As we walked along this stretch of the road we were constantly seeing members of the Maasai tribe. With their distinct traditional clothing and an equally distinct style of walking, they are easily identifiable. They were in the fields and scrubland watching their herds of goats and cows, moving these herds along the road to and from water, and striding along the road with their long, lanky, bouncing strides.
They are, almost without exception, respectful, dignified, fairly formal and friendly. They are also feared. The lines I’ve used—“proud, short-termed and carry multiple weapons”–are terms that would not be disputed by most Maasai. This is a description given to me by Maasai.
During the political violence, the Maasai and Kikuyu were on different sides. I wanted this first meeting to be dramatic and frightening. Seeing a Maasai warrior, weapons at the ready, would have been terrifying for Muchoki.
I wanted this scene to be played through and defined by Jata’s act of kindness–offering a meal–and that kindness being returned. For them to be taken under the protection of the father and son was to guarantee their safety. I wanted this to be part of the emotional journey that Muchoki is living through.