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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Cross Maasai (knot)

Visitor: silkhobby
Location: Sydney, AUSTRALIA
WebSite: Animal Spirits
Date: Tuesday, Oct 23, 2001 at 20:00:31 (EDT)
Comments: I loved looking at all the animal photos. I became interested in the maasai when the (Australian) TV show '60 minutes' showed an Australian girl - Catherine Oddie, marry a maasai warrior named Robert, and she changed her name to Nasha Oloimooja. Catherine wrote a book about her life with the maasai called 'enkop ai' (my country). It was a fascinating book. Does anyone out there know whatever happened to her ??? I'd be interested to know if she is still married to Robert.

I know someone who knows someone who knows somebody who retired from a 30 year career with the World Bank and the IMF. She now lives in Nairobi....happily, it seems. She has a small enough fortune amassed to be able to NEVER HAVE TO WORK AGAIN!

Her name is Margaret (name changed to protect innocent people including Margaret whose real name I don't know).
Margaret says, with a whimsical half grin, 'International aid does not work.'

This is the second person of some influence and credibility that I have heard this from. the other is Paul Theroux, author of 'Dark Star Safari', a bum in the matatu travel book wherein, disguised as a auto-erotic novelist, he traverses Africa from top to tip and basically comes to the same conclusion (with a lot more hilarity) as Margaret.

Now, I don't necessarily agree with either of them, though Dark Star is on my top 10 list. In fact I can't even agree 100% that Barrack Obama is the best choice for November or whether South Africa will in fact be a better place if our president is an accused but proven innocent rapist and is wiggling his way through 782 charges of corruption. So, I buy both the adorned mugs and all the badges and hope that my investment will help Democracy grow in the third world and be rediscovered in the first.

Meantime, nailed down by the frequent politically correct company I keep I am obliged to come up with some kind of mission statement for Africa.
The only thing that comes to mind is an oft quoted quote from my late and lamented role model of how to live creatively on the edge, Kessie Govender (the spontaneous, real, earthy, naughty, chuckling, satirical playwrite and bricklayer who 'kept a tradition of humanism and discord alive' in a country where being politically correct is your boy scout badge to boredom.)

He put it all rather simply - 'There cannot be any real cultural cross-fertilization without genetic cross-fertilization'.

I suspect that these words were sprung from loins of opportunity, perhaps confirmed by his (in later years) throwing his tabla out of his '79 Volvo window when his beautiful and talented daughter announced her love for a black American violin player. All however was forgiven and the violin sang a mournful but uniting song at Kessie's funeral some years later.

Nevertheless, those words resonated as true in a sort of global way for me and so it was with great delight that I learnt that my recent visitor, Margaret (believe me, she isn't a Margaret), had a deep seated fantasy to run away with a Maasai warrior and spend the rest of her life flying Quantas between a Manyata and the Sydney Opera House.
She arrived in Kenya clutching her copy of Catherine Oddie and wiping away her tears of anger at the original lady (Corinne Hofmann - 'The White Masai'), who succumbed to this (totally understandable) dream. (see note 1)

For days it seemed that her love would have to be from afar, a desire fuelled by fiction and expressed through a small Olympus digital camera.

On the 8th of October we piled into Ravickles, (Ida's trusty RAV4) and headed off to Lake Magadi, mostly because we could see flamingos for free which was certainly not the case at Lake Nakuru. (50 dollars! incl. rainy day).

What a smashing adventure we found ourselves in....and here are just a few pix..take a tea break and check them out as the real adventure begins ....on our way home.

Having completed the Magadi 4x4 bushawallah experience and still not found the thermal mud baths, we made a last stop at the Lake Magadi Golf Course.

What appeared to be the 19th hole sprung out of the middle of the sand ruck which seemed to have gobbled up the fairways.

What a great place for my 60th birthday!

I'll give a set of co-ords and invite whoever I know is still alive and vaguely mobile and see who turns up.

While doing the promo pic for the invite, the world took an about turn.

(well, it was clearly now Margaret's turn!).

Feeling a touch out of the picture, Smith spots a 2-wheeled opportunity...

... and soon discovers the reason for endless Maasai migrations...
...their transport has no brakes!

Margaret in a bit of a daze, we headed outa town past the local bus shelter, a greyish structure filled with red and purple people. An irridescent piece of red waved me down and said what could only have been the name of a town....suspecting that a lift was required and realizing the opportunity therein, I stopped and before you can say Sam Buru's my uncle, Ravickles had one bag of cabbages, 2 Maasai children and Nashun Mle aboard.
Make no mistake, the cultural X has happened with or without the genetic stuff as Nashun gaily fielded multiple and loud cell phone calls on his Motorola mobile, tucked into a leather holder which seemed attached to a rather large weapon of sharp destruction that hung off his belt.

25 kms later we were motioned off the main road and headed into the bush for another 8.5 kilos. By this time Mags was in her stride, giving Nashun and family, in well honed Rhodesian English, a crash course in birding. Clearly she had a convert as confirmed by the conversation, "Well, Nashun, that bird over there is the yellow necked brilliant shrike and as it is endemic to these areas, is a lifer for us!" To which, Nashun replied, "Ah! Baad ...Aafrika!"

By this time my sister was glancing at her watch and every time we passed a cow would ask Nashun if it was his.

As Rift Valley Freeways go...this one was A-OK!

Eventually we were ceremoniously guided into his humble collection of 2 huts and introduced to Mrs Mle and child.

Despite all the legends about stolen souls and cross Maasai, it was clear to us all that...

One man's ethnographic photo opp is another man's lift home.


So, after a day of Ubuntu, Smiles and cycling adventures, I finally headed back to good ol' Naairobes, stopping only to do the African sunset pose and think of absent friends...(and wonder what more I have to do to convince you buggers to came and visit!)

Note 1: for a bit of fun & nonsense see


  1. Yo Budgie. Who needs North Beach Pier when you have what you have. Enjoy Clive

  2. I hope you don't mind me coming to your blog. I see you are interested in Quantum mechanics I am an artist also, but I have a theory on the two slit experiment. it would be nice to know what you think of it?
    I have linked Newtons laws of motion with graity annd time.

    All the best Nick

  3. Budgie. I'm pleased you are an easy person to find on the internet. I thought about you the other day and thought I'd look you up to say "Hi". I hope you are keeping well, it looks like you are still having the maximum amount of fun :) Take care - Gina Sas (from Victor Hugo's Africa Sun days)

  4. I am trying to reach the real Catherine Oddie, aka Nasha Oloimooja. Please reply if you can help me.