Arusha Project

Kumo Maasai Center
July 1, 2007, 7:42 am
Filed under: Abroad Program, Uncategorized

Our first experience of true Maasai culture, although I doubt we could call our excursion completely authentic as we weren’t asked to drink the blood of a sacrificed goat. Kumo, a sister group to Letoa which is an Arusha Project parter organization, is based up in the hills just outside of town. (Side note: It’s amazing the increase in population of bugs as you go to higher elevations in the thick of the forest.) Two Maasai men met us at the entrance and brought us up a little walkway to their main back yard where a group of nearly 20 Maasai women and men fully clad in traditional Maasai blankets and ornate beaded jewelry greeted us with song and dance.

kumo dance

The people of Kumo, we were told, live a self-sustainable lifestyle on this farm and publicly sing about the issues and consequences of HIV/AIDS to promote education and testing of the disease. Locally, the Maasai members grow all of the food that they need to live as well as some coffee crops for resale and have mastered agricultural skills like grafting to produce marketable fruit trees. They capture biogas from the dung of their cows to fuel their stoves and electricity. After walking around their visitor grounds, we were presented with “supper” consisting of potatoes, lentils, eggs, etc. that was harvested on their land and another Maasai dance performance. This time, as Joachim (founder of Letoa, the head organization of Kumo) explained, they were performing a special dance in which a man seeks out a woman and eventually puts himself into a crazed trance-like state. As we watched, the dance master began to loose control, convulsing in the captive arms of the other male dancers who brought him over to the side and after 10 minutes of his constant screams, were able to fully calm him down and bring him back to a normal state.


By the end of our visit, not one of us escaped attempting Maasai dance, although Justin was by far the most enthusiastic, and quite a good jumper as it turns out.


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