Stuart Butler, a writer and photographer who’s covered Africa for more than two decades, recently decided to walk across Maasai lands in Kenya in order to gain a more in-depth understanding of the impact of the 21st century lifestyle, conservation, political pressures and tourism on contemporary Maasai people. He started walking with a Maasai companion on May 25, 2015 and plans to finish around the end of June. (To get more background on the reason for his journey, click here.) Here is a dispatch from his second week on the road.
It’s been a fascinating second week of walking for me on my Walking with the Maasai project. The week began in the Ol Derikesi conservancy and an encounter with Moses Kinyaika, a man whose life story even Hollywood couldn’t dream up. His career began as a gun handler for a big-game-hunting safari company, but when hunting was banned in Kenya in the late 1970’s he took to the bush and became a poacher. His adventures included coming so close to starvation that he had to tie tree bark around his waist in order to stand up, using magic to stay invisible from park rangers and a meal that turned him ‘crazy’ and landed him in jail for four years. For the full story, click here.
We then walked northwards through torrential daily rainstorms to the Olarro conservancy. Here we spent time with the conservancy managers learning how to run a conservancy, we met one of Kenya’s top female safari guides and we learnt how to farm worms – and why you might want to farm worms.
From Olarro we walked over the hills to the hot springs of Maji Moto, and then to the Lekanka hills where the few remaining Maasai moran (warriors) still come to hunt lions to prove their manhood. Here we met Sankale Ntutu who regaled us with stories from his days as a moran, and his excitement at killing his first lion. We also learnt that for the Maasai moran it’s not killing a lion that’s the biggest challenge, but killing an ostrich!
We’re now down in Sekenani, at the entrance to the Masai Mara National Reserve and where, over the next couple of days, we’ll be meeting people working hard to change the old Maasai ways. They are, as the elders I met have told me, the “digital Maasai.”
Click here to read about week 1 of Stuart’s journey.