I recently entered this image in my first ever photographic competition (still awaiting the verdict). The theme of the competition was ‘The Essence of Travel’ and I thought this image of a Maasai Tribeswoman in Kenya depicts that perfectly.
I’ve spent so many days sitting here at my desk in my ‘marketing bubble’ stressing over a fast approaching deadline, something stupid my boss has said to me or how I’m going to satisfy another outrageous request from a high maintenance hairdresser.
Then one day I spent a few hours with some of these remarkable Maasai women and their warrior husbands and it really put my life in perspective and I soon realised just how ridiculous these stressers are.
The Maasai tribes of Kenya are one of few African tribes who still live a traditional lifestyle. Their semi-nomadic lifestyle sees them roam the Kenyan plains with their cattle herds upholding centuries old customs and cultures, despite their lands being taken away and pressure from the government to conform to the modern world.
Secluded from civilisation they live a simple existence focused around survival – roaming the plains in search of fresh water, grazing pastures for their cattle and living off the land, which is no easy task in a partly desert climate.
With no electricity, no running water and most of the daily responsibilities falling to the women it’s a hard life. The women build the homes (manyanas) out of mud, sticks and cow pats and they can spend several hours a day walking through the oppressive heat to bring fresh water back to the village. You can almost see the years of struggle etched into this womans face.
They still practice age old customs such as body modification, polyandry marriage and male circumcision in what seems like the most barbaric way. All the while I’m sitting here coming up with a new whizz bang promotion to get people to buy more shampoo.
I find it fascinating that in todays world there are people who still choose to live like this, yet just a few hours away you’ll find modern society, with bitumen roads, traffic, concrete buildings and the latest mobile gadgets. With no desire to be tempted into this lifestyle they appear blissfully happy. It’s a testament to their pride and heritage as Maasai people; to want to carry on these traditions for generations to come, whilst the rest of us are swept up in the latest technoloical phenomenon.
But this is why I travel, to experience and learn about different cultures and be thrown out of my comfort zone. To me this is what travel is all about – this is the essence of travel.