August 1, 2011
Kenya. The name itself conjures images of never-ending veldts and grasslands teeming with animals and of course the Masai Mara National Park, one of the largest and most bountiful wildlife reserves in the world.
While Masai Mara is known throughout the world, the inhabitants of the region, the Masai, are relatively lesser known.
Unlike other Africans, the Masais are instantly recognisable by their colourful clothes and beads and by their tall aristocratic statures and sharp profiles.
While coming from one of the poorer sections of Africa, the Masai, who are hereditary cattle herders, are known for their friendly and easy-going attitude.
Every ready with a salutation of “Jambo”, one hardly ever finds a Masai who is not smiling. They are also great sticklers for cleanliness, a far cry from many of us who wouldn’t think twice about spitting paan on staircases of houses where we do not live.
As an example of their unending patience and good manners, it is said that automobile manufacturers in this East African country need not fix horns in their vehicles.
Though considered under developed, their state of economy does not let these people forget the virtues of courtesy. Even little children never forget their “thank yous” when you share something with him.
Driving through the city or the countryside, you will be forced to keep a chocolate wrapper or empty biscuit packet in your pocket instead of throwing it out of the window, as everything is kept neat and clean.
The Masai may be among the poorest people in the world, but they make sure that their public spaces are extraordinarily clean unlike most city slickers in India.
“Our staple drink is milk mixed with cow’s blood. It gives us iron,” said a lean Masai, who effortlessly springs over 10 feet while keeping his legs together, much like a springbok. Since most Masais live inside the game park, they are not allowed to cultivate the land as it might lead to man-animal conflicts.
They, however, have very strong religious sentiments and visit churches regularly.
Indians are not strangers in Kenya as there is a rich history of Indian businessmen and workers living for generations here. At present too, the country offers many investment opportunities and South Indian professionals head various businesses here.
Companies like Airtel, Essar, Reliance, Tata, Ashok Leyland, Larsen and Toubro etc. all have bases in Kenya.