How did the people live many many years ago? We believe that when you visit the Maasai or other tribes in Africa, you will still come close to experiencing this.
When we were in Mto wa Mbu, the town next to Lake Manyara we had the best coffee we drank in Tanzania at Cafe Kabisa. We started talking to one of the other customers, who turned out to be a local guide for cyling tours. We said that we had interest to cycle through the Maasai land and he mentioned that he could actually take us to one of the Maasai Boma a bit further from the main road. As these families are not often visited by tourists and you will get a more traditional experience.
A traditional boma consists of a variety of “houses” which are in essence small huts made of mud. The boma is surrounded by a circular “fence” of thick and thorny bushes to protect the tribe and their cattle from other tribes and predators, like the hyenas.
We left around four in the afternoon. The best time to visit the Boma is right before sunset. At this time the children will arrive with the cattle, and both the men and women will be home. When you visit during the day, there is a big chance that only some women will be there.
We cycled a couple of kilometers over gravel and sand and reached the first Boma. There were quite some kids and one man. The children had a lot of fun playing with the bikes and we asked if it was ok to take some pictures.
We experienced that the Maasai, like all people in Tanzania, are super friendly. However, they really do not like it if you take pictures without asking first.
We continued cycling to another part of the Maasai land. At some point we took a right turn and we saw a larger Boma in front of us. Our guide asked one of the women if the man leading this Boma was there. The Maasai man came out and greeted us. He was happy to welcome us.
More and more women and kids gathered around us. All very friendly and curious. We put our bikes against one of the houses and took a look around the Boma.
Surprisingly the Maasai men started to talk about football. He knew so many Ducth players, it was quite funny. Apparently the Maasai men often go to town to watch the football games. And the women and kids? They work.
We told our guide that we did not want to have the “tourist” experience and that the Maasai did not have to dance for us. But all the women gathered in the cirular areas where the cows sleep and started singing for us. I was pushed forward and joined the women for the dance. Also Franklin did not escape the tradition and had to show everyone how high he could jump.
When Maasai visit each other’s Bomas, they first wait from a distance to see if it is approved to come in. The receiving family will start the welcoming song and dance as a sign to come in. The visiting person or family will also sing and dance. Both families will closely move closer to eachother.
We danced (jumped) for about 10 minutes, which was honestly quite exhausting.
We did not expect that we could actually take a look inside one of the houses, but we were welcomed to take a look.
Our guide explained how the Maasai live, how the family arrangement works etc. It was surprising to see how much space you have inside the house. It does not consist of one room, but actually has a seperate space for the mother and for the children to sleep.
A Maasai man can have multiple women and all his wifes will have their own house. He will rotate beds so to say.
Our guide offered us to sleep one night in one of the houses and to experience how life is after sunset. There is no electricity, no toilet, no shower and the Maasai do not speak any English. They often do not even speak Swahili.
I was quite excited about the idea, but Franklin did not feel much for this.
And honestly, to stay there alone, in the pitch dark night… maybe next time!