Picture of the Week: An Interesting Cultural Exchange with the Maasai

Posted on 22 June 2012 by Danica

maasai women colorful clothes

When you first meet the Maasai people, you can’t help but notice their distinctive clothing.  Men mostly wear red or blue textiles in plaid.  Women wrap themselves in clothes that come in a rainbow of different colors or African design, and are adnored with beautiful beaded homemade jewelry and headdress.

The Meeting

After meeting the Maasai women above, we sat down with a young Maasai man in his home (similar to the mud hut in the background.)  We politely asked about the living condition in his house, which is no larger than a 150 sq ft room that fits a kitchen, a bed for the entire family and a few basic supplies.

You Heard What About America?

We had expected to see this type of living arrangements before we went in, but what caught us by surprise was his curiosity for the American culture.  He has heard a lot of “strange” customs about Americans, he told us.  And he wanted to know whether the rumors were true or not.

  • Is it true that a woman can divorce a man in America?
  • What about the rumor I heard that American women raise children on their own without a husband?
  • Oh, and I heard that some women paid men to have babies by themselves?

It’s rare that we become the subject of interest and under the spotlight when we travel.  Usually, we ask all the questions!

Surely You Don’t Want to Know About That

And as we replied yes, yes, and yes to all his questions, you can see his eyes grew larger and wilder.  He simply could not understand why on earth would Americans do such a thing?  What could be the reasons behind these “crazy” ideas?

And in our heads, all we could think of was, “geez, better not tell him about all the other concepts such as it’s legal for same-sex couples to get married and raise children together in some parts of America, or what about test tube babies?”  The answers to those questions would surely blown his mind away!

The Unforgettable Exchange with the Maasai

It was an unforgettable cultural exchange with the Maasai.  At the end of that encounter, we learned a bit more about the Maasai, and they learned a bit more about us.  While we may not understand the motivations behind the other’s decisions, we tolerate and accept the others’ viewpoint.  And that’s the most satisfying part of traveling – being able to share our differences, and being accepted at the same time.

 

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