13th October 2019

Hampshire Federation of WI

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The Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania

Our talk this month was given by Mr Boniface Mpano a senior Elder of a Kenyan Maasai tribe. Mr Mpano arrived in full Maasai dress of bright red with beautiful hand made belt and jewellery, making quite an impact on the ladies of the W.I.

He explained that their are 14 different nomadic tribes of Maasai, 10 in Kenya and 4 in Tanzania, who move with their cattle, sheep and goats, following the grazing and water supply for the animals. They build temporary villages which consist of 5 family groups each and the animals are housed every night in the centre of the village to keep them safe from lions and other marauding predators. The tribes are totally dependant on their animals; their main diet is meat and milk. All other parts of the animals are used for clothing, jewellery, cooking etc. Boniface told us that the sandals are now made from recycled tyres which last longer than the animal hide ones they used to wear. They call them thousand mile shoes as they are so hard wearing. He has recently climbed Mount Snowden in his!

The Maasai do not celebrate birthdays instead they have celebrations for achieving status within the tribe. After learning to tend to the animals, they then train as warriors. The next promotion is to junior Elder and finally to senior Elder. Each level requires certain tasks to be completed before moving on to the next.

A fascinating talk covering lifestyle, culture, traditions, whilst also acknowledging the changes occurring due to tourism, especially the safaris. These provide employment which helps the tribes pay for their children to go to school.

Boniface also had the most beautiful and intricate jewellery, made from horn, beads, seed pods and shells, for sale. This was all hand made by the women of the tribe and the proceeds are to help fund wheelchairs for the disabled tribes people. If you would like to make a donation there is a crowdfunding page on Facebook.

We warmly thanked our speaker who joined us for coffee and cake before taking his leave.

Our next meeting will be Thursday 7th November at 2.30pm in the RBL hall Herriard. Our speaker is David Bryant who will be ‘Making people laugh and cry with verse’. Why not join us for a sociable afternoon?

Diane Knight

[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]

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