Live local, buy and sell global

by zunguzungu

I came across this and kind of love it; it’s an “Exclusive Cultural & Safari Experience” in Kenya that is “100% owned and managed by the Maasai.” They note that

Adventure with the Maasai is the kind of experience where you can put your feet up at the end of the day, have a cup of tea, and say yes, this is Africa.

And describe what it will be like in this way:

By sunrise you’ll be awakened by birds each competing for the loudest sound. Walking with the warriors, you see the lion’s footprints and fresh zebra droppings near the watering hole. You stop to see a group of giraffes standing graciously in the midst of tall acacia trees along Kiboko River. The giraffes gaze at you and wonder who are the light-colored clothed foreigners with the Maasai warriors. As you walk pass them they regroup and run across the river. On your way back to the camp you stop at a Maasai village and sip a traditional Maasai chai with your guides. Your day ends with spectacular sunset as it slips away from the wide African landscape. A perfect moment poised in time. This is an experience that will stay with you forever.

These guys know what the heck they’re doing, and they’re doing it well. Here’s a testimonial from someone that went on their tour:

“The Merrueshi village we stayed in was still in its original, pure form, as were the people. I guess I would say that I feel I’ve taken a journey into timelessness, to the way things have been for thousands of years.

In response, I offer you, not words, but pictures. The original, pure form of the Maasai, the way they’ve been for thousands of years, looks like this:

Timeless! Traditional! Now, here are some pictures to look at while you’re drinking your “traditional Maasai chai” (that’s the Kiswahili word for tea, a word and a product that came to Africa over the Indian Ocean). First, traditional Maasai sandals, made, as per tradition, from motorcycle tires:

If the cloth it’s resting on reminds of the Scottish highland dress, there may be an answer locked in 19th century English mill towns and the history of British colonialism that brought things like mass produced cloth along with tea; the Maasai were really quick to trade their leather outfits for cloth and they haven’t looked back since. Also, those beads they wear? Manufactured in India. And for the final piece of awesome, I offer you this marvelous little Maasai dagger I picked up when I went on a cultural tourism safari in TZ several years ago (vintage ZZ description here):

Why yes! It does say “Made in China”! That’s because it is. Doesn’t stop the Maasai from reshaping those machetes into the shape they like and putting it in a traditional leather sheath, of course. (The guy who sold it to me, by the way, didn’t understand why I wanted that one; he was clearly embarrassed that I’d found an unfinished one in among his wares).