Kenya: A Culture Clash Lesson with the Masai
By Anita Draycott
“A man without culture is like a zebra without stripes.” That said, tribal elder, Pius, gave our small group the honour of visiting his village. The Masai are true nomads who believe they are the rightful owners of all the cows in the world. Wealth is measured by the number of bovines owned. When one of Pius’ wives inquired about the health of my cattle, she was shocked and saddened when I informed her that I had none. In Masai culture it’s rude to ask how many cows one owns, but OK to inquire about age or number of wives.
I also met Olerasio, a majestic Masai warrior and I’ve got a crush on him. He wears the traditional red toga, beaded necklaces and bangles (one for each girlfriend). His hairdo, smeared with red ochre and sheep fat takes a whole day to create. The Masai live on a diet of cow’s milk and blood with the occasional slab of goat. I could go on with fascinating tales about rites of passage and polygamy ...