Student Accomplishments: Janice Meador’s visit with The Maasai

Photo courtesy: Janice Meador

Janice Meador, in her own words:
“Ram suggested in our Private that we visit the Maasai in East Africa. We might as well have gone to another planet! I always thought meeting aliens would come from the stars. We truly were aliens to each other. Most of the tribe had never seen outsiders, much less Wazungu (Swahili for white people). Some of the children were even frightened at the sight of us. They touched my face and hair, asking what kind of magic I put on it to make it so different from theirs. Living in saffron dust and extreme temperatures every day, we didn’t care how dirty our clothes were or how we looked. The dirtier our faces and clothes became, the more real and intrinsic our journey. At the end of the day we would look at each other laughing, comparing who was the dirtiest. Our skin turned deep reddish-brown, not from the sun but from the dust it had accumulated!

The Maasai morans (warriors) are the security force of the tribe. They keep watch around the manyatta to ensure the safety of the people and animals. I awoke one night and saw this silent, sentinel being standing next to my mat, watching over us like a guardian angel. The chief elder had assigned them to watch over and keep us safe at all times, even while we slept. I have never felt so safe or so honored as a guest anywhere. Integrity and respect are inherent virtues of the Maasai. Many times I found myself in awe of their sterling character.

I was enthralled at exploring the diversity of our cultures. I remember how rapt I was exploring something new, not once thinking about my life as I knew it but just being present in the moment. The Maasai live on a simple diet of meat, milk, and chai tea. On occasion we were offered pup (steamed corn flour) and yogurt, which was made by boiling milk and allowing it to ferment in a calabash (gourd). I also drank one of their favorite beverages called “soup,” a meat broth stewed with a tree bark that had healthful properties. When the day of celebration came to honor us, the Maasai butchered their best cow and goat in our honor. Seeing these truly magnificent animals giving their life for us was deeply moving. The cow gave no resistance, as if it knew it was waiting peacefully to give its life for us. I participated in the Maasai tradition of drinking the blood of the butchered cow. I was truly amazed at how warm and nurturing it was, like drinking the peace and the consciousness of the Maasai. The Maasai sing and tend to their animals with great love and attention — living with them, not separate from them. It really hit home how important it is to consciously grow, raise, and harvest our own food source and how disconnected we can become through our conveniences. The Maasai are simple, peaceful herders whose life revolves around community and living in harmony with nature. This experience offered such rich knowledge and wisdom and will continue to unfold for years to come. Some see these simple people as materially poor, yet I see them as being richer than most. My heartfelt thanks to my Teacher for suggesting this life-changing experience!”

Comments are closed.