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Masai Games

December 21, 2009

La Chica had an absolute ball joining in the games the Masai play to entertain themselves in the absence of television, books, or anything else that La Chica had been used to using to while away the time.  A game La Chica enjoyed enormously involved two competing teams.  The first team started the game when one of their team members, with a small pebble in their hand, moved along their team looking as if they were placing the pebble in the right or left hand of each team member.  The opposing team had to guess who in actual fact now had the pebble.  Some of the Masai showed great aptitude at reading the hands or faces of the team they were facing and guessing accurately each time the new owner of the pebble.  If the opposing team guessed correctly, they took the pebble, and would continue to play until the other team eventually chose correctly, and again the pebble would pass to the opposing team.

A different game La Chica played involved passing a burning stick in a clockwise direction around everyone in the hut.  As long as the stick was still alight with a flame, the person holding it and passing it on was safe.  If the flame went out, the person left holding the stick would become pregnant!  Bahati, Namnyak’s son, went to great lengths to explain to a terrified La Chica that it wasn’t real and the fact that she’d been left holding the stick three times when the flame died didn’t really mean that she would get pregnant three times!

A game La Chica observed at the local village were the Masai morani (boys in their late teens / early twenties) taking it in turn to ride their pushbikes through a deliberately placed obstacle course of rocks, testing their fine turning skills and the durability of their bike tyres.

Introducing a new game, and deciding that she wanted to be ‘it’, La Chica grabbed one of the sticks the Masai boys always carry with them, and ran after the children in the boma.  She chased them, trying to tag them gently with the stick, sending them screaming and running away from her.  After half an hour of running around under the hot African sun La Chica looked worse for wear but she had proudly tagged all the children in the boma!

Old fashioned singing around the fires inside the Masai huts was another delight that La Chica enjoyed immensely.  She learnt some Masai words and was able to join in the chorus of many of the songs much to the delight of her Masai friends, who didn’t seem to mind or notice that La Chica’s pitch didn’t quite hit the right notes!

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