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Newsletter Dated: 2/4/2004 1:58:09 PM
Subject: Newsletter: African Safari,
Happy Hello Dear Readers!!
In the last Newsletter I gave you an overview of the Kenya part of my recent safari (journey) to Africa. In this Newsletter and the next, I give you an overview of the Tanzanian part of my safari. Following the next Newsletter, I feature an African Safari Tidbit and expand on events.
Many thanks are given to H.B. Shakir of Adventure Tours and Safaris in Arusha, Tanzania for arranging and executing all aspects of the Kenya and Tanzania Safaris. His site is located at www.adventuresafaris24.com. I will be forever grateful for his attention to detail which generated much email before the trip and that attention did not lessen once we arrived in Africa. Most people would expect a safari agency to book and guide tours in the wild, but many of us would not expect it to arrange the appointments for research purposes. Shakir not only arranged appointments, he also scheduled the interpreter and guide. Many more thanks are given to Shakir for assigning James, as our driver, guide and interpreter. When I interviewed the Maasai, James had the role of interpreter.
The Tanzanian portion of our Safari began on 14th of January when we traveled from Nairobi to Arusha for two overnights at the Arusha Resort Centre. Their site is located at www.arusharesortcenter.com. What I remember about that first arrival day was Shakir helping us acclimate to Tanzania. One of the first things he said was, “We’ve got to get you speaking some Swahili.” Thus, everyday for the rest of the trip, James taught us Swahili.
In Arusha on the 15th of January, I interviewed two women with the Lutheran Diocese. One of these women, the head of the Women’s Department, has been working with the issue of FGM for 12 years. That evening I interviewed a gynecologist by the light of two flashlights, one each held by James, my husband and James, our guide. The physician was with Selian Lutheran Hospital.
The 16th-18th of January were spent doing research at the Maasai villages. We stayed overnight at Mto Wa Mbu – Manyara. The Maasai experience was indeed a highlight of the safari. The lodge in Mto Wa Mbu is owned by Shakir. I had never stayed in a private lodge (we were the only guests at that time), and found the cozy and intimate atmosphere much to my liking. The personal attention felt wonderful, too.
Shakir had arranged for a government official, a Uwane (a councilor), to go with us when visited the Maasai. The Maasai are an eastern African tribe that for several centuries dominated by force of arms. Some Maasai have attended schools and benefitted from hospitals in their land, but most have held to their traditions and customs. Cattle were and are their life which is basically nomadic in nature. In a later Newsletter in my African Safari Tidbit feature, I will share with you the government councilor’s program to educate the Maasai.
James told us that he (James) had lived among the Maasai for a while when he was young, thus his knowledge of them helped him to be a skillful interpreter. The combined abilities of the councilor and James made the visits to the Maasai very successful. We visited two bomas (villages). In both bomas, we communicated in three languages: Maasai, Swahili and English. In addition, in the first boma, once the message reached the elder in charge, Leigwana Landari, it was discussed with the other men present (who were sort of like a cabinet James said). So getting the answer to an interview question took some time. The elder and his cabinet invited us to sip hot milk in their hut, an offer they make to an honored guest. So it was, we sat inside their hut, sipping hot milk, and listened to accounts of male circumcision. We were invited to come back the next day if we wished to talk to a woman about female circumcision.
As it turned out, that afternoon presented the opportunity to visit a second Maasai village. The elder in charge, Laiboni, was not surrounded by just males as it was in the first leader’s boma in the morning, but by females. James, our guide, said that Laiboni was a witch doctor for the Maasai. After a discussion with the Laiboni, he consented to have James (the guide) and I interview the females. So we left with the women and sat beneath a tree. Children and baby goats gathered around with the women. So it was, in the two Maasai bomas – research material was successfully gotten.
On the last day of the Maasai project, James (our guide) took us to visit a part of Manyara where the very poor lived. He also took us to the home of a financially comfortable family. We visited with them in their sitting room. We also visited with a village leader. Then later, James (our guide) and the Councilor took us on a tour of a school for the Maasai. The Councilor shared with us his architectural plans for the expansion of the school. I will share much more of this tour with you in another Newsletter.
In the next Newsletter, I will share with you the day and night spent in the Ngorongoro Crater and the two days and nights in the Serengeti. And I’ll talk about my research project in Shirati, Tarime and Bunda, Tanzania and the last day research interview in Moshi, Tanzania.