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To Catch a Thief

October 2, 2011

Only July 15th 2011 La Chica attended a Masai ceremony that was to honour a Masai father that would allow his son to participate in a coming of age circumcision ceremony.  During the ceremony there are games for the Masai attendees (and for La Chica, a white Muzungu attendee). La Chica’s favourite game is where a skewer with chunks of raw meat is place in the centre of a field, with men and women facing each other holding branches of a tree which are used to whip the opposite sex and send them running away from the skewer.  The person that ends up grabbing the skewer is the winner. La Chica ran after a number of Masai men, hitting them with her branch, but she didn’t like the game anymore when they turned on her leaving angry red welts on the backs of her legs!  La Chica’s best friend Namnyak also participated, winning the game and the prized skewer, but losing her mobile phone in the screaming mayhem.


La Chica brought along her tech-savvy brother Peter and his friend Federico to witness the ceremony.  Freddy filmed the game, and Peter later sat in La Chica’s mud hut where he downloaded Freddy’s footage to his iPad 2.  Sokoine, a Masai friend of La Chica, was shown how to view films on the iPad 2, and he watched the footage of La Chica getting whacked and Namnyak winning the game.  Imagine his surprise when he spotted Namnyak’s mobile phone falling out of the folds of her Masai outfit onto the ground, and a non-participating Masai man running to pick up the phone and pocket it!  More astounding is that the thief was a Masai man known to Namnyak!  Knowing that her phone was stolen and not merely lost, Namnyak plucked up the courage to tell her husband Olengunin about the theft and who was responsible.  Many viewings later (thank goodness for decent battery life for the iPad 2 given that La Chica’s boma is without electricity) Olengunin was also convinced of the thief’s identity – but what to do next?  Olengunin rang a neighbour of the thief, and said to tell the thief that he had Namnyak’s phone and he needed to return it.  The thief’s initial response was ‘how on earth did you know it was me?’ (or something to the equivalent in Masai….).  He then demanded payment for the inconvenience of returning the phone. Days later the exchange took place – 10,000 Tanzanian shillings in exchange for Namnyak’s mobile phone – thanks to some fortuitous filming and the magic of Apple technology!

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