Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna

Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna

by Joseph Lemasolai-Lekuton
     
 

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Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton gives American kids a firsthand look at growing up in Kenya as a member of a tribe of nomads whose livelihood centers around the raising of cattle. Here's a fascinating introduction to a vibrant culture few outsiders ever see!  See more details below

Overview

Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton gives American kids a firsthand look at growing up in Kenya as a member of a tribe of nomads whose livelihood centers around the raising of cattle. Here's a fascinating introduction to a vibrant culture few outsiders ever see!

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Once a warrior, always a warrior. Facing the Lion describes Lekuton's extraordinary passage between worlds and his continuing effort to hold the two in balance. — Elizabeth Ward
Publishers Weekly
This involving, anecdotal autobiography sketches the childhood of Lekuton, who grew up in northern Kenya, a member of a subgroup within the Maa culture known as the Ariaal. He explains that the beloved cows dictate where their nomadic "village" wanders: "If the grass runs out or the water dries up, we move. If there's better grazing land somewhere else, we move." Articulate and likable, the author easily ushers readers into his primitive yet colorful culture as he vividly describes aspects of his people's way of life. His topics range from the quotidian (the practice of drinking milk mixed with cow's blood; the youngsters' responsibility for the herd's calves; the role of the "pinching man," who metes out punishment to village children) to the momentous (the elaborate circumcision ritual that young men undergo on the path to becoming a "warrior"). Following the government's dictate that one boy in every nomadic family go to school, Lekuton attended a school run by American missionaries (and, depending on where his family was living at the time, walked up to 40 miles home at vacation time), went on to enroll in an elite boarding school in Nakuru, received a scholarship at St. Lawrence University in New York and currently teaches at a private school near Washington, D.C.-and, during school vacations, guides American visitors through his Maasai home. An intriguing portrait of a remarkable life and a culture little known to most American readers. Photos not seen by PW. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The author of this true story is a member of the Maasai tribe. The book follows his life as a member of this nomadic tribe. The descriptions of day-to-day life and cultural practices are quite vivid. It is a good introduction for those who know very little about the Maasai. Lekuton is sent to the missionary school because each family is required to send at least one of their children. He adapts to the education quite quickly and begins to learn Western ways, as well as gaining a new perspective on his own culture. It is interesting to read about his living style within two different cultural worlds. He describes how he acts and dresses in a certain way for his teachers, but returns to his traditional ways when he is at home. It is difficult to imagine how he handles such extreme transitions. The story follows Lekuton into adulthood and his journey to university in America. While Lekuton's story is original, the lessons and values he described are important to all children who are struggling to obtain their goals. An excellent read for those interested in different cultures. 2003, National Geographic Society,
— Caroline Haugen

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780792251255
Publisher:
National Geographic Society
Publication date:
08/05/2003
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
919,540
Product dimensions:
5.59(w) x 8.59(h) x 0.64(d)
Lexile:
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Joseph Lamsolai Lekuton grew up in a nomadic Maasai village in northern Kenya and came to the United States in his late teens to pursue his education. He taught at The Langley School in northern Virginia and is actively involved in community development projects in rural Kenya. Through his work with several nonprofit organizations, Lekuton has provided more than a hundred nomadic children with education scholarships, established the Karare Boarding School, and constructed a water system delivering clean water to a dozen villages in northern Kenya. He holds a B.A. and an M.A. from St. Lawrence University and a master’s in international education policy from Harvard. He is the youngest recipient of Kenya’s Order of the Grand warrior, a presidential award given for exemplary service to the country. Lekuton divides his time between Kenya and the Washington D.C. area.

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