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A visit to a Maasai Village

We visited a Maasai Village one afternoon while we were in Tanzania. It was optional and they charged $20 a person, but we were free and encouraged to take pictures and interact with the residents. This village had about 30 houses surrounded by a fence to keep predators out. At one side there was a cattle pen where the cattle and goats resided at night. During the day they were out grazing usually under the care of quite young kids although one or more of the men were nearby with spears in case of lions.

One of the houses:

These men and women were there to greet us. Some of the men did a traditional dance which includes lots of jumping up and down. Inside the village they were selling their handcrafted jewelry.

And some of the mothers with babies. Sadly the babies were often covered with flies. Philip, our guide, said that some were Tse-tse flies.

We broke up into little groups and visited a house. Barrie and I were hosted by this fellow (whose name I forgot). The house is quite small (about 12 feet in diameter and about 5 feet high) and very dark. In the center of the roof there is a hole for smoke to exit and there are a couple of miniscule windows. There was a small alcove for babies to sleep, one for the parents, and one for young calves who needed to be fed. The houses have a timber structure and are covered with a mixture of grass, mud, and cow manure.

The village had a huge pile of cow manure in the center which is used for fuel (seen in the foreground of the photo of the house); there was essentially no smell since it was all dried out.

Our host told us that he had only one wife and one child. This is a rarity in the Maasai culture; he seemed proud of the fact that he had only one wife and said it was certainly easier to live that way. His English was pretty good and he probably had some High School education. We asked about medical care. He said that there are people in the village with medical care skills such as midwifery and use of herbs, but they do get to go to to doctors.

On the edge of the village - outside the wall - there was a one-room school house that was used for a kindergarden. Older kids go to school outside the village. These kids were reciting the alphabet and counting. I suspect that this was a show for us, but it is a real school.