My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read Tepilit Ole Saitoti’s The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior because I was so impressed with several books I read on the life of pygmies. The Maasai is another proud race that is disappearing, trampled by the march of so-called civilization. How other people live in the arms of nature while I’m snug and hidden in my man-made home with my store-bought food amazes me.
Tepilit grew up on the African Serengeti, drinking milk for breakfast, herding cows all day, and feeling lucky to have food for dinner. He was happy–content. He didn’t feel put upon or less than the city folk in their cars and clothes. He led what we would call a simple life, one which he considered complete, filled with the natural wonder of
nature’s flora and fauna. Somehow, hard to say how it happened, but he grew to love learning. This passion for education led him to the western world and a Bachelors, then a Masters. I’m not sure if they made him happier–I think not–or if he just changed, became more civilized in a Western sense, with no negative connotations to that observation.
The books ends with his plea, “The only key that can now open locked doors is education. The Maasai once resisted education, afraid of losing their children. Now… the Maasai have come to accept it.”
I didn’t realize the Maasai had a reputation as warriors until I read Tepilit’s autobiography. When their youth grow to adulthood, they aspire to the warrior class. Not
because they fight the enemy anymore, or enter in battle with their foe, but for the same reasons many of our youth join the military. The uniform of a warrior marks the individual as strong and competent, which is a worthy designation for mature males.
Overall, I would recommend this to anyone wishing to understand how to be happy in life. Tepilit makes it clear that it’s not our western culture or anything that rhymes with ‘money’ that brings happiness. Rather, it’s an intrinsic quality within us, a pride in who we are and from where we came. I wonder how many of us are as lucky as Tepilit Ole Saitoti.
For more books on culture, read about pygmies.