The radio silence from this end can be explained by my summer holidays. My family and I were lucky enough to go on a safari to Tanzania last month. It is a fascinating country with incredible wildlife, particularly to someone who rarely sees anything bigger than a rabbit.
We were lucky enough to be shown around a Masai village and whilst the main purpose of the trip was to get us to exchange our dollars for some of their handmade jewellery or household objects fashioned from acacia or ebony, we saw enough of these villages on our route to understand that this was a genuine way of life and not just recreated for the tourists.
There were various things that struck me. Firstly, the women do everything ( no surprise there) but there was a huge respect for them and their work which came from the men which was less familiar. When we came to negotiate a price for our purchases, the man did the talking as he had the best English ( having spent longer at school) but it was the woman who decided the price.
The Masai have next to nothing and live a very simple life tending their livestock and moving on whenever the grazing runs bare. They drink the blood of their cattle ( but not the goats or sheep who could not survive losing such quantities of blood), they have little by way of their ‘five a day’ and their water isn’t ‘clean’ but their bodies are strong and lithe and they looked very healthy – a far cry from many of the western tourists that visit them. I felt a little ashamed because of all the things that I consider to be daily necessities and seeing how they lived made me reassess how much I actually ‘need’. Not as much as I have as it turns out.
We were invited into their school – a mud hut slightly bigger than the ones that they sleep and cook in but still smaller than my sitting room. The class we saw was made up of five and six years old. They were learning their English alphabet which they could recite just as clearly as any child I’ve heard but they also spoke the national language of Swahili and their tribal language Maa – not bad from a mud hut!
We learned of the systems to ensure the gene pool is kept wide, how they initiate their boys as warriors and their ideas around wealth. We didn’t learn anything about their sanitary systems which disappointed my children!
And now I’m back with plenty of things to think about and ideas to fill my creative well. The nights are drawing in, there’s a nip in the air and I am back at my desk. I’ll be starting on the edits for the new book just as soon as I type THE END on the third one which won’t be long. Watch this space for news.
If you have been reading the Summer book group read then I’ve posted my thoughts and you can read them HERE. Book reviews will start again next week.