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Archive for July 12th, 2016

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

 

Me with my new Maasai friend, Namitu.

Me with my new Maasai friend, Namitu.

 

Visiting the Maasai village was a moving and heartwarming experience.  The Maasai tribe has managed to hold on to their traditions and culture in the midst of modernization in Tanzania.  Some of the practices are controversial and should not be continued.  Some, however, are kept as deep-seeded practices that define them as a people.

In the village, each woman in our group was matched with a tribal woman.  They dressed us in traditional drapes and jewels.  They taught us how to bead and weave baskets, to carry thatches on our heads, and to do some of the tasks of women.

My friend’s name was Namitu.  She could speak limited English and asked my name.  When I told her, she pointed to her 2-year old daughter and said, “My baby, Margaret.”  This type of thing happened once before to Karen, a woman on our tour.  I think this may be a way they honor us.

Learning to bead a bracelet

Learning to bead a bracelet

We walked to the cow pasture where men blooded a calf.  Apparently, this does not harm the calf.  They shoot a spear to the jugular vein.  When the blood gushes, they catch it in a long gourd-like container that holds goat’s milk.  I did not bravely partake, but a young traveler said it tasted like salty, creamy soup.

Blooding the calf

Blooding the calf

Another tradition that we participated in was a dance.  This may have been a mating dance of sorts because Namitu asked me to pick a husband.  Her little son held my hand and led me to a line of chanting men.  One of these men turned and touched me shoulder to shoulder.  If I had accepted this marriage proposal, I would have had to pay in cows.  Wealth is measured in cows.

After all the festivities, we went into the chief’s hut to have a discussion of controversial issues.  They allowed open discussion.  Karen asked the Maasai woman (29 yrs old and mother of 3 daughters) if she was circumcised.  She is, but now they are educated about this, so she will not pass this mutilation on to her daughters.  Karen was so touched she rose and hugged and kissed the young woman.  I was moved to tears.  This practice should be stopped.  Our guide assured us that as more and more of the Maasai are sent to school and educated, they learn of the practices that should be abandoned.

In the end, we were given the opportunity to shop for beaded items.  I bought the circular ring Namitu made.  She said it took her a month to bead it.
Even though this visit was organized to show us an enjoyable time, I felt the spirit of the Maasai and came to respect their culture.  I hope they are able to keep the spirit of their traditions as they come to know and understand the world.

Laughter is universal!

Laughter is universal!

 

This is my third Tanzania journal entry.  To read about clay water filters, journal entry #1, click here.  To read and enjoy a video of Tarangire animals, click here.

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