A friend was visiting from the US and so, I dedicated that obligatory day of playing tourist. The timing was good, with the kids out of school and needing to break up the monotonous flurry of cartoons and MineCraft gaming. So, we all piled in the car and headed to the Nairobi Safari Walk at the Nairobi National Park. I love the layout of the walk with the meandering trails and wild animals more humanely contained than at the ‘Orphanage’.
I do not like zoos and definitely not the ones in Africa, where some countries have a deplorable situation for their human populations, so you know the animal ones stand a slim chance. However, I recognise their value for those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to view nature’s majestic creatures.
As we enjoyed being in the forest with a hint of Lang’ata Road’s traffic at a distance, we were approached by an unexpected visitor. Literally from nowhere, a Maasai man runs down the path saying, “Photo opp! Photo opp! Who wants a photo?” His radar has zoned onto my son, knowing that his mom could not resist her baby dressed up like a “mini Maasai”.
He knew how to read the signs and started stripping his blanket and jewellery and adorning my son with a beaded headband, stick and a spear. Within two minutes, my son was rebaptised ‘Ole Dimama’. My son was told to stop laughing as ‘Maasai don’t smile.’ He quickly moved into warrior mode and posed with his stick behind his head as he was waiting for his cows to pasture. I was just as excited to take the photos to show off to my friends in America, my son’s immersion into African history.
I thought about this Maasai’s hustle. I am sure he does well ambushing tourist who can’t resist their immersion into the iconic culture. When it came time to make an offering, I knew a long conversation would prevail and I left the details to my driver. In the end, I asked how much he paid and my initial sum prevailed. Though the conversation was long, my driver told me that he knew the guy from Rongai. His name is Kamau. I looked at him and he confirmed that he was not even Maasai. I laughed my head off. As we say in NY, “I ain’t mad at ‘im”.