Simanjiro

Part 1. Twilight

We arrived at twilight. About an hour before sunset the land is masked in shadow. The sun drops behind the mist on the horizon and the lighting is constant until half an hour after the orange globe disappears. Then, abruptly, darkness descends. An uninvited house guest. We were left with a camping tradition: fumbling over tent poles and pegs in the dark.

Part 2. The Maasai

The Bush is a picture of contrasts. The land is unfriendly. The ground is hard, sandy, full of hidden thorns. It does not welcome us with open arms, but simply sits disgruntled beneath the rising sun. But the Maasai greet us with smiles and hugs. “Karibu sana,” they beam. Their bright attire– familiar patterns of squares and stripes; blues, oranges, and purples grand enough for a king– shines unmistakably. They colour the barren land.

We came for a choir competition. On Sunday morning we are given seats at the front of church. It is hard to follow a service in Maasai, even when it’s being translated into Swahili. Several Maasai appear in front of me holding small stereos. Then all the locals surrounding me stand up and begin to sing. I am in the middle of a choir, complete with hand actions and smiles. The stereos are recording their song on cassettes. Earlier, the congregation had erupted in song. They sang in rounds, each corner of the open-air church singing a different song. And now I understand: each choir carried its own tune, rising on waves.

The competition was hosted by the Lutherans, but no hymns were sung. The Christian Maasai are admirable in their seamless blend of faith and tradition. Their attire remains bright and colourful, now adorned with beaded crosses. They sing gospel songs in their own style, dancing and hopping with rungus. Majestic is the only word that befits them.

Part 3. Night

I am fascinated by simple things here: the milkiness of the Milky Way. I lie by the fireside and stare up into the sky, counting shooting stars.

Part 4. Karibu tena

In the morning we are invited for chai by a widow. We are welcomed into her humble home, the walls made of branches, mud, and cow dung. Three rooms: a bedroom, guestroom/kitchen, and living area. A small hole is carved into a wall for light. The tea is cooked over a three-stone fire. We sit in the dim light and share stories as children watch us from the doorway.

Advertisements

One Response

  1. gorgeous photo!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: