Rutgers - Science Summer Abroad 2010
Nine Science Undergraduate Students Around the World

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Maasai Traditions: Post from Kai

Due to Kai's limited internet access, he has sent his post via Monica


This morning began with a 6am walk into the edge of the national park, and within about 10 minutes our group had seen 17 giraffe that were at times no more than 10 yards away from us. We began observing their herd behavior, which occurs loosely in giraffe, especially when they see a group of young students who to them could be predators. We also saw a few water bucks, a jackal, many zebra and impala, a few ostriches, and two eland, the largest antelope in Africa.

Days begin very early here, class has been for about six hours a day, and the rest is comprised of other cultural activities. Yesterday evening the Maasai Askari (guards) at the compound slaughtered a goat on the outskirts of the compound. I had the experience of taking part in the sharing of the meat, which is a Maasai tradition (if one does not share the meat of his goat, it is considered a very bad omen). The goat is slaughtered in a very careful way, beginning with the slitting of its throat and letting it bleed out slowly, so that the meat is not spoiled. The goat is then skinned and all of its parts are separated to be used for various purposes. The Maasai men start by eating the best of the meat by cooking it slowly over a fire. They make sure to remove the eyes from the goats head before eating it, because it is thought that the goat should not watch one eat it. Once they have eaten the best meat, they use the backbone meat for making stew for the women, because it has more bones. They then use essentially all of the rest of the goat, including the full head, and the boned cracked open to release the marrow, for a stew cooked for a number of hours over a fire. The goats skin/coat can be dried and sold in town for clothing or as a mat. The whole experience was slightly shocking at first, but absolutely incredible in whole, and the meat which couldn’t possibly have been fresher, was delicious. I was most shocked to learn that a goat can be purchased for about 5,000 shillings, which is US dollars comes to about $75.

The rest of this week will be comprised of more classes, primarily focused on learning large African mammal behaviors, preparing us for field observations taking place Friday and Saturday. Sunday will be our non-program day, and we will go to an elephant sanctuary, where young orphaned elephants are rehabilitated and released into the wild. I hope we will pass a town large enough to have an internet café so that I can post my blogs soon!

I am adding to this entry later in the night, after having come to the realization of what an incredible experience I’m having. A little earlier, after classes were finished, our group took a walk about a kilometer up the nearby mountain to a Maasai grazing field/soccer field. We played a game of soccer (football since the English they speak is British) with the local Maasai boys, and even though they were a few years younger than us, we were put to shame. The high altitude really made us feel pathetic as well, since breathing becomes twice as hard and one gets winded after one way up and down the field.

1 comment:

  1. Football in Africa! I am envious :-) Do girls play, too? CM