Shining A Light on the Dark Continent

Monthly Archives: November 2014

Lamu, Maasai and Hippopotami


The day after Christmas Dave toured the countryside of Kenya, starting with Lamu, an island resort near the Somali coastline. “It reminded me of the Caribbean of the Islands in atmosphere and the laid-back attitude,” Dave said.

Lamu is one of the oldest cities in Kenya and is the oldest port. Dave photographed a building formerly used in the slave trade.  The island allows only two vehicles – the ambassador’s and the governor’s. Everyone else walks or rides donkeys. To get to the city, Dave took a 15-minute boat ride.

Dave with some colorful Maasai Warriors.
Dave with some colorful Maasai Warriors.

Dave also met some Maasai warriors on Lamu and purchased some handmade crafts from them. “We made this stop after watching kids racing their donkeys. The Maasai I met are thin, graceful, quiet and proud. They carry themselves with great elegance,” he said.

The Maasai Tribe has a rich history of being nomads in Kenya and Tanzania. The warriors rebuffed repeated attempts by the governments for them to abandon their nomadic lifestyle.

Europeans own a number of shops and restaurants on Lamu lending to its resort atmosphere. Dave said the teenage boys seemed particularly interested in two black chief petty officers with whom he traveled.  “They tried to impress the two chiefs by acting like black people they see in movies and television programs from the United States,” he said. The chiefs quickly dispelled the notion that all black people in America speak ‘gangsta.’

On the way to Lamu on very bumpy, sandy roads, Dave saw the true agricultural nature of the area when the road was blocked once by a herd of cattle and then again by a herd of goats. On the way back to camp, they stopped at the hippopotamus pond where Dave saw a hippo out of water as well as several in the water. Thank goodness for the great zoom lens on his camera. Hippos can be very dangerous when threatened.

Hippo near Manda Bay, Kenya.
Hippo near Manda Bay, Kenya.

“The hippos were big, loud and gracefully lumbering giants. I understand that the way they impress the ‘ladies’ is by passing gas and flicking their excrement. Dainty, indeed,” he said.

Overall, it was a good day except Dave missed meeting the Kenyan priest. “I thought they said mass was at 5 p.m. and they actually said 1500 – which is 3 p.m., Dave said. “But I got to develop a friendship with Capt. Ochieng and Maj. MWangi of the Kenyan Air Force and we talked about Scripture, family and life.”

“It was a beautiful day and night and being able to see hippos in the wild was one of those rare experiences for which I am thankful,” Dave said.