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Six Maasai proverbs complement glimpses into the daily life of a Maasai community in a compact and fascinating portrait of this nomadic people and their changing world.
Reynolds describes in photographs and text how, in an area about the size of Oregon, the Maasai herd goats and cows as they have traditionally done and also increasingly adapt to changes in the environment and availability of grazing land and water. Farming and beekeeping are shown as examples of new Maasai ways of subsistence that may help restore health to the land that supports wild animals. The Maasai's respect and care for wild animals—they do not hunt them for food—and for the environment comes through clearly. The straightforward and economical text explains the construction of the huts, the use and importance of the livestock and the responsibilities, games and social traditions of girls and of boys within the group. The dozens of photographs inside and on the cover are excellent, with only two—peering inside anenjaki, or hut—a bit dim. An author's note discusses in a more personal voice the importance of Maasai storytelling and explains the effect that wildlife preserves—where not even leopards are truly wild—have on the natural order that the Maasai seek to restore.
A revealing look at a vibrant and distinct culture. (author's note, glossary, source notes)(Nonfiction. 7-11)
Posted August 3, 2012
Review title: Conservation & Care.
Readers will be treated to new vocabulary from the Maasai culture. For example, words like enkajis, enkang, moran, bao, and sansevieria. Also, learn about creating a balance between the land and the animals. *Informative. *Educational. *Great for cultural awareness. Enjoy the insightful way the people adopt to life in the modern world and find solutions to live more sustainably. A quote from the book: "A new idea follows an old one." - Maasai Proverb.
Posted January 24, 2012
I was surprised to see this book and I didn't hesitate to request it from NetGalley. The Maasai insist on continuing their culture despite everything and everyone and I love that about them.
When I studied Linguistics at the University of Oregon, SIL brought a Maasai over for us to learn aspects of their language. I focused on their numbering system, which is based on the livestock. I will never forget hearing the pounding in our ceiling and running up to the guy's hall to see what was going on and finding our Maasai friend showing his roomates how to do the Maasai leap.
I read this book with a specific picture of the their culture in my head from our friend's stories. Many of the things in the book resonated true with me. A family took the author in and showed her a lot of their life.
Some of the book is obviously "nice" keeping it kid-friendly. There is mention of cow dung used in the mud for the huts, but it is discreet compared to what I had heard, which is good. :-) She was similarly discreet regarding their food. She mentions drinking blood, but only in the Author's Note at the back. The danger of the wild African landscape is also downplayed. The women travel in groups and the men are skilled with their spears, but there are only hints at running into lions often. So, kids have a great introduction into this unique culture while adults are given more.
What I enjoyed the most is the details in the day to day life. The author captured things my friend didn't share, like how big their homes are, how big the community, just how free their livestock is to forage. The pictures show them creating bracelets and playing games and how the men stay together in a group. The author captured the every-day life.
She also highlighted how their environment has shrunk and their way of life is threatened and what they are doing to adapt. The stories that are their education have passed on a strong culture generation after generation. They continue to be fiercely their own.
I think there is a lot more that isn't shared, but this book is still a great peak into the Maasai way of life.
My Rating: 5 - Love it!