Maasai Mara…some facts

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDo you remember that ‘80s film, The Gods Must Be Crazy, where the strange object falls out of the sky, and at first they think it is a present from the gods, only to realise that it brought more harm than good?

It was this film and one called, Cheetah, which introduced me to African culture: food, language, music, scenery and people. As a kid, I watched a lot of films set in ancient times, so when I arrived in Rome and laid my eyes on the old city, I felt like I was reliving an old film and had to pinch myself. Although The Gods Must be Crazy was set elsewhere, visiting the Masai Mara village and travelling through Kenya brought me back to my childhood and my vivid imaginations of Africa.

Just over a week ago I was picked up by my driver, Michael, who seemed like a very cheery fellow. With a big smile, he introduced me to Anna, Fuji and Miki, who would be my family for the next couple of days. Five minutes from the orphanage, our matatu (a small van which is the primary mode of transport in Kenya) conked out. Michael began revving the engine attempting to start the motor. I thought to myself, Will we make the six hour drive to Masai Mara? We began the first of our 4WD trip, crossing the highway up a steep slope to get to the petrol station.

After his second attempt at finding a petrol station with petrol and replenishing the tank, then dropping off the receptionist of his tour company back at work (who climbed into the matatu at petrol station two), then stopping to place the tour company’s signage, Pegas Tours, on the front and back of the matatu, we were FINALLY on our way.

Now to go into explicit detail about my Safari trip may be more painful for you as a reader, than for me to remember and articulate each moment! And some experiences are better left unsaid. So thoughtfully I have spared you. There were many moments which made me laugh, shake my head in amusement and send shivers down my spine. My scariest moment was watching a fight between a tour guide, who hit a Masai’s sheep, and a Masai get resolved with 4,000 shillings and a knock on the head with a club (thankfully the large knife wasn’t used). We (the tourists) sat in the matatu trying to decide what we would do if it got really nasty. Thankfully the Masai, although angry he didn’t get 10,000, listened to his mates who were attempting to calm him down.

So I will summarise with a list of facts given by the Masai tribe.

After payment of 1,000 shillings ($14 approximately), we were invited to enter the village and meet the locals. The men welcomed us with a traditional dance and taught us how to start a fire. After spitting into my palms and rubbing the stick furiously, I accepted that lighting fires this way was something I had to work on.

William, was a lovely young Masai, who was eager to chat and talk about his culture. This is what I learned:

  • The tribe lives in a large circular area with 25 families.
  • The families are all related, descendants from one grandfather.
  • They cannot marry within their village and find brides within the communities.
  • Men can have more than one wife (his father has five).
  • Each family has their own entry point or alleyway into the village close to their hut.
  • The first wife keeps to the right when walking through the alleyway, the second wife and so on remain on the left.
  • The women cook, fetch firewood and water, tend to children, build the huts and make jewellery to sell.
  • The men hunt, tend to flocks, provide for their family and design the huts.
  • The huts are built from mud, dung or local materials.
  • The red cloth the Masai wear represents the different family groups.
  • The Masai bring their animals into the centre of the village. The alleyways are blocked up overnight for protection.
  • Children go to school nearby and are supported with money from tourists.
  • To be initiated to manhood a group of boys go away for 5 years with the elders, where they learn to throw a spear and hunt. Then after five years, they hunt a lion. Whoever throws the first spear and kills the lion is entitled to the head. He makes a necklace from the teeth. This necklace is used to get a free bride, so no dowry is used.
  • The oldest son is expected to remain in the village to continue the tradition.
  • Masais’ main diet is blood, milk, meat and sometimes maize.

William was also excited to talk about his learning. He never went to school but learned mathematics and taught himself to read and write by watching others. After some math quizzes, William asked me if I have Facebook or Whatsapp messenger. It was hilarious to see him pull out a mobile from under his red dress, and give me his details.

Hope you learned something new!

Good night x



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Creeping slowly upon you

Never noticing its arrival

The aches constantly remind you

It’s almost too much to bear

The darkness envelopes you

Overwhelms you, becomes you

Like a thick fog it invades your mind

It’s almost too much to bear

The ripples become stronger

Pain hangs, hopelessness so heavy

Your body acts by an invisible force

It’s almost too much to bear

You frantically search and pray

Hoping to hear a comforting voice

Who hears your cries across the seas

It’s almost too much to bear

You call for someone to hold you

Through the red tears you call

To gently cradle your heart in their hands

But you have no one, not one soul


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The Clay Puppet

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Clay. It can be so soft. Warm in your hands as you knead it. Press it. An impression visible. A fingerprint. Lines curved…one after the other…a layer…creating a pattern. Shape it into whatever you want it to be. Flatten it out because it wasn’t what you wanted, or not good enough. Reshaped and moulded over and over again until you get exactly what you want. Exactly what you imagined.

Have you ever heard the story of the clay puppet? She was formed from a chunky piece of clay. Not the really hard stuff but the soft malleable clay. Like the clay I found on the banks of a dam when I went swimming as a kid. My feet squished into the red warmth and it oozed between my toes. When I picked it up, I allowed my fingers move with no thought. It was an addictive feeling. The sensations so soothing. So smooth. I decided to fashion a bowl and fruit. Over a few days the clay bowl hardened. The sun dried out the moisture. It was no longer soft and malleable. It was set.

The clay puppet was born from a clump; a reddish-brown piece of soft clay. The sculptors wanted her to be perfect. First her body was formed, ever so daintily, with a little dress. Then her limbs: arms, legs, fingers, toes. Tiny toes. Her head was the most challenging part as it had to be flawless. Little eyes, a button nose, full lips, round face. Clay was shaped into strings of wavy hair and attached to her head. Ears to listen and a line for a mouth. Closed. But she was not finished yet. She needed to think and feel. So a little heart was placed on top of her body. Odd you may think, to place the heart on top of the body. But how was one to control her heart if it was invisible, hidden on the inside? Her head was fashioned with lines and impressions, over and over again. Finally, strings were attached to help her move, to help her function in the world. The creators were very proud of their work and excited to have this clay puppet as their own. She belonged to no one else.

The clay puppet was ever so grateful that she was brought to life. That she could see, observe, feel, love and be loved. She didn’t mind being told how to think, or behave, or respond. She didn’t mind that she was told what she could do or not do. What she could like or not like. Who she should love and not love. She was just ever so grateful that she was alive and loved and cared for. She was surviving. What more could she want? What more should she want?

Then one day, she broke free……



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Go Down the Rabbit Hole: A Writer’s Manifesto

Really great read for writers!!!

Writing for Digital Media

1. You are the work. The work is you: both an articulation of the self and a possibility for self-reflection. Be honest in creation: allow yourself to bleed into the work, but also allow it to work on you. Your work can show you things: illuminate and clarify your own thoughts, motivations, actions. If you do it right, you will find the work changing you, too.

2. Thinking is process. Laying on the floor. Sitting on park benches. Getting lost on purpose. These are all working. Learn the difference between mindless distraction and mindful wandering.

3. Go down the rabbit hole. Sometimes the work isn’t about what you think it is. Allow yourself to get lost down alleyways, to follow a train of thought around a corner. Don’t feel you need to reign yourself in. Too much focus squeezes all the possibility for revelation out of the work.

4. Fear…

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Only if I could exceed those Limits

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Like Mother, Like Daughter: On Genes and Responsibility

Like Mother, Like Daughter: On Genes and Responsibility.

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Like Mother, Like Daughter: On Genes and Responsibility

I really enjoyed reading this post. I find the discussion about genetics and nature vs nuture fascinating. Coming from a personal experience, I really do feel that genetics plays a huge part, no matter who brought you up or your surroundings. I didn’t see my Dad from the age of 9 years old for 20 years. I was brought up by my step-dad so thought I would become like him. But when I met my biological dad again, I couldn’t believe how similar we are, looks, thoughts, behaviour, interests, passionate temperament, facial expressions, the list goes on. I could even see so many similar mannerisms between Dad and my little brother who was closer to Mum and hadn’t seen Dad since he was 6. It was like I was looking at my brother!! But I do agree that we have a choice and a free will to change, adapt with self-awareness. We are not locked down by genetics. Interesting points!

Although I found it difficult to understand the terminology of this article, I like the point about what we eat, drink etc can “affect our gene expression and those of our future generations!”

Melissa Writes of Passage

image courtesy of Dwight Pounds Image courtesy of Dwight Pounds

Image courtesy of Dwight Pounds Image courtesy of Dwight Pounds

Driving the plane tree-canopied Roman roads of southern France with my parents last week, I noticed in my peripheral vision that my mom, sitting next to me in the back seat, was gripping the door handle.

Why the grip? I thought. She’s buckled in, there’s no one else on this road, Randall’s a safe driver, and we’re cruising this long, straight line. 

Mid-thought, I realized I was gripping my door handle, too. Exactly like her.

I also saw my mom was chewing gum. (I dislike gum-chewing.)

And mid-thought, I realized I was mid-chawnk.

She’s so animated, I’d been noticing all week, and look at her whip up a conversation with any stranger. Like me, my kids say.  And just like the way she used to call for us – operatically, throughout our little Utah neighborhood –– “Oh, Daaaaaltons! Come…

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