much lower status than men. The painful and physically harmful FGM is not the worst aspect of this, but many Maasai girls are running away from home to escape it, primarily because it’s often followed by forced marriage to older men. Due to increased poverty, girls are even married off at an earlier age than traditionally. There are various Maasai led rescue centres for these girls like Agnes Pareyio’s Tasaru Ntomonok in Narok, Priscilla Nangurai’s African Inland Church rescue centre in Kajiado (though this one seems disturbingly Christian) and this initiative by a Maasai man: http://www.maasaieducation.org/
The Maasai have a history of experiences with outsiders with evil intents trying to change their culture.

Lynn,
Thanks for your wonderful Maasai experience story.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2006, 03:26 PM
  #37  
 
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Hi Lynn,

What a wonderful experience you had.

Aby,

I have to admit that I also find the use of text-speak a bit hard to read sometimes...Patty isn't the only one.

Cheers,
Julian
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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 11:29 AM
  #38  
 
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Hi,

I am new to this forum - came across it on the web when I was looking for Agnes Pareiyo's address, but couldn't resist joining in. I am British, my husband is Maasai and we live in Arusha and Monduli, northern Tanzania. We were inspired to set up Oreteti Cultural Discovery (oreteti dot com) last year in response to the frustration of tourists that they can't find an 'authentic' Maasai village program, and demands by Maasai communities for more local control and management of programs. We offer programs from half a day to six days in our family homestead in the Maasai village of Eluwai, participating fully in community life and genuine dialogues with the local people. Not less than 20-25% of the advertised price of each cultural program goes direct to the community, with the remainder being largely car hire, food, water, etc. We also donate 10% of the profit from safaris and mountain climbing to Aang Serian (aangserian dot org dot uk), a local NGO that helps to preserve and promote indigenous knowledge as well as fighting FGM and HIV/AIDS.

FGM -yes, it's a tough one. I fully agree, the women are doing it out of (misguided) love, not cruelty. They believe that it prevents a certain disease, protects health and fertility, and enables the girls to become adult women who can be married and fully respected in the society. But there is definitely hope. By inviting Agnes Pareiyo and other Kenyan Maasai women to talk to community leaders (while we 'emeeki', or non-Maasai women, stay well and truly in the background), Aang Serian has started to make some progress in making the idea of a non-mutilating rite of passage acceptable. Ten circumcisers have already handed in their tools. They want everything else about the rite to stay the same - feasting, singing, dancing, planting of a green branch, etc. We are also trying to start up a beadwork group for ex-circumcisers to make a living without having to depend on FGM, and to develop a new educational program that they can be trained to offer to the girls during the rite of passage (teaching them a mixture of traditional and modern education about health, child care, how to be a good Maasai wife, etc...)

Any thoughts welcome...

best wishes
Gemma Enolengila
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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 02:43 PM
  #39  
 
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Sopa Gemma,

I had a look at your amazing website and saw that you had “Maa for beginners” tuition! I’ve never found any suitable books. Do you write your own? If so, could I buy one? At the moment I can’t travel to Arusha.

The rite of passage without FGM sounds like an excellent idea. But instead of being thought how to be good Maasai wives the girls should be taught how to be really BAD and how to refuse marrying ugly old men. The boys could be taught how to be good husbands … Just some “ideas”.
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Old Nov 21st, 2006, 06:46 PM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Sorry for long delay in replying! No, we don't have a Maa language book - it is an oral language so we teach it orally. There are two books on the market, one by Frans Mol and the other by Tucker and Mpaayei, but both of them are really grammars for linguists rather than phrase-books for people who want to communicate with the Maasai. They teach useful phrases such as as 'Lo! I spear the hedgehog' and 'What are those? They are elephants!'

Re FGM - yes, we are teaching the boys too (and the men). We would cause far too much chaos if we started teaching the girls not to agree to marry ugly old men - but we do try and persuade the men to wait until they finish secondary school. We currently have 27 refugee girls who have run away from FGM and early marriage and are hoping to get an education - we are desperate for sponsorship to enable them to stay on at school, so if you know anyone who can help, please contact me - [email protected].
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