GROWING UP MASAI by Tom Shachtman
Kirkus Star


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An amicable introduction to the Masai, in sharp, clear text and photos that take two preadolescent children, Lekorria and his sister Namaiyiai, through a typical day. In their traditional community, ""the elders know everything about the world,"" rhinoceros and elephants are seen ""every day,"" and everyone waits for the time of year ""when the whole countryside is as green and hairy as a caterpillar."" Lekorria goes out every day with his father's cattle, practices throwing his spear, and looks forward to the upcoming advancement ceremony when he will be one step closer to warrior status. Namaiyiai, at home, gathers firewood, helps the women repair the hut--a structure of twigs, grass, and cow dung--and looks forward to her marriage, though she has never seen the man to whom her father has promised her. The women and girls also milk the cattle: ""This is women's work. Men never milk the animals. This is just the way things are. As the elders say, 'A zebra takes its stripes wherever it goes.'"" This and other practices have their sanctioning proverbs, and Shachtman also summarizes folktales and riddles that reflect basic realities in Masai life. In Renn's black-and-white photos, the local animals show up splendidly, customs and culture come across, and individuals are revealed, arrestingly, as such.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1981
Publisher: Macmillan