Olasiti Village

Linda Lou Burton posting from Olasiti Village, Amboseli National Park, Kenya– I met a Maasai chief today. His name is Benson Meoli. Our visit to his village was one of the perks, or experiences, offered through Serena Amboseli Lodge, for a fee; an opportunity to learn more about Maasai culture. The Village was barely a 15-minute drive across the dusty landscape (once we exited the swampy lushness of the Lodge); Abdi had directed, ahead of time, that a chair awaited me. It was hot, and dusty there, one lone tree offering a bit of shade; after introductions Benson quickly dispatched others to bring more chairs, till everyone was comfortably seated in the meager shade. “You can ask him anything,” Abdi said, as Benson stood, a splendid man, patient and composed, awaiting his turn to speak.

Before our visit ended, he had talked about the Maasai spirit; the belief in community. He gave examples of responsibility, bravery, health. There were demonstrations (how to build a fire, together, each person playing a significant part). There were others who spoke (the village doctor; the purity of their diet; no arthritis, lean physiques). We were shown how the round straw-roofed houses are built (sticks for the frame, plastered with cow dung, no windows); we were invited to go inside.

And we were invited to join the dance. Of course they danced for us; the men the famous Maasai jumping dance, as tourists expect; the women paraded in their colorful garb, singing strong. Lois joined them, I stepped forward too, with cane of course; someone quickly took my hand. Mike and Otis joined the jumping dance; Venita and Judy admired the baby, Benson’s son, we were told, a beautiful boy. Rick was given an honorary Maasai name; Ed and Maureen got photos, all around.


And then, the sell. The women spread their wares across the dust; blankets covered in beads, elaborate decorations for the neck, the arms; bookmarks designed as birds, giraffes; magnets for the fridge. A visit to the school; the children came today, a holiday, especially to sing for us. The pressure push was strong, but underneath, the message clear.

Olasiti Village is in trouble. Their cattle are dying, like the zebras we saw the day before. Their cattle, their livelihood, are dying of thirst. There is no life without water, and the water is disappearing, fast. For four years now, the rains have failed to come. The village well, their one and only water source, connects to the aquifer that connects to the mountain that looms above, and the glaciers on that mountain are disappearing, fast. Behind all the niceties, and smiles, and beaded charms, these people need help.

Benson Meoli, the Maasai chief I met today, asks that we do what we can.

Olasiti Village, Kenya https://www.olasitimaasai.com/