Visitors to Kenya often seek additional information about the country’s history and cultures but apart from the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi there seems little else available to answer questions and satisfy people’s curiosity about the country’s past.
It was with no little surprise therefore that during a visit to Naivasha, following the conclusion of the Magical Kenya Travel Expo last week, the ‘Maa Museum’ appeared on the search radar, which is always on full strength seeking novel ideas and developments to report about.
Established earlier this year, and presently the first and only privately registered and licensed museum in Kenya, was this little gem opened up within the grounds of the Enashipai Resort & Spa, dedicated to the Maasai people, their customs, traditions and history.
Located in an old settler’s cottage, which was kept intact for exactly this reason when the owners of the resort bought out the land and developed the resort, several rooms are filled with exhibits while outside a traditional ‘manyatta’ has been built, mud roof and all, to allow visitors the added insight into the Maasai’s lifestyle.
Well trained guides show visitors to the little museum around and add their expert explanations on how weapons, tools and domestic implements have in the old days been made by hand and then put to use for the owner, often lasting a lifetime and being passed on to the next generation. All the exhibits are authentic and were given to the museum by members of the Maasai people.
Visitors learn about the migration of the Maasai to Eastern Africa and their regional distribution across Kenya and Tanzania and how all their clans are thought to be traced back to but two individuals, their pastoralist lifestyle, their ceremonial dress and accessories’ worn by both men and women on special occasions and the guided tour is then crowned by watching a documentary of the initiation ceremonies young boys undergo before they can become an adult before showing the preparations for a Maasai wedding.
While on safari more can be learned about the Maasai, especially when staying on one of the conservancies which belong to the tribe under their group ranch system, and in particular those staying at one of the Porini Camps will be able to hear more about how land was used in the past and how a transformation has taken place to turn some into profitable wilderness areas, contributing with royalties and levies and ground rent to improve the life of those who still live by their old codes and traditions.