The Maasai people have the most recognizable cultural identity, both nationally and internationally, and serve as Kenya’s international cultural symbol. Angama Mara is located in the heart of Maasailand. Of our 127 lodge staff members, 78 of them are from the Rift Valley. The majority of these are, of course, Maasai but we also have Il-chamus, Kipsigis and Turkana; all of whom took part in our cultural evening earlier in the year.
The geography of East Africa is dominated by the Great Rift Valley, which extends through the middle of the region from north to south. Associated with the rift valleys are vast savannas such as the Mara plains, lakes, high mountains, as well as the highlands of Ethiopia. The main lakes in the Kenyan Rift Valley from north to south are Turkana, Logipi, Baringo, Nakuru, Elementeita, Naivasha and Magadi. Of these eight, only Lakes Baringo and Naivasha are fresh water.
The Rift Valley is home to various communities including the Maa (Maasai), Kalenjin and Turkana. The Rift Valley tribes make up about a sixth of Kenya’s total population. The Kalenjin and the Maasai are two of the best-known ethnic groups. Most of Kenya’s top runners come from the Kalenjin community.
Did you know, the Men’s world records for 800m, 1 000m, 3 000m, 5km, half-marathon, 25 000m, 30 000m and the Marathon and the Women’s 5km, 10km, half-marathon, 20 000m, 25 000m, 30 000m, marathon and 3 000m steeplechase records – are all held by Kenyans from the Rift Valley?
The day of our Maasai Night cultural evening started early for those who were in charge of the meals: procure the goats, order the milk (fresh and fermented), check if the traditional honey beer was ready, collect the herbs needed, collect firewood for roasting, all while lodge operations and our usual business of delighting our guests continued as usual. By 3pm, pots were bubbling with soup, the aroma of roast meat filled the air from somewhere in the bushes – and were those the guttural sounds of the Maasai morans we could hear in the distance?
At 7pm the unmistakable sound of morans reached us in the staff canteen and the excitement was building. Led by Nasiti, they took to the stage and the jumping contest was epic. The colours, the sounds and smells were wafting from the kitchen. Then it was time for a blessing from our very own elder, Leshuna followed by a very educative talk on Maasai history, culture and much more.
It was time to eat, drink and be merry – nyama choma (roast meat), mursik (fermented milk), enaiho (honey beer) kule (fresh milk) among many more delicacies – full bellies and back to the dance floor. Ashe (Maa), kongoi (Kalenjin), alakara (Turkana) and thank you to our brothers and sisters.