Of course, one must join in the festivities when invited to a Maasai feast! Part of our time was spent in the northern reaches of Kenya, visiting some traditional Maasai communities. These few days were spent in the wilderness of the Melako region, camping under the stars and hoping no hungry carnivores were on the prowl!
Our hosts organised a game of soccer on the dry river-bed, followed by traditional Maasai dancing and a feast of roasted goat. Unfortunately, the poor goats arrived at the site walking alongside the Maasai. I didn't feel like goat that night!
The Maasai warriors and maidens arrived to dance for us, adorned with their beautiful beads and feathers. The least we could do was to dress for the occasion - luckily I had just purchased some beads from one of the women's collectives. My traditional 'shuka' (wrap) came in handy too.
Beads for Wildlife
In between safaris, there was also time to visit local Kenyan communities. The women were quite amazing, and stunning! They make all of the intricate beadwork you can see on display here. As you can see, the beads are very much a part of their daily culture, with every woman heavily adorned.
Buying the beads was such a pleasure, in part because they are so beautiful, but also because of the benefits for the communities and the wildlife. Buying beadwork from the women supplements their family income, helping to buy food, clothing and keep children in school.
At the same time, it is also an important part of Zoos Victoria Beads for Wildlife initiative, which aims to boost family/community income, thereby reducing the need for increasing livestock which would otherwise serve this purpose. Less livestock in these wilderness regions translates to less competition for precious resources, especially water, that native wildlife such as the endangered Grevy's zebra must endure.
Bringing the beads home meant that we could also spread the joy, and know that in some small way, we are helping.
Digital Drive @ MWF
Melbourne Writers Festival delivered again this year. Saturday's Digital Drive at the Wheeler Centre proved to be an engaging and informative set of conversational presentations from three different sets of speakers. The topics varied from profiles and publishing to some hairy journalistic exploits. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be in the audience before the various speakers. I was most impressed with Darrell Pitt of The Steampunk Detective fame. He spoke humbly and eloquently of his publishing journey, offering some valuable insights to the likes of the 'wannabee published authors' in the audience.
Of course, one day just isn't enough... I went back for more next day - this time to join the Bohemian Melbourne walking tour hosted by John Arnold and Tony Moore. This was an opportunity to imbibe some of city's historical bohemian culture, exploring haunts frequented by Melbourne's nineteenth century writers and artists. Finishing off with afternoon tea in Fed Square made it the perfect end to a wonderfully enjoyable weekend at MWF.