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WARRIOR PRINCESS by Mindy Budgor

WARRIOR PRINCESS

My Quest to Become the First Female Maasai Warrior

By Mindy Budgor

Pub Date: July 16th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7627-8603-9
Publisher: Skirt! Books/Globe Pequot

The spirited but problematic account of how a "plump, white, Gucci-wearing Jewish girl from California” traveled to Kenya to challenge the Maasai tradition of male-only warriors.

Budgor was a successful young entrepreneur living in Chicago, but after she sold her first business, she found herself “consistently questioning [her] purpose in life.” While waiting to hear back from MBA programs and on the advice of a college friend, the author decided to go to Maasai Mara in Kenya to help build a clinic. The simplicity of the Maasai lifestyle made her realize “how so many things in [her own] life were manufactured or determined by everyone else but [her].” She needed to learn how to empower herself. After a Maasai chief told her that women lacked the strength and bravery to become warriors, Budgor knew what her next mission would be. She would show everyone, especially Maasai females, that a woman could indeed become a moran. First, she told her parents that her efforts to become a warrior were part of a marketing plan for a sports clothing company (the CEO of which never returned her emails). The tradition-bound chief, however, refused to allow Budgor and a friend she brought back to Kenya to undergo warrior initiation. But another Maasai who had always wanted to give women “more respectable roles” took the pair into the forest. There, he and a group of fellow tribesmen taught the pair how to slaughter goats, drink blood, throw spears and survive hostile encounters with elephants, hippos, leopards and buffaloes. In this memoir with chutzpah to spare, Budgor chronicles how she and her friend ultimately did become morans.

However inspiring and well-intended their efforts, though, their actions still smack of cultural imperialism.