Kelvin ole Rakua cleans the pool at the Mara Sopa Lodge. While such lodges bring a welcome income to local people, the increasing number of visitors is putting a strain on the environment, with off-road driving threatening delicate soils and water resources under increasing threat.
Kenya – Been There

Why can’t real men wear skirts?

Photo by Ton Koene

Kenya – Been There Why can’t real men wear skirts?

Joseph Sengeny is a Maasai who embraces modern life while proudly wearing his traditional clothing, a bright cotton kilt. “Just because we may wear clothes dating back centuries, does not mean we are barbarians,” he says.

Julio Etchart
Julio Etchart

Joseph works at Kicheche Mara Camp in Kenya as a tourist guide. “I became a guide because I love nature and being in the outdoors,” he says. “I grew up near here and went to sleep each night hearing hyenas, lions and jackals.

“Maasai tradition is fundamental to how I work. Some say that our cattle are in an uneasy truce with the wildlife, but both Maasai pastoralists and wildebeest herds go back thousands of years. I won't let anything get in the way of this. Every day I dress in traditional Maasai robes to go to work. I cannot imagine wearing anything else."

Joseph is optimistic about finding a way to balance the tensions between the old way of life and the new. “The Maasai are now understanding much more that wildlife are our meal ticket. Our land is important but without the wildlife we will just be farmers, and probably poor ones at that.

“If we look after the other animals apart from our cattle, everyone benefits – the tourists, the animals and ourselves.”

047-img-0891

Kelvin ole Rakua works as a pool cleaner, receptionist and barman in the luxurious Mara Sopa Lodge near Maasai Mara. Although the tourism industry has brought great wealth to Kenya, very little has found its way to the Maasai people until relatively recently. Photo by Ton Koene

Ton Koene

Ton Koene

Canon EOS 5D

Aperture
ƒ/2.8
Exposure
1/30
ISO
800
Focal
24 mm

Kelvin ole Rakua works as a pool cleaner, receptionist and barman in the luxurious Mara Sopa Lodge near Maasai Mara. Although the tourism industry has brought great wealth to Kenya, very little has found its way to the Maasai people until relatively recently.

Other stories about Kenya