DIGNITY ON THE SERENGETI PLAINS

sudhir ramchandran street photographyI photographed this Masai as he sat with a quizzical dignified silence at his home in the Serengeti in Tanzania.
The homes called the Inkajijik are built by women from sticks, grass, cow’s urine and cow dung. Most of those that we have seen are oblong in shape, and curved at the corners. The ceiling height is low, forcing the unusually tall African tribe to bend down as he moves about in the house. There are no windows and homes are usually dark within.

The men average around 6’ 4” and the women about 6’. The men are warriors and protect the livestock from predators especially lions.

The Masai have slim but strong bodies, but some of us from Dar es Salaam know that if their usually elongated faces are slightly rounder and if they are shorter, then there is a mix with an African race, just as we can understand with Indians from different states.

Here the warrior is wearing a “shuka”, a fabric of cotton material, which is dyed, to look red. When we were very young we used to see some Masai’s walking around our markets wearing well-stitched animal skins.

Since the Masais are not hunters they are allowed to live in the Ngorongoro area with the wild animals. The Serengeti National Park constitutes with Ngorongoro Conservation Unit a single Biosphere Reserve and has been declared a World Heritage Site in 1979.

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