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Inside the magic box?

Updated: May 2, 2022

I have lived in Africa twice in my life and this is what I know about the Masai people; they are authentic and genuine, often shrewd negotiators, and they are survivors in the face of tough obstacles.

This day in 1989 I was with American friends in a Masai village taking pictures, as I usually did. Because I was there often with my camera, I was somewhat of a familiar fixture and drew little attention. But on this day, as we moved easily around the village, I noticed two Masai girls eyeing us closely and our cameras. I could tell we were the topic of conversation that day.

I spoke enough Swahili to get by and through a Masai interpreter I inquired if they wanted to ask us a question.

Yes, they had a question. “Wazungu tourists are always pointing those little black boxes at us,” said one of the girls in her native Masai language. “We have always wondered what you are seeing inside that box.” My friend handed over his camera and I started photographing their interaction with the camera. The resulting picture was their priceless reaction to finally seeing inside the black box.

I am including "extra" pics below from that same trip and other visits to Masai villages.

Below is a Masai pastor baptizing a new Christian believer in a cattle trough. I reproduced this image in black and white because I grew up with black and white photography and I am partial to its authentic look in some situations.

I found out later the young Masai girl eating candy (below), was her first taste of western type candy. She was loving it!

The old Masai Mama (with few teeth) was only moments away from being baptized as a new Christian believer when I snapped her photo. "What were you thinking," I asked her afterwards, half expecting a deep spiritual answer that would change my Christian perspective. "I was thinking, this is the first time in my life that my head would actually go completely under water; an experience I have never felt." I totally misjudged that one. This woman had grown up in a very arid area of Kenya and had never experienced water deep enough to go under. She was baptized that day in a cattle-watering-trough. What an amazing experience for both of us.

Like any culture, Masai children are the heartbeat of the community.

This Masai woman below was about to be baptized.

More baptisms.

This man is singing with a Masai Christian hymnal.

Warriors hold a special place in Masai society. I have a spear like this one.

I have no idea who this Masai woman is, I just liked the photo. Her beadwork and the assorted colors represent her status and whether she is single or married.

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