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Tanzania | Maasai Experience

March 29, 2016

March 10, 2016

After a three hour drive in the morning, we arrived at the Maasai campsite, and the view of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru was amazing! We had time to get situated in our tents and take pictures at the top of a simple tree house that gave us a grand, overlooking view of the Rift Valley. Shortly after, we were guided on a tour of the area by the warriors.

Walking into the Maasai Boma was like walking into the past; the relationship between these people and their animals is one that the US hasn’t seen for at least the last century. There was a herd of goats, of all sizes and ages, playing and living with the people. As we walked towards the back of the boma, we were met by our guide and a large group of Maasai men and young girls walked into view. As they approached, we could hear one of the men making deep guttural sound. They walked in, made their way around the circle and then formed their own half circle with the men on one side and the girls on the other. The dance that came next was like something you would see on the Discovery Channel. The men began jumping as high as they could into the air and making distinct singing sounds. They would do their dance, and the girls responded by shaking their shoulder and making their amazing jewelry rattle. It seemed as though it was some sort of mating dance, like something a beautiful exotic bird would do. The whole scene seemed very serious until young girls began to laugh and it became very obvious that they were slightly nervous to be doing their dance for us. The tension soon broke and everyone was quickly laughing as Mr. Benson joined the men and began jumping in the same manner! He was much clumsier than the Maasai men, and they thought he was hilarious. It was truly a privilege to witness this traditional dance.

After that, we stumbled upon the birth of a baby goat, which was perfect because it was time to kill the goat we were eating for dinner; the cycle of life had a beautiful way of presenting itself. The Maasai warriors only kill animals when absolutely necessary or in times of celebration, so we were rather privileged to experience this event. After the guides lead the goat to our campsite on a leash, they gracefully restrained it and slit its throat within a matter of seconds. Most of us have never watched the death of food that ends up on our plate, so this was an eye-opening experience for many. Our reactions varied- some of us cringed, some of us wanted to get involved, some of us cried. Once the goat was dead, there was lots of work to do to prepare it for feasting, and we got a first hand view of some Maasai traditions. The Warriors drain the blood from the throat and drink it to prevent waste and to take in the nutrients it offers. Later on, during the exploration of the stomach, our eyes grew as the Warriors casually popped the kidneys in their mouths. We were kindly offered some of both delicacies, but politely declined. However, some students did help skin the goat and hold the legs while the Warriors cut the abdomen. The goat was not quite ready for dinner, but we got to taste it during our chat with the Maasai. Once again, our reactions were diverse as some kids avoided the meat completely and others chewed very slowly while contemplating the evening. The process of seeing a living goat to a grilled goat within a matter of hours was one of the most powerful learning moments we’ve had so far. In America, livestock can be raised rather unsustainably, but the Maasai raise their animals in a more ethical and ecologically friendly manner; despite more fairness in the treatment of animals, many students had a broadened perspective of their food from America after witnessing the death of a goat who’d lived a decent life.