Being Maasai

17 Nov

This week, I went to my second homestay with a local family. but this time, I went to a Maasai Boma. There were definite differences between my experience with the Iraqw family in Tanzania and the Maasai at the Boma in Kenya. A boma is an enclosed area with multiple family and houses. Although these families aren’t related, they are bonded by one common factor, the husband. The boma that I visited had 2 mommas who shared the same man. When I was in Tanzania, we passed by a huge establishment-that boma had a man, his ten wives and all his children. Polygamy is a very hard concept for me to wrap by head around.

This homestay really gave me a new perspective on how hard women work in rural Africa. Each day, the women walk miles to fetch water and collect firewood. I was lucky enough to take part in these activities. We went to the river and filled 20 liter jerricans with water. To transport them back, we wrapped scarves around the handle and then put the loop onto our foreheads with the can resting on our backs. We carried the water jugs up and down the hilly landscape. The trip took us 20 minutes to get home.

Gathering firewood was another daunting task. Using machetes, we hacked at thorny yellow barked acacia branches. Some of the thorns were as long as my palm and man does it hurt when you get stuck with one! I wasn’t very good with the accuracy of my swings but my sister for the day chopped the branches like a champ. Once the wood was collected, we carried to back to the boma in the same manner.

I only spent 6 hours with my Maasai family and was so physically drained. These women raise children, build their homes, cook meals and walk miles to collect firewood and water every day. They don’t complain, they just do their job as a wife and a mother. Every day, we as Americans think that we have hardships. This experience has taught me to appreciate the luxuries I have. Also, it has shown me how strong a person can truly be.


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