Kenya. Part 2. The Maasai People.

A Maasai warrior is a fine sight. Those young men have, to the utmost extent, that particular form of intelligence which we call chic; daring and wildly fantastical as they seem, they are still unswervingly true to their own nature, and to an immanent ideal. Their style is not an assumed manner, nor an imitation of a foreign perfection; it has grown from the inside, and is an expression of the race and its history, and their weapons and finery are as much a part of their being as are a stag’s antlers.” -Karen Blixen-

The African Impact project I volunteered at was right next to a guiding school, where Maasai people take a year-long course to learn to become safari guides. Nearly every day when we went out on a game drive two of them would accompany us as part of their training. They are such friendly people and when learning or working they always wear their traditional clothes. I took a trip to the local Maasai village whilst I was there, and whilst there is a certain ‘touristy’ element to the visit, it was fascinating to see how they live. When we arrived we were greeted by them outside the village circle and they led us through an archway into the ‘village’ itself. The second photo is processed in the way I often like to experiment – extremely high key and over exposed as I like to see colours ‘pop’.

The first thing I noticed was a lady repairing her roof with a mixture of cow dung, soil and water. The women seem to do most of the physical work around the home. I then noticed these two little girls, especially the shoes…

The Maasai men are renowned for their jumping skills. Many travellers to Tanzania and Kenya visit a Maasai village and have the opportunity to watch or take part in the adamu, the dance affectionately referred to as the “jumping dance.” It’s an impressive dance, not only for its energy but also for its deceptively simple appearance. The bottom photo shows just how young they are when they want to join in!

We were taken inside one of the houses which had very little light inside as there was just one extremely small hole for a window. It wasn’t nearly enough and we had to walk almost blindly in. In the centre of the room was a fire which filled the room with smoke, to the extent that my eyes were watering. Inside but off to one side we could hear a crying baby – that smoke must be sooooo bad for its lungs. Just before we left our eyes had adjusted enough to make out the woman holding the baby but it was too dark to photograph her. On the right of the photo below is the Maasai man who showed us around.

Back outside and I asked permission and grabbed photos of these people in their doorways. I was glad that they haven’t learned to ‘smile for the camera’.

This group of men were just sitting around passing the time of day. Maasai men wear a lot of jewellery and it looks absolutely right on them. I also love the bright colours they wear. It makes me realise that we wear far too much black and grey here in the UK.

Women sit for hours on end making beaded jewellery. They sit on the ground with legs outstretched, backs straight, and nothing supporting them. I don’t know how old the lady is below, but at her age most people need reading glasses. Somehow she can still manage to thread tiny beads without them.

As I was about to photograph these women a goat ran in front of them. As they do…… I decided to keep this photo as it tells a story.
Maasai men often stand on one foot and rest the other one against their knee.

This man was very happy to be photographed but he only had one expression – a permanent scowl at the camera. I’ve given the image my high key treatment and like the way it turned out. It’s not to everyone’s liking, but that’s OK. When I’m not working for a client I can do what I like and play around with my images.


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