My perspective on tribes changed several times during our trip. We saw a lot of Masai on the first part of our trip. Later on a friend who grew up in the Datoga tribe took us to meet his family. This experience changed my perspective again. I still find forcing education on tribes a difficult subject, but here’s my take on it.
Are there real Masai left?
The Masai we met didn’t look like the nomadic folk we’d heard about. It seemed like all the Masai wanted to do was make money of tourists, so we avoided the Masai Tours. We asked our guide Richard and he explained that they are real Masai. A lot of them are just no longer nomadic. The government requires the kids to go to school and the Masai have to settle somewhere. Our guide Richard thinks this is a good development, because no one should be left behind. I had a hard time deciding if it was a good thing or not.
The tribes are vanishing, because there is more and more contact with the ‘civilized’ world. Our society feels the need to convert the tribes to our ways. We see ourselves as civilized and them as primitive. But are we really better off? Our lives have become so much about work and doing as much as possible. If you’re not busy you’re doing something wrong. Even though the tribes don’t have it easy, they might be a lot happier. There is a lot we can learn from them. Living in the moment, connecting with each other and learning to slow down. It’s really all about perspective. They probably think we’re all crazy for putting so much pressure on ourselves. (and they would be right)
So should tribes be educated?
So there are a few reasons why ultimately I do think education for these tribes is a good thing. While visiting I discovered that in the Datoga tribe young girls still get circumcised. It is done to control the women’s sexuality. It is painful and can be really harmful and cause short and longterm problems. The only way to change deeply rooted traditions like this, is education. I sincerely hope for the sake of these girls that something changes. I do however also hope that some of their traditions survive and they don’t completely lose their lifestyle. There is a lot of beauty there too.
What is your take on this issue? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.