The Maasai people are a nomadic tribe living off the land and preserving their culture and tradition. They also are working to preserve their Maasai Mara or dotted land (dotted with trees and dotted with wildlife).
In order to improve the lives of the Maasai people, the government began to require the children go to school and to do so meant they had to give up their nomadic life and settle in villages. Land was allotted and the people began to settle. The primary food source is goats and cattle and their milk. Boys as young as 7-8 are given the responsibility of shepherding the family’s cattle (yes, often among the lions). A man’s wealth is measured by the size of his herds. We found out that asking how many cattle a Maasai owned was like asking how much they had in their bank account – oops…
The Sentinel Camp where we stayed employs the Maasai to run the camp, they were extremely friendly and service oriented, waiting on us hand and foot. These wonderful people became a part of our extended group and intimate part of safari experience. They also employed specially trained guides to lead the game drives …And, Dominic, our guide, was the person who made each safari game drive a lifetime memory and he became like family.
Our guide Dominic must be able to answer questions about wildlife which includes 1,000+ bird species and fauna throughout Kenya and Tanzania. Every question we posed he had an answer. My guess is they were all correct! Becoming a guide is not easy. He first went to a two-year college program. After passing a comprehensive exam, he became what is known as a “bronze” guide. He then worked for three years as a guide, studied hard, took more classes, and sat for another comprehensive exam and graduated to become a “Silver” guide. He is now in the process of becoming a “Gold” guide after a couple or more years of field experience and, yes, another major exam. Note that there are less than 20 gold guides in Kenya and Tanzania.
Intrigued by the people of our camp, we opted to visit a local village….
Singing and dancing in celebration, all the women of the village came out to greet us. Their love for life and warm welcome brought tears to my eyes. We were all moved, even a few of the fellows in our group hid their watery eyes behind their sunglasses.
The brightly colored outfits were a site to behold.
They shared their customs.
After the time spent at the village, with our camp staff and especially our guide, Dominic, we developed a love for the people of the Maasai Mara.
And, yes, it is still all about the light