Photographer's Note

I think the majority of westerners associate the Maasai, more than any other tribal group, with Africa and like Mount Kilimanjaro they are icons of Africa. Colourful red clothing, tall slim stature and exotic good looks draw one's eyes like moths to a flame.
This young man walked the beach each day eking out a living by selling bead-work. Each year during the peak tourist season he makes the journey to the coast, along with countless others, to supplement his income.

As we toured southern Kenya and saw the traditional lifestyle of these proud people struggling to survive in a changing world, I had to ask the question... 'what price progress?'

The Maasai have not fared well in modern Africa. Until the European settlers arrived, fierce Maasai tribes occupied the most fertile lands. The Maasai struggled to preserve their territory, but their spears were no match for armed British troops, and their lawyers never had a fair chance in British courtrooms. In 1904, the Maasai signed a first agreement, losing the best of their land to the European settlers. Seven years later, in 1911, a very controversial agreement was signed by a small group of Maasai, where their best Northern land (Laikipia) was given up to white settlers. Surely they did not fully understand what the consequences of such a treaty were, and anyway the signatories did not represent the entire tribe.
With these two treaties, the Maasai lost about two-thirds of their lands and were relocated to less fertile parts of Kenya and Tanzania.
Other tribes of Kenya have adapted more readily to the “progress” of modern times. In contrast, the Maasai have persisted in their traditional ways, so as Kenya takes more land for growing tribes and agriculture, they suffer.
One positive trend for the Maasai in recent years has been the development of a specific form of eco-tourism. Although other tribes in Kenya regard wildlife as food or a menace to their crops, the Maasai have proven to be able to co-exist with wildlife.

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Additional Photos by Rosemary Walden (SnapRJW) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2806 W: 84 N: 6959] (31631)
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