Friday 27 May 2016

Knitting for the Maasai

Part Time Maasai Warrior IV

OK a bit of cute before the blood drinking and other warriorlike activities to come.

My mother has been knitting and here's the result. I shall be taking Maasai Ted with me and will find a baby warrior to give him to. Not sure if we've got the robes (properly called a shuka) quite right, but there will be plenty of advice on site, and of course I will be wearing the correct gear myself for the initiation ceremony so I will know for next time.

Monday 23 May 2016

Mystery Tour

Part Time Maasai Warrior III

The travel plans for my trip to the Maasai Steppe are encouragingly vague. This is not travelling for those who like a firm itinerary. I do know that the big ceremony, during which I will be initiated, will take place over two days in early June. I know the name of the village where it will take place, but as I can't find it on Google Maps or indeed Search I am not much the wiser.

What I do know is that a young warrior will be dispatched from the village to Dar es Salaam to meet me at some point after I fly in. He will then escort me on the journey which involves a couple of long and uncomfortable bus rides and then a motorbike. It may take a day or it may take two.

How I will hook up with the young warrior in the chaos of Dar - one of the continent's fastest growing urban centres and slated as Africa's next Megalopolis - is to be decided.

Sunday 8 May 2016

Using Ideas As My Maps

Part Time Maasai Warrior II

I love this map of Africa from an old Victorian family atlas. The"Dark Continent" actually contains a huge expanse of white space representing the unmapped interior.

Fast forward to May 2016 and I consult today's equivalent, Google Maps, for my forthcoming trip to see the Maasai. I am delighted to discover that the village I am visiting is not on Google Maps - I am going to the digital equivalent of a cartographer's white hole. It feels like a real expedition.

Why would I want to drink more blood?

Part Time Maasai Warrior I

The days are counting down before I leave for my expedition to the Maasai Steppe and my thoughts - as well as my gag reflex - turn to the blood I will be drinking when I get there.

I am attending a very important ceremony which marks the transition for my Maasai brothers Juma and Frank into senior elders. As a sideshow, I shall also complete my own initiation into their tribe.

I have drunk fresh blood before. It would be fair to say that it's not my favourite tipple. The taste of warm blood is not at all bad. It's mixed with milk into a sort of smoothie and the flavour of the milk dominates over the blood. However the texture is challenging. The warriors whisk the blood furiously to prevent clotting, with only partial success. Globules of clotted blood can be a bit difficult to swallow. Best to drink it quickly before more form.

It's difficult to prepare myself for this. Black pudding is about as close as I can get. But I shouldn't fret. I am sure blood milkshakes are very healthy - after all the Maasai look pretty good on them. I may even repair some of the Mojito-induced liver damage from Barcelona last week.