THE WORLDS OF A MAASAI WARRIOR: An Autiobiography by Tepelit Ole Saitoti


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An autobiography of a young man whose life to date has spanned the African veldt, the old world of Europe, and the hectic cities of America. We have already run across Saitoti, both in print (as author of Maasai) and on TV (as ""the man from Serengeti"" in the National Geographic documentary of the same name). In both efforts, the author documented the vanishing cultures of the people who inhabit the Great Rift Valley between Kenya and Tanzania. Now, Saitoti tells how he personally faced the challenges brought on by exposure to new ways and cultures. After a slow start, the author picks up the pace as he describes his feelings upon being sent away by his father to school--the only member of his family to be so chosen. Farther and farther he got from home in a succession of schools. Yet he managed always to return home to partake in the rites of manhood that made the Maasai such a proud people. The scenes in which he depicts his killing of a lion single-handedly and the rituals and pain surrounding his circumcision (both major factors in a Maasai's acceptance into manhood) seem almost otherworldly to jaded modern eyes. When Saitoti arrives in Munich, the fun begins. The Western world that we take for granted is seen by Saitoti as if he has just emerged from a Wellsian time machine into an incomprehensible future. At a concert, Saitoti ""watched a performer holding an instrument between his knees and shoulders and rubbing it with a stick."" His first snow was perceived as ""white ash dropping from heaven."" When it became too cold, he had to buy ""hand shoes"" to keep his hands warm. The burden of exposure was awesome. The more he saw, the more he realized that ""an unbridgeable gap had been introduced between my life's and my father's."" But Saitoti was still a Maasai, and after a Harvard education, he undertook his familial responsibilities upon his brother's death. All in all, Saitoti's book is as interesting for what it tells us about ourselves as about him. Saitoti is no great writer, but the rare glimpse into a fabled tribe and a collision of cultures is worth enduring craft deficiencies.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1985
Publisher: Random House