The majority of Maasai still practice their traditional way of life and live as pastoralists with cattle at the centre of their culture and social life. They are very proud to welcome guests and tell about their everyday life in the bush.Karen Blixen Camp supports the local Maasai community and guests are able to visit the Mararienda Village, the local primary school and the busy Maasai market.
Traditional Maasai village
The traditional Masai village is called a Manyatta and consists of a number of small cow dung made huts with thatched roofs. The huts are placed in a circle with livestock in the middle and a thick thorny fence for protection against the nightly predators.The Mararienda Village has around inhabitants and guests visiting this traditional Maasai Manyatta will spend time learning about their life, culture and customs. Mornings are cool and usually busy for the women and girls with milking of cows and goats; later the herders take the cattle for grazing on the Mara plains.Guests of Karen Blixen Camp are kindly requested to obtain a ticket before visiting the village. The proceeds are forwarded directly to the villagers through a transparent ticketing system ensuring them a decent income to provide for basic necessities as food stuffs, clothing or school fees.Karen Blixen Camp is working with Tribal Voice Communications Ltd. to ensure transparent revenue distribution for the Maasai local communities. Please visit www.tribal-voice.co.uk for more information.
Local primary school
All over the world, children go to school, sit in class rooms and listen to the teachers. The Masai children are no exception. They get up very early in the morning, pack their books and pencils and walk through the bush in their blue and white uniforms to the school.The local Aitong Primary School in Aitong Village has around 700 pupils and 15 teachers with 8 classes. Each teacher teaches 60-70 pupils so classrooms are filled with little boys and girls sitting next to each other on the school benches, eager to learn. The Aitong Primary School is a Kenyan Governmental school and provides free education for the Maasai children. However, governmental funding has not been sufficient and well-wishers as well as parents are contributing with financial support for teachers’ salaries, school fees, construction of classrooms and basic learning aids.Karen Blixen Camp has fundraised 140,000 USD for building a boarding unit, purchasing tables and chairs, employing teachers and buying learning equipment as text books, exercise books, pens and pencils for Aitong Primary School. The donation was given by the Danish Obel Family Fund.
Busy market days
The market days are full of life with women trying to sell their goods to other women. Tomatoes, onions, potatoes, kangas, Masai shukas, and small toys are all neatly laid out on the straw mats placed on the ground with the mamas sitting patiently waiting for their prospective customers.The Maasai women are dressed in their very best; red and blue dresses with pretty jewelry around the forehead, neck, arms and ankles. Many come from afar and have been looking forward to this festive happening to gossip and hear news of friends and families.Most of the women only speak Maa, but this won’t stop them from bargaining and haggling over prices with the interested buyer. Guests are welcome to come to a Masai market day in Mararienda Village or in Aitong Village. Your Maasai guide will accompany you, tell you more about the Maasai culture and translate should you wish to buy any product.
The wedding necklace
The Maasai women form the base of the Maasai society. They take care of children and co-wives’ children. They fetch water and firewood from far away. They milk and tend to the cattle in the early mornings and late afternoons when the cattle returns from grazing the savannah.The wedding necklace is an activity where you meet the Maasai women; learn about their everyday life and how to make the beautiful Masai beadwork. In return they learn about you and your cultural background. Since focus will be on the transition from girlhood to womanhood within the Maasai society, only female guests are able to take part in this activity.
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