Sunday, April 17th:
When Lindsey asks if you want to attend a traditional Maasai cheifing ceremony for a friend, how can you resist?! Honestly, you can't...the amazing possibilities that the day will enfold is way too good to pass up!
Nickson and his family at the ceremony
Philip showing some of the kids the photos he's taken of them
So, when the situation arose last weekend, two cars full of muzungus, mainly women too, headed out of Nairobi and into the neighboring "town" of Kitengela to see what a chiefing ceremony is all about.
An hour into the drive, we begin to see Matutus, and lot of them, on the deserted strip that we call a road. Where were they heading? How many people would be attending this event? We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into!
We round a corner, and BAM! Out of nowhere we see hundreds of Kenyans, mainly men, with white tents, and LOTS of matatus. We've arrived!
The tents full of spectators!
We gingerly climb out of the cars, cameras ready for the big event. We make our way through the crowd of onlookers towards Nickson's home, the man of honor. I've visited his place a few times with Lindsey, but usually we're surrounded by empty hills. Not today.
It turns out that a "gang" in Kenya is gathering to discuss how they will respond to the Ocampo Six arriving back in Kenya. For those out of the loop, the ICC has pressed charges against 6 Kenyans they feel most responsible for the deaths of over 1,000 people in the post-election violence of 2007. The case is finally getting underway, and the 6 were returning the following day from the Hague. Would there be a rally of support at the airport? These folks were meeting to find out what to do with their matatus!
Anyways, back to the real ceremony! Eventually Nickson and the other chiefs were able to get the crowd to disperse and only about 200 remained to celebrate his cheifing. This meant long lines of mamas and babies for lunch, including a massive pot (or two) of rice and meat being hacked off directly from the bone. YUMMY! There is nothing quite like Kenyan nyoma choma, it takes hours just to break it down enough to swallow!
Food, food and more food for the crowd to enjoy!
After a delicious lunch, we proceeded over to the now empty tents for the ceremony to begin. We were taking secret photos of people (Maasai believe that a photo steals their soul, so we have to be sneaky sometimes). Meanwhile, we were having our pictures taken by the DJ, and at one point, he even came to sit on Lindsey and my lap for a snapshot!
The event started off with a group of local orphans singing and dancing to the music before the speeches began. A couple of hours later, we decided it was time to head back, and graciously made our exit, with most likely, another couple of hours of speeches to go.
Kids waving their "flags"
Lindsey introduces herself and congratulates her friend, Nickson
Speeches, speeches and more speeches!
Who knew an acacia tree branch could double as a tooth pick?!
Time to head home!
Overall, it was a fascinating afternoon and one that won't be forgotten!